Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke share “erotic” chemistry in new gay western Strange Way of Life

Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar described his new short film starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke as "subtle" but "absolutely erotic".

Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke starring in gay western short Strange Way of Life, with Pascal hugging Hawke from behind while the latter has a towel on his shoulders.
Image: via X - @michaeljemmons1

The highly-anticipated gay western Strange Way of Life, starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke and directed by award-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, released yesterday, September 25, for a one-day-only screening in venues such as the Irish Film Institute and Light House Cinema. The two actors play long-lost lovers in the short film, which will soon be available to stream online.

Described as Almodóvar’s answer to Brokeback Mountain, the western follows cowboy Silva (Pedro Pascal) as he rides across the desert to reunite with Sheriff Jake (Ethan Hawke) after 25 years apart. As the storyline develops, we find out that the two are not merely friends but have been lovers in the past.

A flashback scene where actors José Confessa and Jason Fernández play younger versions of the two main characters introduces us to their complicated love story, as the two first succumb to their sexual passion. Now in their 50s and reuniting 25 years later, the two fall right back into old patterns as their spark rekindles while they try to navigate a difficult situation involving a heinous crime.

With this short, Almodóvar offered a new take on the classic American Western, using a queer storyline to challenge the machismo typically infused in the genre. Another subversion of the genre can be seen in how the typically muted cowboy tones are replaced by vibrant colours, provided by the wardrobe choices made by Saint Laurent.

Speaking about the film ahead of its release to The Times, Almodóvar described how, while there is no actual sex scene in the film, its erotic nature is explored through language.


According to the Academy Award-winning gay director, the “naked” and “undressed” dialogue in the film is “much more erotic and powerful than showing them f***ing”. He explained, “It’s more subtle but it’s absolutely erotic. 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.”

The director also spoke about what it was like to work with Hawke and Pascal, saying: “Filming with them has been a marvellous experience. Because also there was great chemistry between them from the start.”

In a previous interview with Insider, Pascal also opened up about the opportunity to work with a celebrated filmmaker like Almodóvar, stating, “It could have been anything that [Almodóvar] asked me to do, and I would have done it without question”.

“He absolutely opened up an entire world of storytelling, colour, culture, rebellion, and sexuality that was just absolutely intoxicating, dangerous, hilarious, heartbreaking, and encompassing the whole spectrum, but with such a signature style,” he explained.

“It was really an incredible opportunity to go, learn, and to enjoy the experience of being on the level of people like that. Taking it all in was incredible,” Pascal said.

Strange Way of Life debuted in cinemas yesterday, with screenings followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with director Almodóvar, in which he explained what he imagined would happen in the story after the short’s conclusion. Watch the full trailer below.


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