- Maura, Carmen
- (1945- )Carmen Maura was born in Madrid and started her acting career in the independent theater. In the early years of the Transition, she became a recurring presence (typecast as a liberal middle-class intellectual) in comedies and an example of a new generation of post-Franco actors who did not bring any memories of the dictatorship. She had one of the main roles in Pedro Almodóvar's Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, Bom, 1981), in which she was among the few professionals in a large cast made up of assorted nightlife types and friends. She matured as an actress under Almodóvar, in a collaboration which continued into the 1980s, with four further films in that decade. She played small supporting roles in Entre tinieblas (Dark Habits, 1983) and Matador (1986), but displayed her range in three very different central roles in ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! (What Have I Done to Deserve This? 1984), La ley del deseo (Law of Desire, 1987), and especially Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988). These parts were a revelation to audiences and critics, and she won the Goya for the latter.Maura also established her reputation with some non-Almodóvar comic roles, for instance her earthy best friend to protagonist Ana Belén in Fernando Trueba's vaudeville Sé infiel y no mires con quién (Be Wanton and Tread No Shame, 1986). After Mujeres, her professional collaboration with Almodóvar was interrupted, but she continued giving a series of intense performances, combining comedy and drama, during the 1990s. The most remarkable were in ¡Ay Carmela! (Carlos Saura, 1990), Sombras en una batalla (Shadows in a Battle, Mario Camus, 1993), and La comunidad (The Community, Álex de la Iglesia, 2000). She was nominated for a Goya for all of these and won again for the latter.Maura's career slumped at the turn of the century, owing to personal problems. During the 1990s, she worked extensively in France, Belgium, Portugal, and Italy, mostly in supporting parts. Among her international films, the most important are Le bonheur est dans le pré (Happiness Is in the Countryside, Etienne Chatillez, 1995), Elles (Them, Luis Galvao Teles, 1997), Alice et Martin (Alice and Martin, André Techiné, 1998), Le harem de Madame Osmane (Madame Osmane's Harem, Nadir Moknèche, 2000), Assassoni di giorni di festa (The Holiday Murderers, Damiano Damiani, 2002), Le ventre de Juliette (Juliette's Belly, Martin Provost, 2003), and Le pacte du silence (Pact of Silence, Graham Guit, 2003). Back in Spain, her most important parts were in Alex de la Iglesia's 800 balas (800 Bullets, 2002), in which she played a busy mother; as a ruthless hotel manager in Manuel Gómez Pereira's Reinas (Queens, 2005), and, most iconically, in Almodóvar's Volver (2006), a continuation of sorts of their previous collaboration ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! in which she played Penélope Cruz's grand-mother.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.