Spain's Almodovar eyes English-language project

May 21, 2011 - 12:00 PM
France Cannes Pedro Almodovar

In this photo taken Friday, May 20, 2011, actor Antonio Banderas poses for photos to promote the film The Skin I Live In at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

CANNES, France (AP) — Pedro Almodovar helped launch the international careers of several Spanish actors who are now Hollywood legends, including Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Now the celebrated filmmaker says he's toying with the idea of making his first movie in English.

The Academy Award-winning Spaniard has always remained deeply attached to his homeland, and none of his 18 films has been set beyond its borders.

That could change if one of three projects currently in development comes to fruition.

"There's a script that ... could perhaps become my first project in English," Almodovar said in an interview at the Cannes Film Festival, where he was promoting his latest movie, horror thriller "The Skin I Live In."

"I'm writing it in Spanish but I've spoken to an American writer about doing the English version."

Almodovar declined to provide any details about the project, which he said is in the early stages of development.

"The Skin I Live In" — one of 20 movies competing for the top Palme d'Or prize at Cannes — marks the return of a Hollywood heartthrob who was a regular feature of Almodovar's movies from the 1980s, Antonio Banderas. The two haven't worked together since 1990's "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!"

In "The Skin," Banderas actor breaks out the Latin Lover mold of his Hollywood work, playing an icy and calculating plastic surgeon bent on avenging the rape of his daughter. Banderas' pared-down performance is among his strongest in recent memory.

Almodovar "wanted this character to always be under control, to never reveal the monster he has inside," Banderas said. "This character with Pedro actually opened the door with me to a different turf.

"I'm going to be 51 this year and now I'm getting the possibility of doing characters I've never done before," Banderas said.

Almodovar said he thought Banderas' co-star, Elena Anaya, could follow in the footsteps of Almodovar muse, Penelope Cruz. In "The Skin," Anaya delivers a zinger of a performance as a victim of the Banderas character's Machiavellian plot.

"In addition to her youth and the fact she's a beautiful girl, Elena isn't afraid of any kind of scene," said Almodovar.

"I think she's the most open actress in this way that I've ever met. She can be in physical situations that are really atrocious," like the movie's brutal rape scene, and not blink, he said.

"She has the hardness necessary to handle really difficult scenes and the sensitivity to be able to transmit emotion in a really direct and immediate way," said the filmmaker. "I don't like to make comparisons, but I predict for Elena a future like that of Penelope in the U.S."

Anaya has already had a taste of the experience of working in Hollywood, with her role as a vampire in the 2004 action flick "Van Helsing." Though she said she had "lots of fun" on the project, Anaya said she's not angling for roles in big-budget blockbusters.

Still, the doe-eyed 35-year-old said she's not ruling anything out.

"You never know what kind of opportunities life holds in store," she said. "It goes without saying that I'm super content and incredibly happy with the opportunity Pedro has given me here."

(This version correct spelling of 'Amaya' to 'Anaya.')