Set in 1966 Spain at the height of the Franco regime, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed follows a Beatles-loving teacher, Antonio (Javier Cámara) who embarks on a road trip in an attempt to meet John Lennon while he is filming How I Won The War. We caught up with Cámara.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but Spain was under Fascist rule up until the middle of the ‘70s. While the rest of the Western world had the Summer Of Love, Spain had Franco and all that he entails. Thus, director David Trueba’s film is, to our eyes, an odd beast, combining the realities of life under Franco with one of the most powerful symbols of the ‘60s, John Lennon.
“The most interesting thing was because the director was the same age as me,” Cámara explains in charmingly broken English. “We have the same age. We have the same experience in our childhood – I’m talking about the end of the dictatorship, the same fathers that were trying to make the best for their children and were concerned about education and freedom. And, above all this, the central character was a teacher. I love that, because for my father and my father, the teachers were the example of freedom because they know the knowledges, you know?”
For his efforts, Cámara was rewarded the Goya (the Spanish Oscar) for Best Actor – in fact, the film picked up a total of six Goyas, including Best Picture and Best Director. His effort is even more impressive when he reveals that he had to bring much of the character to the screen himself, with very little being revealed in the script.
“I think it’s a very simple character,” he says. “A very idealistic character, but at the same time it’s quite mysterious, because we don’t know a lot of this character – why he is single, why he is living alone. I love when a character is not all written; part of the character is made by you, and I love that. I love that sensation. David, the director, left a lot of information to the actors. We didn’t talk too much about the characters. He knew that I was going to put a lot of energy into him. But I love this kind of mystery – a lot of little details are open to build during to process, and I love that.”
Ironically, Cámara was not much of a Beatles fan as a youth, thanks to the off-key renditions of their songs that his sister subjected him to. “My sister was a fan, and she passed her adolescence playing the guitar really, really bad, and so I hated The Beatles and the Rolling Stones for years. Now I love the Beatles, but my sister played guitar as a devil, as a bad devil. She plays awfully! My father was a musician and he played, all his life, the saxophone, and my mother sings, but my sister, she didn’t have a very good hand with the guitar. It was the time of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and she destroyed my childhood with this guitar!”