PEDRO ALMODOVAR’S THE SKIN I LIVE IN contains some gruesome plot twists that will have many moviegoers squirming in their seats, but star ANTONIO BANDERAS has some advice for them: Give it time.

“Pedro needs to be metabolized, he needs to be digested,” ANTONIO said during an interview at last month’s TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.

The actor, of course, knows of what he speaks.

PEDRO ALMODOVAR is widely credited with launching the Spanish hearthrob’s career in the early 80s.

“Those were movies that were unbelievably controversial,” recalled ANTONIO.

“I remember when Law Of Desire came out some people wanted to literally kill us, you know. It was unbelievable. But nevertheless, those movies 20 years after became classics of the Spanish cinema.”

THE SKIN I LIVE IN, about an obsessed plastic surgeon with a mysterious past, marks the first time in more than 20 years that ANTONIO has collaborated with his old friend.

The project, he said, had its genesis about a decade ago when the director mentioned he’d been inspired by the THIERRY JONQUET novel TARANTULA, on which the film is based.

Then, about two years ago, ANTONIO was in New York doing a workshop for a musical when he got the call.

“I came out and I answered the phone and literally, even without saying hello, he says: ‘It’s about time.’ And I said: ‘OK. Do you have a script all ready?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’…Two days after that he sent the script and I read it and it was quite extraordinary.”

ANTONIO, who has earned a reputation for wildly diverse roles, is very careful about that crucial first read through of a script.

“It is the only time that you are a spectator of your own work. Once you have read the script…you are contaminated, all ready in the process of creating whatever you are going to do. And it (initially) produced pretty much the same impact (in me) that I can observe now in people that are coming out of the movie theatre.”

ANTONIO was captivated by the structure of the movie. The first half raises multiple questions (why is the surgeon keeping a beautiful woman captive in his house?) which are slowly answered as his back story is revealed.

“It positions the people in terms of morality. Little by little…the story starts being developed, you reposition the whole entire movie and it’s like ‘Oh, my God.'”

PEDRO ALMODOVAR allowed his actors almost a month and a half of rehearsal and ANTONIO said the filmmaker helped him reach new heights as a performer.

“He made me play some notes that I didn’t even know I had. For me, the first tendency when you read on paper a character that is actually bigger than life is to show some acting muscles and go more Caligula, if you will. And he said: ‘No, we have to take (this character) down and make him very economical and minimalist.'”

THE SKIN I LIVE IN is by turns dark, campy and sometimes downright outrageous. ANTONIO acknowledges that audiences may have to sit with the material for awhile, reaching for a colourful comparison to describe the effect of PEDRO ALMODOVAR’S work.

“(It’s like when) they serve you a dish that is very edible and in a package you recognize and a flavour you recognize. When somebody gives you a complicated dish you may have a reticence, you put yourself immediately in a defensive way.”

“What is happening? I don’t understand this…You start a game with yourself….In a way, time is the best friend for (Pedro).”

“When you think you catch him he just takes a leap that is bigger than you think it’s going to be.”

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