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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Banderas Says He Had to Check His Ego for Almodovar’s ‘Pain and Glory’

TORONTO – Spanish actor Antonio Banderas told EFE on Friday that he had to resort to privacy and humility in order to play the role of the protagonist in “Pain and Glory” (Dolor y gloria), the latest film by director Pedro Almodovar.

Banderas and Almodovar attended the film’s Friday premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), considered one of the most prestigious in the world and a venue where films aspiring to the Oscars are presented.

On Thursday, “Pain and Glory” was chosen by the Spanish film academy as its selection for the next Academy Awards.

Almodovar told EFE at TIFF red carpet he was “very happy because I never get the feeling that I’m going to be nominated. I always think there are a lot more movies, because that’s the reality. And that they all have a chance. In Spain that’s even more difficult.”

“With the Spanish academy I have sometimes had problems and it is absolutely unpredictable, which means that yesterday we were given great news (of the nomination) because we really wanted to compete with this film in its natural category, which is that of an international film,” Almodovar added.

In addition, another of Banderas’ films, “The Laundromat” by Steven Soderbergh and starring Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman, was also showing this year at TIFF and seen as a strong contender for an Oscar nomination.

On the red carpet, Banderas explained to EFE how his involvement in Almodovar’s film “The Skin I Live In” (La piel que habito, 2011) changed the way he acted after living in the United States and his work in American cinema.

“When I arrived from America after 22 years where we had not worked together (“Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” or “¡Atame!” in 1989 was their last film together until “The Skin I Live In”), I arrived with a suitcase full of new things I had learned with the Americans, of acting, of feeling more secure in front of the camera,” he said.

“And after a few days of rehearsal he says to me, ‘This is no use to me. It probably works for you with your American directors, but it’s no use to me. Where are you?’” he said.

“And at the time it wasn’t that I locked horns with him, but there was a slightly more tense shoot than usual, without ever losing the paradigm of friendship that has always united us and which has been a creative friendship,” Banderas added.

The Malaga actor recalled how after watching “The Skin I Live In” at the 2011 TIFF, “for the first time with an audience, I suddenly realized that Almodovar had been able to get a character out of me that I didn’t even know I had. And that made me think a lot. And (it was) a reflection that has to do with humility.”

“I promised myself that if we went back to working together again, I would have to descend to a territory where we could work in a different way,” he added.

So when Almodovar called Banderas for “Pain and Glory,” the actor said he decided to put all his ego and accomplishments aside and ask just two questions: “Why do you want to make this movie? And why do you want me to do it, why do you want me represent you?”

“I think we understood each other very soon. I think from that point of view it wasn’t painful at all, the shooting was rather glorious and we moved on very well,” he said.

Almodovar said of Banderas that, “when I spoke to him before filming, he realized right away that we weren’t going to use the tones we had used in my other films, because the movie was talking about a character of another age and that he’s in another situation. Antonio’s award (Best Actor at Cannes in May for “Pain and Glory”) is not just fair, for me he is a kind of reborn actor.”

“He will continue to make films and will still be Antonio Banderas, but here, what he has done is radically the opposite. And that certainly has to be applauded. And people are applauding him,” Almodovar added.


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