Strange Way of Life director opens up about Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke’s ‘absolutely erotic’ chemistry

Strange Way of Life director Pedro Almodóvar (L) on 'absolutely erotic' scenes.

Strange Way of Life director Pedro Almodóvar has hinted at the “subtle” but “absolutely erotic” sexual tension between Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in his new gay cowboy film.

The highly anticipated short film – touted as Oscar-winning gay filmmaker Almodóvar’s answer to Brokeback Mountain – follows gunslinging cowboy Silva (Pedro Pascal) who rides across the desert after 25 years to visit Sheriff Jake (Ethan Hawke). This long overdue reunion takes a turn when they acknowledge they are not just friends, but lustful lovers.

Despite the clear sexual chemistry between Pascal and Hawke, the film’s erotic nature is explored through language rather than actual “f**king”, as Almodóvar told the Times in an interview on Thursday (21 September).

The “naked” and “undressed” dialogue is “much more erotic and powerful than showing them f***ing,” Almodóvar explained. Intimacy is explored in Strange Way of Life through conversation and soulful gazes.

Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke in Strange Way of Life.
Pedro Pascal (L) and Ethan Hawke (R) in Strange Way of Life. (El Deseo)

“It’s more subtle but it’s absolutely erotic,” he said. “I know they both have a lot of admirers so it’s good for audiences to know they’re not going to see them f**k.” Essentially, the most explicitly sexual action viewers receive is a fleeting shot of Pascal’s butt

The queer Western, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May, opened to mixed reviews. Described as “tense and poignant” by one reviewer, elsewhere in Variety, the film was dubbed “half-baked and barely delivered”.

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Given the lack of steamy scenes, Almodóvar clarified that he did not use intimacy coordinators on set.

“I don’t think I will need one of them in the future,” he continued. “And I have to say that the actors who have spoken to me about it say they feel — how do I put this? — belittled.

“They feel insulted by that type of advice. Because for them it goes without saying that they know the limits they can go to.”

In separate interview with IndieWire, The Mandalorian star Pascal teased the “playful sexiness” of the film.

“I don’t imagine sexual chemistry as something to approach,” he said. “It’s simply a matter of playing the character. [Almodóvar] put his trust in us to inhabit the story as he felt so much of the work was accomplished by casting.

“I think there’s a disarming and playful sexiness to everything [Almodóvar] does.”

Strange Way of Life also stars Manu Rios, José Condessa, Jason Fernández, Ernice Lohan and Sara Sálamo, and opens in UK cinemas on 25 September 2023.