Out Director Pedro Almodóvar Details New Western, Explains Why he Turned Down 'Brokeback Mountain'

Sunday July 10, 2022
Originally published on June 28, 2022

Director Pedro Almodóvar poses for photographers at the photo call for the film "Pain and Glory" at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes.
Director Pedro Almodóvar poses for photographers at the photo call for the film "Pain and Glory" at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes.  (Source:Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

In a new interview with IndieWire, Oscar-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar revealed that he has a new Western project in the works starring Hollywood hunks Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal — and also revealed why he turned down directing "Brokeback Mountain."

Before director Ang Lee was set to direct the iconic gay drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, Almodóvar, now 72, had the opportunity to take on the project. But the "All About My Mother" director passed.

"I think Ang Lee made a wonderful movie, but I never believed that they would give me complete freedom and independence to make what I wanted," Almodóvar explained to IndieWire. "Nobody told me that — they said, 'You can do whatever you want,' but I knew that there was a limitation."

He went on to say that the script — adapted from Annie Proulx's short story by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, did not have the amount of lust that Almodóvar pictured for two closeted and rugged cowboys.

"The relation between these two guys is animalistic," he said. "It was a physical relationship. The punch of the movie comes when they have to separate, and Heath Ledger discovers that he can't think about leaving. That's a strong discovery. But until that moment, it is animalistic, and for me it was impossible to have that in the movie because it was a Hollywood movie. You could not have these two guys fucking all the time."

But Almodóvar says his upcoming short "Strange Way of Life" "could be like my answer to 'Brokeback Mountain.'" Though he did not give too many details about the project (featuring outfits from Saint Laurent — head designer Anthony Vaccarello is an associate producer and costume designer), he did reveal Hawke is playing a sheriff and Pascal is an opposing gunslinger.

"So one of them travels through the desert to find the other," he said. "There will be a showdown between them, but really the story is very intimate."

When asked if the 30-minute short will be romantic, Almodóvar responded: "You can guess. I mean, masculinity is one of the subjects of the movie."

"Strange Way of Life," which begins production in August, marks the Spanish director's second English-language project in his 40-year career, following the 2020 short "The Human Voice," starring Tilda Swinton. Almodóvar is also planning another English-language project called "A Manual for Cleaning Women," based on Lucía Berlin's short stories and starring Cate Blanchett. Production on that is expected sometime next year.