Carmen Maura

Actress Carmen Maura worked for over a dozen years in film and television in her native Spain before breaking through to international audiences with 1988's award-winning "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." It was one of eight films in which Maura was directed by Pedro Almodovar and an ideal showcase of her ability to carry a film with commanding presence, raw emotion, and campy wit. She also made a mark for her daring artistic choices, going beyond the taboo of playing a liberated woman to take on risky roles like a transsexual or drug addicted nun. In the 1980s and 1990s, as Spain recovered from years of artistic oppression under dictator Francisco Franco, the team of Maura and Almodovar emerged as among the most respected figures in contemporary European cinema.