Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a romantic comedy however Bardem believes Allen wanted the cast to play it as a drama. "Because at the end it's a drama, no? That's my opinion," offered Bardem. "I don't know if that's what he wanted to do, but I think what he does is to present these stereotypes and clichés - the American tourist, the romantic place, the Latin lover - to put it there and then make fun of it, destroy them, and see what's behind those clichés and stereotypes, and realize that behind those labels that we all want to put on people and places and all that, there's reality. And reality comes to terms that are always shared by the same people, but by everybody, which is people in the same needs, dependence, fears, goals, and in this case, quest of trying to find out what love is."
"I think it's a brilliant thing and I think that's why Woody Allen is a genius. Because in some other hands, it could have been wrong. But in his hands, it comes to a moment where it's sad. Because the whole thing that we project on some other people and places...We're all the same. So yeah, this funny line here, this funny moment there, but in the arc of the story, you see there is kind of insanity here. There's a lot of insanity here in every character."
Writer/director Woody Allen said that both Bardem and Cruz were extremely diligent about developing their characters, even though their extra efforts weren't necessary. "Javier and Penelope were constantly talking about the plots, but not with me. They talked about it with each other. They were rehearsing all the time, their lines, they rehearsed themselves. I found that amusing. They think that’s what is making them great. What is making them great is that they just are great. Javier could walk into this room, never having seen anything before, and act the part out. He would be charismatic and mesmerizing. It’s just built into him," said Allen.
"First of all, I think Woody Allen likes to take the credit out of himself," said Bardem in response to Allen's compliments. "He doesn't like to take the credit, I think. I heard he's also saying that everything that was said in Spanish was improvised, and that's not true. Most of it was translated literally from the English that he wrote, and then of course, when you are working in your mother tongue, you put that word, and you take that other word, because you know it's going to help the line to be more understood. But you don't dare to change a Woody Allen dialogue. And in this case, the characters of Maria Elena and Juan Antonio are kind of extreme at the very end. It comes from a moment where it's kind of insane, what is going on there. But he helped us a lot. He knew what he wanted to do. And actually, in those fights, he asked those two people to go farther and farther, because he knew that he needed that in order to see the insanity from the eyes of Scarlett or Rebecca. To realize that her whole journey about the truth of it is totally wrong."
Although Bardem wasn't comfortable with changing Allen's words, he is feeling more comfortable speaking English in films. "Little by little I'm getting more confident," said Bardem. "Here, it's an extraordinary event because here it's a Woody Allen movie where you have one take, two takes, no more than that. Long scenes, huge dialogues, and he is asking you to improvise so you better be ready for that. And when you are working with a foreign language, even if it's allowed to have an accent, it's kind of difficult because you know that you have to hit the note right away because there are no more chances. And that was a problem, or that was a fear, in the very beginning. But then I realized at the very end that that was a great way of shooting, because the actor doesn't have time to wander around or waste or think too much, and construct. He has time to be. You have to be. Because you have great, brilliant dialogues, you don't need to add anything. So if you are in the right spot, you just have to relax and go with the flow."
As for filming Vicky Cristina Barcelona on location, Bardem believes Allen did justice to the romantic side of the city. "I think, as any other big town in the world, Barcelona has many Barcelonas in it, and I guess he chose the romantic one to tell the story. And I think that Barcelona is also real and exists. And if you go there and you look for it, you will freak out about the beauty of it. But I think it's another cliché. He wants to use that Barcelona to tell the story of two American women coming to Spain and finding Juan. The thing's perfectly done in the way that everything works in one direction, and then turns to the other one very easily without dramatic changes."
"The shooting was crazy," added Bardem. "It was summertime. He shot in the most [touristy] places of Barcelona. And when I hear people say this movie is going to be good for Barcelona because it's going to bring more people...Where do you want to put the people, man? It was packed. I mean, Barcelona is packed. It's very well known. And some people were saying, 'This is going to bring Barcelona to the world.' The world knows about Barcelona already. So I think people were having fun. And I didn't have fun, in the sense that I know Barcelona so it's not something new for me. And second, I have to study a lot. When you are working in that rhythm, you have to go back to the hotel and work on the dialogue, work on the dialogue, because you know the day after, you're going to have five minutes, and you have to hit the note."