I had the pleasure of attending last week’s Times Talks: A Conversation With Pedro Almodóvar. These are always great events. I recently caught up with bits and pieces of the Leading Women of Broadway panel they hosted a couple of weeks back which you can check in full at their YouTube channel and they have a couple lined up that look quite promising. Almodóvar was a pleasure throughout. I could have listened to him speak about any and all his films (well, maybe not Kika) for ages. Despite bringing three stars from his new film I’m So Excited! — Carlos Areces (who got big laughs every time he spoke), Blanca Suárez (from The Skin I Live In) and Miguel Ángel Silvestre (who is as distractingly attractive as his pictures suggest) — he rarely let them speak, though they did offer a nice rapport with Pedro throughout the evening, especially when asked whether they were allowed to improvise (hint: not really). The translator also did a wonderful job, nailing Pedro’s witty tone and garnering the same laughs he did when responding in Spanish.
The entire talk is worth watching. You’ll hear Almodóvar talk about the reason for including the eponymous title track in the film, the amount of information he gives his actors (sometimes even directing them to what kinds of dreams they’re having while sleeping) and extended explanations of Matador and Bad Education, not to mention revealing that there are talks to retool and remount Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: The Musical at the West End. Let’s hope they know what really worked on the Broadway stage and ask Laura Benanti to reprise her hilarious (and Tony nominated role) as Candela.
My favorite exchange of the evening centered on Almodóvar’s process: from writing over 18 drafts of I’m So Excited to demanding over a month’s worth of rehearsal for the “I’m So Excited” number (which he then had to request be worse because, well, they’re flight attendants not Broadway dancers). What really came through was the exacting nature of his direction, though it seems that never came at the expense of creating a nurturing space for his cast and crew, who clearly have a soft spot for him (even Carlos who was the butt of plenty of “he was so fat!” jibes from Pedro throughout!)
You can catch the recorded LiveStream over here (no embed available, sadly) or by clicking the picture below.
Ed. Note: I also have to point this out because it drove me insane throughout the talk. Whoever composed the bio that came with our programs clearly struggled with decoding how IMDB works and, after giving a solid account of Almodóvar’s career, ended the bio with the following:
This looked odd to me as these are definitely not Almodóvar’s own films but rather (as a simple google search revealed) films produced through El Deseo, his production company. It seems like such a petty thing to bring up, but it seemed like either sloppy copy (the syntax is confusing in that it could be read to say he produced them, but it implies they are “his films”) or inattentive research that denies Isabel Coixet & Lucrecia Martel their own film credits.