Pedro Almodovar wanted Antonio Banderas to "renounce" his previous work for 'Pain and Glory'.

Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar

The 69-year-old director thinks the Spanish actor's role in his new movie as ageing director Salvador Mallo will be "very distinctive" because his performance is so different to anything else he's ever done as he wanted his lead star to be more understated.

He told the I newspaper: "This is a very distinctive piece of work for him. His interpretations of the role is very much opposite to what made him famous: the bravura, the showmanship. It was almost like a process of renouncing what he'd done previously. This role is very much about his renewal as an actor."

The filmmaker admitted it was particularly difficult to call his fellow Spaniard and tell him, "the last thing I want you to be is Antonio Banderas".

The non-linear tale - which is based on the director's own life - also features Penelope Cruz as Salvador's mother Jacinta and Pedro insisted it was a "very natural choice" to cast his frequent collaborator.

He added: "It was a like a continuation of the work we were doing in the past. Almost in every movie she plays a mother, but this one is very different from the others. In 'Volver', for example she is a contemporary Spanish mother, whereas in this case she plays the mother of a poor family in the early Sixties. It was a very dark, post-war time and she carries the burden of humiliation on her shoulders, but with a spirit of survival."

And he suggested that 45-year-old Penelope is the only actress he knows who can wear "vintage clothes of that era" but still look "absolutely fabulous".

He said: "Penelope is the only actress I know who can stand wearing vintage clothes of that era, of poor people at that time, and still look absolutely fabulous. It's hard for her not to look glamorous."

Despite the movie's autobiographical nature, Pedro insists it's only loosely based on elements of his life as well as the lives of his family and friends.

He said: "Up to the point where I could have done what happened in the film but I didn't. I was there in each of those three epochs represented, but the things that happen didn't necessarily happen in that order and not necessarily to me. It comes from reality, but not only my reality. Not only my memories, but those of my sisters, my brother, my friends. I wasn't holding up a mirror but I was the main reference."