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Pedro Almodovar Talks about his new film The Skin I Live In, Working with Antonio Banderas again and more

One of the greatest directors of this generation, Pedro Almodovar’s films are melodramatic stories with complex characters that tell challenging stories. His last several films, Bad Education, Volver, and Broken Embraces have seen his story telling become more refined and the director become more mainstream and respected. His new film, The Skin I Live In is a dark story starring Antonio Banderas as a surgeon holding a woman captive. We had the chance to talk with  Pedro Almodovar about his film, his growth as a director, working with Antonia Banderas again, and much more.

How is this movie different from your other films?

It’s a different tone. I did not want to repeat what I did before. I needed something much more austere with this film, more severe. I was thinking a lot about this subject. This film is of a reflective nature. The world has changed for the worst. My films have become darker. As time has gone on I have become more mature. This does not mean I will reach absolute darkness. I would like to return to making comedies. I think I have discovered that I still have a sense a humor. It’s still there. It was more interesting and more difficult and appealing making this film.

What is the recurring theme of this film?

We are really standing at the edge of the threshold with science. It has come to a point where anything is possible. But for ethical reasons we cannot step over that boundary, but we are really one step away from these things becoming a reality. I talk about the abuse of power there is in reaching the next step in our humanity. Our grandsons and granddaughters will be witness to this change. We will seize the moment when human beings will have the capacity to determine the qualities of a new person being born, changing our entire perception and conception of what humanity is. Man as creator will compete with God as creator and it does not matter what god and what religion you are talking about. This is like a stage curtain for the film. This film is about a mad doctor mixed with melodrama. I do miss comedy. I want my next film to be a contemporary comedy and I will try and recover the more humoristic part of my personality.

How was it that you decided on Antonio Banderas for this role after not working with him for more than 20 years?

I had wonderful memories of working with him in the 80’s. He was the best one to act the passion and desire out of this character. He has been part of my family professionally. I always thought of the idea of working with him again and this was the right moment for him to do it. We needed someone 50 and he is just 51. I wanted someone that was old enough but still attractive and does not look like the psycho that his character in the movie is… Someone who can survive in society without calling attention to themselves. Someone that you would never know was a psychopath unless you were his victim of course. He has somewhat of an air of a ladies’ man. I did not want an actor who you looked at and immediately thought, that is the villain. His character through the film becomes more vulnerable. We should feel sorry for him at some level by the end of the film.

How do you get your idea for this movie?

I rewrote this script 10 times, maybe even more. I got an idea for one of the characters and what that character does in the movie from an exhibit I saw at the Tate Modern in London. It was a Louise Bourgeois exhibit. It was a retrospective that was very moving. As you see, I display some of her images on the TV screen within the movie. To quote her. “Art is a guarantee of sanity.” My life is represented in my movies. I invented all the characters in this movie around the doctor.

What things inspire you and spark ideas for all your movies?

The origin of my ideas come from everywhere. Conversations I have, sometimes things I am frightened of. Things that I hear in a cab during a conversation with the driver. Something that I read, I find inspiration from the page in the newspaper. Local newspapers, the terrible things that happen in any different city that don’t necessarily make the headlines. Also extraordinary things. It’s a mixture of everything like reality that gives me the first line, but the second and the rest of it I must invent to know what it is about.

Would you ever do a film in English ?

Actually I have the subject but I need to co-write it with someone. But I do have the subject.

Would you ever shoot a film anywhere else but Spain?

I keep thinking I will but then I keep shooting in Spain.

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