In the flesh
ELENA Anaya wasn’t Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s first choice to play the female lead in his film The Skin I Live In.
But the 36- year- old beauty ( pictured) inhabits Vera Cruz’s skin- coloured body suit with such dramatic conviction, it’s now impossible to imagine any other actor in the role.
Part melodrama, part horror story, Almodovar’s reworking of the Frankenstein myth features his long- time collaborator Antonio Banderas as an unhinged plastic surgeon who meticulously remakes Vera in the image of his late wife.
The director initially envisaged another of his regulars, Penelope Cruz, as Vera but she was unavailable.
The role of Vera required a big leap of faith for all concerned, Anaya says.
‘‘ I was very nervous. There was a lot of pressure. The character was so complex,’’ she says. ‘‘ I like the dark side. I like to make people think. It’s not my job just to entertain.’’
The Skin I Live In sees Banderas working with Almodovar for the first time since 1990’ s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! after which the Latin heart- throb opted to try his luck in the US.
Almodovar’s films provided a platform for Banderas and Cruz to make the leap to Hollywood and it’s not hard to imagine Anaya following a similar path. She doesn’t rule it out, even though a 2004 flirtation as one of Dracula’s brides in
Van Helsing failed to set the world on fire. ‘‘ Hollywood does not just make entertainment,’’ she says.
‘‘ A lot of actors play really interesting and fabulous roles at least a few times in their life.
‘‘ I’ll go anywhere to work if it’s worth it. I don’t want to bore people in the cinemas and I don’t want to bore myself.’’
Yet it has been difficult to find a satisfactory follow- up to Vera who, like many Almodovar women, hides a tough core beneath a fragile exterior.
But whatever project Anaya chooses, one thing’s for certain: she won’t be playing it safe.
‘‘ I do this job like a way of living, it’s my way of communicating, the way I love to be alive,’’ she says.
‘‘ And when Pedro or any other director calls you, it could be the last time, the last opportunity, the last chance.’’
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Now showing State Cinema