Pedro Almodóvar started out making underground movies in post-Franco Spain 40 years ago. Today, 21 feature films and multiple awards – including two Oscars – later, he is one of the most revered filmmakers in the world, known for his distinctive aesthetic, colourful off-beat characters and taboo-busting storylines.

Last night was the premiere of his latest film, and arguably most personal to date, Pain and Glory, which follows the story of an ageing film director, Salvador Mallo, whose life we discover in three stages through his memories and recounted stories: his youth in 1960s Valencia where his parents went in search of prosperity, the 80s in Madrid and the joy and pain of his first relationship and its breakdown through to the modern day where he grapples with physical ailments and an inability to make further movies.

The film stars two of the director’s long-time muses, Penélope Cruz, who returns to play another “Spanish mother” role, this time inspired by Almodóvar’s own mother, and Antonio Banderas, who gives a career-best performance in a very moving take on Salvador, heavily influenced in both appearances and character by the real-life director.

We had the privilege of speaking with the Spanish auteur on the red carpet at Somerset House about how autobiographical the film really is and what draws him to Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas as actors specifically.

A stunning Penélope Cruz spoke to us about how she had always admired the director and her view on his skill for representing female characters.

Antonio Banderas stopped to tell us what his experience was of playing the role and the personal journey he has gone on to reach this point in his career is in today.

Sarah Bradbury
Videos: Marta Starzcynowska

First published on The Upcoming on 17th August 2019. Pain and Glory is released in select cinemas on 23rd August 2019.

Watch the trailer for Pain and Glory here: