Ten days after finishing the shoot for Strange Way of Life, the 30-minute English-language western starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has announced he will no longer direct A Manual for Cleaning Women, the adaptation of several of the 43 stories that make up the eponymous collection by Lucia Berlin. Almodóvar had been working on the project for five years, but according to the Deadline news site, he does not believe he is “ready to tackle such a monumental project in English.” “It has been a very painful decision for me,” Almodóvar told Deadline.
The film is set to star Cate Blanchett, who is also producing the movie with her Dirty Films production company. Dirty Films is now looking for a director to replace Almodóvar. “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 realize this film,” said Almodóvar, who presented Blanchett with the first ever International Goya Award, a new recognition from the Spanish Film Academy, in February.
At the 2021 premiere of Parallel Mothers, film producer Agustín Almodóvar, the younger brother of Pedro Almodóvar, told EL PAÍS that Berlin’s book had left a deep impression on his brother. He added that the stories would take place between Texas, Oakland and Mexico, in English and in Spanish. “Two-fifths of the script take place in Mexico,” he said. “So it could be shot in Spain on locations in the Canary Islands, Andalusia.” The producer explained that while the female character in each of the stories may be outwardly differently, “deep down, she is always Lucia.”
A Manual for Cleaning Women was set to be Almodóvar’s English-language feature directorial debut. He had been offered other directing projects in the US, such as Sister Act and The Paperboy, but turned them down on the grounds that they felt forced. He wrote the script to the movie Julieta, which is based on short stories by Alice Munro, with the idea that it would star Meryl Streep. But he then decided it would be better to set the story in Spain. While he has not directed a feature-length movie in English, he has made two short films in English: Strange Way of Life and the 2020 short movie The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton.