Spanish filmmaking legend Pedro Almodóvar has long trafficked in making funny, feeling and unique films about women, from “All About My Mother” to “Volver” and “Talk to Her,” but despite his solemn vow to never leave “the universe of women” he loves so much, he rarely sees that same affection reflected in the industry at large.
At Cannes to show off his “Julieta” (another film about women, of course), the director sat down with Variety to discuss some of the challenges he sees in Hollywood, and how they directly impact the talents of female stars he so admires.
“Hollywood is losing an enormous opportunity when it doesn’t actually create these good roles for women of all ages,” Almodóvar told the outlet. “When it doesn’t actually create good roles to talk about mothers, about girlfriends, about daughters, about sister-in-laws.”
He continued, “We’ve got all of these movies that are about heroes and about arch-enemies, and there’s the sequels and there’s the prequels. With those movies, in general, and I’m only generalizing, if a woman appears, their function is to prove that the hero is not a homosexual.”
For Almodóvar, whose films have long reflected his love and affection for deeply drawn and uniquely crafted roles for women, the divide between his aims and those he sees around him are vast.
Variety also reports that “the director bemoaned the fact that actresses such as Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon have had to turn to television and theater as they age to find compelling projects.” Yet, “the situation is better in Europe, Almodovar believes, noting that middle aged actresses such as Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche continue to get starring roles. Were they to work in Hollywood, those opportunities might not exist exist.”
The result? “There’s a kind of diabolical sexism, and I say that it’s diabolical because there’s no one that we can actually accuse of being responsible for this sexism. The roles are out there for someone like Meryl Streep, but they’re not out there for the others,” the director said.
Funnily enough, Streep was attached to play the mother role in “Julieta” when Almodóvar was styling it as his English-language film debut. “At the last minute I felt insecure,” the director told Variety about his decision to take the film back to his native Spain, where the part was eventually taken by Emma Suárez (with her younger self being played by Adriana Ugarte).
Turns out, even Streep doesn’t always get the role either.
Watch the trailer for “Julieta” below: