Pedro Almodóvar Reveals Why He Turned Down ‘Brokeback Mountain’

Pedro Almodóvar Reveals Why He Turned Down 'Brokeback Mountain'
Pedro Almodóvar Reveals Why He Turned Down 'Brokeback Mountain'

In a recent Financial Times Q & A, the colorful Spanish auteur opened up about his upcoming woman-led drama, “Silencio,” which until now has mostly been shrouded in mystery.

But Almodóvar, in talking about the shifting paradigms of the business of filmmaking, also revealed that he was offered the chance to direct 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” the gay-cowboy romance that eventually went to director Ang Lee:

“They offered me Brokeback Mountain but I had many doubts. Thinking about it, I don’t know if I made a mistake or not [in turning it down]. They promised me total artistic freedom and final cut but it was a story that was so physical — it’s not just that the characters sleep together once — and that has to be there. I think Ang Lee went as far as he could and I like his version very much. But I always imagined it differently and I don’t think I would have been able to make it the way I wanted. They wouldn’t have let me.”

Obviously Almodóvar had a much different screen vision of the Annie Proulx adaptation, which fellow queer filmmaker Gus Van Sant had also been circling at one point. And given Almodóvar’s steamy, NC-17 level oeuvre—from 1987’s RW Fassbinder-inspired “Law of Desire” to 2004’s wildly graphic and sexy “Bad Education”—his “Brokeback” would’ve been way more explicit than Lee’s version, which isn’t especially coy about sex either.

Perhaps Almodóvar feared he’d have to make Hollywood-friendly alterations. He’s the kind of subversive international filmmaker who’s used to only answering to himself—and to his brother and coproducer Agustín Almodóvar, with whom he founded El Deseo. Along with most of Almodóvar’s films dating back to 1987, the production company recently helmed Argentine Oscar submission “Wild Tales” from director Damián Szifrón. Almodóvar’s last directorial feature was 2013’s ribald, airborne sex comedy “I’m So Excited!”

Agustín Almodóvar will also be producing “Silencio” when it starts shooting this April in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. Pedro Almodóvar says the script is finished, it’s about women and that he hasn’t yet cast a female lead. According to the FT interview, casting will be “complicated because what I’ve written doesn’t quite work with my actores amigos.”

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