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Pedro Almodóvar Says Madonna Treated Him and Antonio Banderas ‘Like Simpletons’ in the ’90s

Cue the ‘90s flashback! Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

Pedro Almodóvar has a score to settle (from the comfort of his Madrid apartment). The director used his latest “Quarantine Diary,” translated and published by IndieWire, to let go of a weird interaction he and his Pain and Glory star Antonio Banderas had with Madonna back in 1990. The filmmaker recalled inviting Madonna to a flamenco party in Madrid and having to witness the pop star’s attempts at seducing the then-up-and-coming (and married) Antonio Banderas. All the while, she filmed the dinner, telling Almodóvar it was a “keepsake.” It was actually Madonna: Truth or Dare, a 1991 documentary following her Blonde Ambition World Tour that ultimately grossed over $29 million, the highest for a doc at the time. “She didn’t ask for permission to use our images, and she even dubbed me, because my English mustn’t have been that good,” Almodóvar asserted in his diary.

“Antonio’s harassment was one of the main storylines, and she, obviously, edited in how she dispatched [Banderas’s wife], Ana Leza, with only one sentence,” Almodóvar wrote of Truth or Dare. “At the end of the dinner, Ana dared to get close to our table and told the divine blonde sarcastically, ‘I see you like my husband. It doesn’t surprise me — all women like him — but I don’t mind because I am very modern.’ To which Madonna replied: ‘Get lost.’” Despite her apparently aggressive attempts at home-wrecking, Banderas didn’t bite. “At some point during the dinner, Madonna told me, ‘Ask Antonio if he likes hitting women (I swear it was like that),” the director recalled. “I translated it for him. Antonio doesn’t say anything. He mumbles, and he pulls a face as if to say, ‘I am a Spanish gentleman, and I’ll do whatever a lady asks me to do.’ For me, it was an eloquent silence and gesture. But Madonna wanted more.” He asked again … and got the same answer. “There had to be a pandemic for the world to know what that dinner was like in reality,” he added.

“I don’t mind if this seems like a settling of scores. If it had been the other way round (me filming Madonna and her team and making a film with all that material which I would then premiere around the world) I would have taken such a hit in the form of a lawsuit I’d still be recovering from it,” Almodóvar wrote. “Madonna treated us like simpletons, and I had to say it one day.”

Pedro Almodóvar Recalls an Awkward Dinner Party With Madonna