Guess who's in the new Almodovar film?

Yes, it's Penelope again. And yesterday the director explained why he always chooses Cruz

Pedro Almodovar has had her play a prostitute who gives birth on a bus, a nun who contracts Aids from a transsexual prostitute, and a Madrid mother who hides a murdered's man body in a restaurant freezer.

Clearly a glutton for punishment, Penelope Cruz was back on the red carpet with the Spanish director yesterday, at the Cannes premiere of his noir drama Broken Embraces.

The film, their fourth collaboration, is in competition for the Palme d'Or, awarded this Sunday. At the movie's heart is a furtive love triangle involving a director and his leading lady.

Almodovar spoke frankly to the Cannes press pack about his reliance on female characters – and on Cruz in particular. "The male characters which come to [my] mind are terrible, horrible characters," he said. "My male characters intimidated me somewhat because for a male character I had to take myself as a reference." He sees Cruz as a graduate from the "Mediterranean school of acting... a style characterised by its carnality, messy hair, generous cleavage and shouting as a natural form of communication."

Cruz, 35, who had spent her previous day in Cannes crippled with food poisoning, said this latest project with Almodovar had been challenging. The mercury rose as the actress described shooting a sex scene: "I've never seen a love scene shot that way. That day I thought I was going to pass out." Almodovar has often subjected his leading ladies to fierce contortions but after four outings he remains on splendid terms with Cruz. The pair form part of a long tradition of directors standing by their women.

In 1995 Robert Rodriguez cast Salma Hayek in Desperado, and has also given her roles in a further five movies, briefly but notably as a Vampire Queen in From Dusk Till Dawn. Similarly, the dark and quirky Tim Burton is happy to see a familiar face when it comes to his leading ladies. Since getting together with Helena Bonham Carter during the filming of Planet of the Apes in 2001, he has cast her in a further three feature films, including her Golden-Globe nominated performance in Sweeney Todd.

Sometimes a lady makes her own luck. After Quentin Tarantino cast Uma Thurman as a zoned-out gangster's girlfriend in Pulp Fiction, on the set the two discussed an idea for a Chinese "revenge flick", which almost ten years later led to her starring for him again in two volumes of Kill Bill.

Woody Allen, of course, is famed for his reliance on a small stable of muses: Mia Farrow (13 films), Diane Keaton (six), Dianne Wiest (five) and, most recently, Scarlett Johansson (three).

Almodovar yesterday promised to end his reliance on the female psyche: "I feel less and less intimidated and so you are going to find more and more male characters in my films."

Cruz should consider herself fortunate. Almodovar told the press conference just how specific his direction can be: he said he once performed oral sex on an actress to explain how he wanted one of his raunchier scenes. "In a film I made a long time ago... I even performed cunnilingus on an actress to show the actor how to do it."

Cruz didn't raise an eyebrow.

Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project