Spanish director Pedro Almodovar withdraws from English film project with Cate Blanchett

Pedro Almodovar was to have directed his first full-length English film with Australian actress Cate Blanchett, seen here at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on Sept 10, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID – Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has withdrawn from directing his first English-language feature, A Manual For Cleaning Women, starring Australian actress Cate Blanchett, with production to continue without him, his brother confirmed on Wednesday.

“Pedro Almodovar is pulling out of the Manual For Cleaning Women project which will continue with Cate Blanchett,” tweeted Agustin Almodovar, who jointly runs the brothers’ film production company, El Deseo.

The news was first broken by entertainment website Deadline Hollywood, which said Pedro Almodovar had everything in place but “came to the decision that he’s not ready to tackle such a monumental project in English”.

It gave no further details but said the search for another director was under way.

“It has been a very painful decision for me,” director Almodovar told Deadline.

“I have dreamt of working with Cate for such a long time. Dirty Films has been so generous with me this whole time and I was blinded by excitement, but unfortunately, I no longer feel able to fully realise this film.”

The project is an adaptation of a book of 43 short stories by American author Lucia Berlin, in which Blanchett, 53 – a double Oscar winner who also holds three Golden Globes – also has a producer role through her Dirty Films production company.

Almodovar’s withdrawal from the project, which was to have been his first full-length venture in English, will not affect Blanchett’s role in the production.

The 72-year-old director, who won Oscars for All About My Mother (1999) and Talk To Her (2002), made his first English-language film in 2020, a 30-minute piece called The Human Voice starring British actress Tilda Swinton.

Earlier this month, Almodovar wrapped up the filming of Strange Way Of Life, his first Western and second English-language short starring Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke and Chilean actor Pedro Pascal.

Filmed in Spain’s southern Tabernas desert on the set built for late director Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), which is currently up for sale, the 30-minute film focuses on the reunion of a rancher and a sheriff who had worked together 25 years earlier.

Over the weekend, Blanchett, who is considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation, won best actress at Venice Film Festival for a second time for her role in Tar, the story of a renowned orchestral conductor accused of inappropriate liaisons with female colleagues. AFP

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