No, there’s no movie. Not yet. But with the Cuban strongman faltering and his brother “temporarily” at the helm, the time has come for Hollywood to put Fidel Castro’s affairs in order – and on film. I’m sure it’s the way he’d want to be embalmed: in shiny, capitalist celluloid. And it’s probably being discussed right now, in certain smoke-filled rooms (the smoke no doubt being of Cuban origin).
A Castro biopic is a no-brainer, an inside-out tale of the 20th-century’s latter half built around a massive, meaty Oscar-bait role. Will people cry foul at the very idea? Probably. Thus, Oliver Stone will most likely direct – though who wouldn’t enjoy watching another talented megalomaniac, Julian Schnabel, take a swing at it? He knows the territory. Wim Wenders might have an interesting slant on it, too. A project like this might even reawaken the long-dormant mojo of Francis Ford Coppola. But, art aside, it’s the tie-ins that really entice.
But directors, schmirectors. (“Schmirectors”? I think I’ve officially stretched that gag too far.) What we really want to know is, who’s got the cojones (or, for that matter, the tostones – what you wanna bet Castro can cook, dawg?) to play El Comandante? Not that others haven’t trod that bearded ground: Jack Palance assayed Fidel in the 1969 stinker Che!. Anthony LaPaglia whiskered up for Castro duty in 2000’s Company Man. But who should be the definitive Castro in the definitive Castro biopic?
The answer, to my way of thinking, is Javier Bardem (at right). The man’s got a thickness to him, a tough carapace nicely belied by those big, limpid eyes. (Even a dictator has to have a window onto his soul – especially in a movie.) In everything from Before Night Falls to The Dancer Upstairs to The Sea Inside, Bardem has been a vessel for something at once volatile and hypnotic. Thus, with the power vested in me by no one in particular (i.e. “the people”), I declare him your Movie Castro. Oppose me below, and I shall crush you with an iron fist.