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Today’s Must Read: Pedro Almodovar Talks Madonna & Oscars

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Pedro Almodovar Talks Madonna & Oscars

Today's Must Read: Pedro Almodóvar talks Madonna and Oscars

Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 12:00PM

by Nathaniel R

Pedro quarantined and tripping through memory lane.

You can keep all those celebrity sing-alongs or other social media attempts to cheer us up collectively. Instead give us gossip to chew on. More juicy shared "diaries" of stir-crazy stars, please! 

The occassion for this request is that we've just finished reading a new article by Spanish genius Pedro Almodóvar. He wrote a piece for the Spanish website el diario about... well, a lot of things. It begins with memories of getting dressed up to go on an errand during quarantine and segueways into other memories of getting dressed up for movie events. Lots of fun anecdotes follow including a night with Jane Fonda (!). But the bulk of the piece centers on 1990-1991 when Madonna entered his life via Dick Tracy through the essential documentary Truth or Dare (1991). You must read the whole thing -- Spanish readers will probably enjoy it most but the rest of us will have to suffer through a google translation.

I've excerpted the Dick Tracy story after the jump...

The day after the [Oscar] ceremony, in the morning, a female voice calls me to the hotel. She says to me, as if she was not aware of its impact, but sure that her voice was going to impact me, "Hello, I'm Madonna, I'm shooting Dick Tracy and I'd love to show you the set. Today I 'm not shooting and I can dedicate the day to you."

It could be a false Madonna, or a psychopath who thought to cut me up in one of those fields that James Ellroy describes so well in his novels (if you read The Black Dahlia you will know what I mean. You can also see the movie that my beloved Brian de Palma shot about the book with Scarlett Johanson and Hilary Swank, but the truth is that it did not go very well. For the quarantine it is not bad, but before I would recommend many others, from De Palma himself: Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise, Carlito's Way, Body Double with Melanie Griffith at the peak of her career and thin as a reed, and above all Scarface with Pacino. Go from The Black Dahlia and make a cycle with all these films, you will thank me. All jewels, super accessible and super fun, in the end I will make you a list of recommendations. 

Going back to the Madonna call. It could be someone who was playing a joke on me, but my self-esteem, despite not winning the Oscar, was high enough not to doubt the authenticity. Madonna's voice gave me the address of the studio where they filmed, and I introduced myself there, happy as castanets.

The truth is that the entire team, from Warren Beatty himself to [cinematographer Vittoria] Storaro, couldn't have been more kind to me. They treated me like I was George Cukor. Beatty forced me to sit in the chair that put his name, in the director's place, to watch the filming of the sequence they were shooting. I was about to confess to him that when I was a child I discovered my sexuality when I saw him in Splendor in the grass (there was no mason of Pain and Glory), but I kept it to myself, of course. They were filming a sequence in which unrecognizable Al Pacino chattered non-stop. For that performance, he earned an Oscar nomination the following year, and the film earned three statuettes.

With Madonna I toured all the sets and met someone I greatly admired, Milena Canonero, the costume designer who had already won three Oscars (for Dick Tracy she would be nominated the following year) for Chariots of Fire, Barry Lyndon and Cotton Club [sic*] -- the three films are recommended for coping with quarantine. My favorite is Barry Lyndon from Kubrick. Milena Canonero would still win a fourth Oscar, I don't remember now which movie. Visiting the workshop where Canonero worked was probably what most impressed me about the visit, it would have been the only reason I would have liked to work in Hollywood: the obsession with details.

One of the characteristics of Dick Tracy , the comic book character, is his yellow hat. Milena was obsessed with getting that yellow that one saw in the drawing of the comic. She showed me over two hundred hats in which the only difference was a subtle change in color. I totally identified with that detail obsession. As far as I am concerned I do the same thing when I roll, I don't know how to work any other way (but I do know how to work with much less money).

If Madonna calls you and goes out of her way the day after you didn't win an Oscar, that means that the material girl has a huge interest in you. It was not long before we met again the following year on the occasion of her Blonde Ambition Tour...

Pedro & Madonna at the party documented in "Truth or Dare"

The following story gives you more Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas anecdotes. A great read.

Thank you to Iggy for sending us this photo of Pedro being interviewed on Spanish TV (where he mentions this article). Look you can see his BAFTA, Golden Lion and both his Oscars on the top shelf behind him!

* Almodóvar had his Oscar trivia wrong there. Canonero had actually only won two Oscars at that point and had not even been nominated for The Cotton Club (though she won the BAFTA for that). After Barry Lyndon and Chariots of Fire there was a long drought before she won twice more for Marie Antoinette and The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

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Thank you for posting.  You're right.  The article is not so  much about Madonna, but his experience in getting a call from her and going on the set of DT.  Still, it's fascinating to read.

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I remember Victoria Abril (one of the chicas Almodovar) saying in an interview on french tv that she hated Hollywood, everything was fake but one evening she found herself at a party with Madonna, bored as well and M went to her and talked lenghtly about spanish movies and abril said she was the only real person she met during her stay. Not only was she aware of spanish movies but she was very interested in it and in Victoria's career besides Almodovar.

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