Carmen Maura
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Carmen Maura

Carmen Maura is a legendary Spanish actress who has had a range of hit films across decades of work. She is known for her frequent work with Pedro Almodóvar as well as many other blockbusters like 800 Bullets. She has also been considered a gay icon, thanks to her portrayal of a transsexual in one of her films. It comes as no surprise then that Maura has won more Goya awards than any other actress.

Early Career

Carmen Maura was born in 1945 in the Chamberí area of Madrid, to a doctor and his wife. From a small girl, she was interested in the world of theatre and interpretation. She studied hard and eventually ended up studying Philosophy and Literature, languages and Arts in Paris. She began her career by joining the Spanish University Theatre, where she was encouraged by the theatre critic Alfredo Marquerie to become an actress full time. Despite numerous personal problems, Maura stepped out into her acting career.

During the 1970s, Maura had to balance her work in theatre and small television parts with her jobs in cafes. Little by little, she received ever more important roles, including a few small parts in some films. She then joined the theatre company 'Los goliardos' with whom she managed to gain a certain amount of fame and prestige in Madrid. She started hanging around with artists and directors in the Movida scene such as Fernando Colomo and Félix Rotaeta, who helped her to further advance her career. With Colomo, she got her first lead roles in Tigres de papel and ¿Qué hace una chica como tú en un sitio como éste?.

Through her work with 'Los Goliardos' she met Pedro Almodóvar who at the time was a young guy working at a telephone company who was making short films with his Super8 camera. Together, they made several short films and other projects until, with the help of Félix Rotaeta, Carmen managed to find enough money for them to shoot their first feature length film Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón. The film was filled with problems and the shooting of it took over a year, but when it was finally screened, it became a huge success; a landmark in the Movida movement. Afterwards, Carmen Maura began working with other Spanish directors, most notably with Pilar Miró.

Rise to Fame

It was during the 1980s that Carmen Maura gained national and international fame. At the beginning of this decade, she began working for television, with her own interview program called Esta noche. She also appeared in a number of dramatic and comedy works including La huella del crimen and El Cid cabreador.

However, the 1980s were even more important for Carmen Maura as she continued to work with Pedro Almodóvar, appearing in a number of films that were successful both in Spain and abroad. She appeared in Entre tinieblas, ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?, Matador, La ley del deseo, and Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios during this period. Without doubt the most important of these films was Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios which was a true triumph, particularly in America where it was nominated for the Oscar for the Best Film in a Foreign Language. Maura herself received the Goya Prize for Best Lead Actress and the Felix (prize from the European Cinema) for the Best European Actress.

Aside from her work with Almodóvar, Maura also performed in many other films during this time, including Tata mía, Sé infiel y no mires con quién, and Cómo ser mujer y no morir en el intento. Unfortunately, at the end of the decade, she fell out with Almodóvar, refusing to work with him up until 2006.

Later Works

The 1990s and 2000s have continued to be some of the best years for Carmen Maura. One of her most notable works in the last few years include ¡Ay, Carmela!, directed by Carlos Saura, was a huge successes, winning a substantial amount of Goyas; a record which was only beaten by Mar adentro in 2004. She has also worked in various countries across the world, but always gives priority to works in Spain.

In 2006, she finally made up with Almodóvar, appearing in the movie Volver alongside Penelope Cruz. Her most recent critically acclaimed work was her performance in Tetro by Francis Ford Coppola, which she did as a substitute for Javier Bardem. The role was adapted especially for Maura, but Coppola eventually came to realize that a female lead worked better anyway.

Carmen's Memorable work

Carmen has won several awards over her career including several Goya awards such as Best Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Best Performance amongst others in the Fotogramas de Plata. She recently won the Locarno International Film Festival Excellence Award.

  • El Espirtu
  • Don Juan
  • Leonor
  • Los Ojos Vendados
  • What have I done to deserve this?
  • Matador
  • Happiness is in the field
  • Volver
  • 800 Bullets