Spanish director Almodovar withdraws from English film project with Cate Blanchett

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Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has withdrawn from directing his first English-language feature “A Manual for Cleaning Women” starring Cate Blanchett with production to continue without him, his brother confirmed Wednesday.

“Pedro Almodovar is pulling out of the ‘Manual for Cleaning Women’ project which will continue with Cate Blanchett,” tweeted Agustin Almodovar who jointly runs the brothers’ film production company, El Deseo.

The news was first broken by entertainment website Deadline Hollywood, which said Almodovar had everything in place but “he came to the decision that he’s not ready to tackle such a monumental project in English.”

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It gave no further details but said the search for another director was “under way.”

“It has been a very painful decision for me,” Almodovar told Deadline.

“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 realise this film.”

The project is an adaptation of a book of 43 short stories by American author Lucia Berlin in which the 53-year-old Australian actress – a double Oscar winner who also holds three Golden Globes – also has a producer role through her “Dirty Films” production company.

Almodovar’s withdrawal from the project, which was to have been his first full-length venture in English, will not affect Blanchett’s role in the production.

The 72-year-old director, who won Oscars for “All About My Mother” (1999) and “Talk To Her” (2002), made his first English language film in 2020, a 30-minute piece called “The Human Voice” starring British actress Tilda Swinton.

Earlier this month, Almodovar wrapped up filming of “Strange Way of Life,” his first Western and second English-language short starring Hollywood’s Ethan Hawke and Chilean actor Pedro Pascal.

Filmed in Spain’s southern Tabernas desert on the set built for Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) which is currently up for sale, the 30-minute film focuses on the reunion of a rancher and a sheriff who had worked together 25 years earlier.

At the weekend, Blanchett, who is considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation, won best actress at Venice Film Festival for a second time for her role in “Tar,” the story of a renowned orchestral conductor accused of inappropriate liaisons with female colleagues.

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