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Pedro lesson for Hollywood
Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar

Los Angeles, Nov. 5 (AFP): Penelope Cruz has called on US filmmakers to follow Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s lead by creating more varied roles for women on the silver screen.

The Madrid-born actress has won glowing reviews in the US for her performance in Volver, her latest collaboration with Almodovar which is being tipped as an early contender for next year’s best foreign film Oscar.

The movie is a tragi-comedy that tells the story of four women and part of the action takes place in Almodovar’s native region of La Mancha in central Spain.

Aside from the Cannes screenplay prize, Volver also won the famous French festival’s top accolade for best actress, an honour that was shared by its four female leads, which included Cruz.

Cruz, speaking at a screening of Volver at the American Film Institute Film Festival in Hollywood, said she wished more directors would create roles for women.

“It would be great if there were more directors like Pedro in America, ones that write mainly for women and can write characters for women that are 60 and 80, like there are in this movie,” she said.

“Every generation is there. I wish there would be more opportunities like that for women in general.”

The 32-year-old said she had dreamed of working with Almodovar since the early days of her film career, which took off in 1992 with her breakthrough performance in Jamon, Jamon opposite Javier Bardem. That role led to her being cast in Almodovar’s Carne Tremula (Live Flesh) in 1997.

“Working for Pedro was my dream, I was obsessed with him,” Cruz said. “My biggest dream ever was receiving his telephone call.”

“I felt an immediate connection with the filmmaker but I was too nervous and shy to approach him.”

Cruz’s second film with Almodovar, 1999’s magical Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother), helped earn the Spanish director the Academy Award for the best foreign film. Almodovar’s screenplay for the 2004 movie Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her) also won Oscar honours.

“He is just genius, he is a very complex person; he can intimidate you but his heart is huge,” Cruz said. “Even now I am scared of him a little bit on the set, and that is good.”

Almodovar’s strength is his willingness to cast against type, Cruz said.

“Pedro can give you a character that you haven’t done before — and he’s done it for me in the few movies I’ve done with him,” Cruz said.

“Three characters that I have never done before in my career, very different from what I am in my life. I love that he takes risks like that.

“He has given me the most complex and difficult character that anyone has ever put in my hands in Volver.

“As actors we depend on that trust, he knows what you can do before you do it, we depend on that.”

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