Spanish actress Blanca Suárez turns in a captivating performance as Ruth, one of two ex-lovers abandoned by the same Don Juan (Guillermo Toledo) in Pedro Almodóvar’s high-flying new comedy, I’m So Excited. Ruth discovers that life in the clouds can be as complicated and precarious as it is at ground level, especially when sex and death are involved. Opening June 28, the film is a biting satire on the state of our world and features an ensemble cast that includes Javier Cámara, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo, José María Yazpik, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas, and Paz Vega.
At a roundtable interview, Suárez discussed working with Almodóvar again after starring in The Skin I Live In, his meticulous directing style, the challenges of shooting a bicycle scene pedaling up a steep hill in a dress and high heels, the enormous success of fellow countrymen Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem, how she hopes one day to work with Bardem and to achieve the success Cruz has enjoyed, what she looks for in a project, and the offers she’s currently considering in film and TV now that her sci-fi series, El Barco, has ended. Hit the jump to read the interview.
Blanca Suarez: He is always the same and he’s always really tough. It doesn’t matter if you have a small role or a big role. If you have a comedy or a drama, he is exactly the same when directing. He’s the same exact director.
What do you like about his directing style?
Suarez: I like him because he’s a very detail-oriented person and he offers you many tools in order to build up a character. He even does a great job with the pauses and the silences within the characters.
How did you become involved in this project?
Suarez: I worked with him on The Skin I Live In. When we were promoting The Skin I Live In, he approached me and said that he was writing something for me to do in the next film. I didn’t expect it to be in the very next film. I didn’t know that, but it happened like that.
Almodóvar said he was very specific with the wardrobe, was he the same as far as your character was concerned? Did you have specific instructions or did you already form your character beforehand?
Suarez: He never lets you improvise. It doesn’t matter what you do. He won’t. He rehearses a lot. You can improvise and create a lot within the rehearsals. But once you shoot, no.
Suarez: We only worked in one scene. It was really fast. But I admire him as an actor. In the scenes in which I’m using the phone, he was right next to me reading his lines, so that’s when we were together as well.
Is there anyone else from this cast that you wish you’d had more scenes with?
Suarez: I would have loved to have been able to be inside the plane, doing my role. I know they had a very good time.
You were not in the actual plane, but did you see what they had already filmed or did you just go by the script?
Suarez: I knew what was taking place on the plane and what scenes were being shot on the plane because I took part in the shooting in the last two weeks. It was at the end of the movie that I started to work with them. But I know that they had a really good time. I had been on the set a couple of times to try on some wardrobe.
How many takes did you have catching the cell phone dropped from the bridge?
Suarez: I have to say that those are special effects. But they came up with this arm that would drop the cell phone in the basket. I’m glad that they did it with this special robotic arm and didn’t throw it from the bridge, because otherwise I could have injured my head.
How was it shooting the bike scene?
Suarez: It was actually an electric bike, but it wasn’t necessary to turn it on. The street was very steep. When we were shooting on my way down, there was no problem because it was a very, very steep street in Madrid. But when we were doing it up, that was really uncomfortable because I was wearing high heels and then I was wearing a dress. It was a very inconvenient situation to ride a bike. But it wasn’t hard just to ride a bike.
Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?
Suarez: At the end of the movie, I like it when Fajas (Carlos Areces), the character, is in the middle, and all of them are hitting each other in the arm and walking away from the plane. I liked that scene very much.
Do you have a favorite memory from filming the movie?
Suarez: I don’t have a favorite. There’s so many things that I like. It was a very fast shoot for me. I liked the scene from the apartment where the Paz Vega character lived. It was full of color and everything. It was like being in a painting.
Pedro cast Penélope Cruz a long time ago and she became a Hollywood star. Are you ready?
Suarez: I’m ready! (Laughs) I think that happens only once in a while. But I would love to have the same opportunities. I would love to go through the same experiences that Penélope went through. It’s something really beautiful that happened to her and it would be great if it happened to me.
Suarez: Not specifically. But the positive side about this is when you work with Pedro, he exposes you. You do international press. It’s such great international exposure. But just because you film something with Pedro, the offers are not going to come up by themselves. You have to do the work. You have to do something about it. But the exposure that he gives you is really good.
What kind of roles are you interested in?
Suarez: There’s not one concrete role that I would like to play. There’s such a wide variety of characters that you can play that why would you say, I want to play this or that? By picking just one, you’re neglecting a lot more that you can do. I’m open to everything.
What do you look for in a script when you’re considering a project?
Suarez: To begin with, I need to be interested in the story. It needs to be interesting. It needs to engage me. And as a viewer, would I like to see the movie? That’s how I think. Would I like to see the movie if I were part of the public? The character needs to be well-written, well-developed, and that they will give you tools, options, and things to do. Sometimes you read your lines, but then when you sit down with the director and you talk about it, you realize that you have more possibilities.
Suarez: I would arrive at seven o’clock in the morning and they would put a lot of makeup on me and they would dress me up. And that’s it. I would arrive there just showered with wet hair, and they would transform me into my character.
But today, you are also beautiful. Do you pay attention to what you eat?
Suarez: Not as much as I should, but yes. I enjoy food. I enjoy having a good plate of food, and there are some things that I won’t give up, that I don’t want to sacrifice for now, like pasta.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re flying?
Suarez: Well it’s very unusual for what happened in the movie to happen in real life. My experiences on planes are actually very boring compared to what happens in the film. There’s not much to do.
Sometimes you can have a good conversation with the person sitting next to you who’s maybe from a different country or culture.
Suarez: Yes, that is a good experience and definitely something that I would enjoy. But I’m one of those people that if I could sleep all the way, all the hours that the trip takes, I would do it. I’m one of those people that just likes to sleep throughout the trip.
Suarez: A long time ago, I was very impressed with a movie that in Spain was called Forget About Me. But now I’m impressed with the one that Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey did, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I don’t know why I was so impressed. It really resonated with me and it evoked a lot of feelings in me. I also was impressed with Splendor in the Grass.
Is there a director or actor you’d like to work with?
Suarez: I would love to work with, to learn from Javier Bardem — even just clean his house. Do whatever.
What’s next for you?
Suarez: I just finished recording a TV series in Spain (El Barco), and with this trip, I think we’re finishing the international promotion for I’m So Excited, so I’m in this period of no man’s land. I’m receiving proposals and offers and reading projects, reading different scripts to see if I’m going to make a movie or a series because I have offers in both film and TV.
Do you like doing one more than the other or do you enjoy both?
Suarez: I like both. Both do offer a lot. It has happened in Spain, especially here, and in other countries, where TV is held in the same high regard as movies. There are so many good projects in TV that, yes, why not. Of course, I would like to do them.
What do you think of the success of fellow countrymen Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem?
Suarez: I think that what they have done is magnificent. For a person who doesn’t speak the language to have achieved what they have achieved — all three of them — is just magnificent. I’m very proud of them because it’s very difficult.
What makes you most proud about Spain?
Suarez: The food. I miss it a lot when I travel. That, and the sky. It’s a very special sky, all over Spain, but especially in Madrid which is where I live.