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Pedro Almodóvar Will No Longer Direct ‘A Manual for Cleaning Women’

With Cate Blanchett to star and produce, Almodovar spent years developing the adaptation expected to be his long-awaited English-language debut.

Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar

Getty Images

Fans of Pedro Almodóvar will have to keep waiting for his first English-language feature. The Oscar winner was set to switch languages when he directed “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” an adaptation of Lucia Berlin’s short-story collection starring Cate Blanchett. But Almodóvar, who is currently finishing a new Western short starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke, has exited the project.

Deadline broke the news. Blanchett’s Dirty Films is still attached to produce the independent project with New Republic Pictures. IndieWire placed a call to Almodóvar’s representative, which was not returned at press time.

Almodovar has been talking about this project for years, first discussing it with IndieWire in 2019 as “five short tales by one American writer” that take place in Texas, Oakland, and Mexico, with a mixture of English and Spanish. (In his 2019  semi-autobiographical drama “Pain and Glory,” the film’s main character is seen reading the book.)

“It’s a wonderful book,” Almodóvar said to IndieWire in 2020. “[Berlin is] not that different from Alice Munro. She was an alcoholic and married to a junkie. A very complicated woman. Of course I feel less confident with this story, but I don’t feel very scared. This is a real whim for me.”

Earlier this year, he told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn: “We’re going to make this movie. The way the main character behaves is very close to my heroines. So that’s why I decided to do it. I don’t know about American society, the small details of everyday life. That’s why I said no to the rest.”

Now, Almodóvar told Deadline: “It has been a very painful decision for me. 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 realize this film.”

Blanchett was announced as the project’s star and producer early this year, but it appears that she remains committed to the film. “We have the utmost respect for Pedro and his extraordinary body of work, and while the stars may not have aligned this time, we hope to collaborate with Pedro and El Deseo on another project in the future,” Blanchett and her producing partners Andrew Upton and Coco Francini said in a statement. “Dirty Films’ passion for ‘A Manual for Cleaning Women’ and Lucia Berlin’s unique and searing voice – full of danger, joyousness and loss – has not dimmed, and we are excited to continue this project with our partners at New Republic.”

This is not the first time that Almodóvar has backed away from an English-language film. At various times, he was attached to direct “Sister Act” and “Brokeback Mountain.” The filmmaker is now in production on “Strange Way of Life” starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as a pair of middle-aged gunslingers at the center of a 30-minute Western.

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