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Pilar Revuelta

Set decorator won Oscar for 'Pan's Labyrinth'

Pilar Revuelta’s film roots, working on short films with friends, are more collegial than academic. “We did it on the weekends and everyone did a little bit of everything,” she remembers. “It’s kind of common in Spain.”

She later followed her then-boyfriend to the American Film Institute in Hollywood and ultimately ended up getting a grant to study there herself.

The Madrid-based set decorator (who says, “I was supposed to be a lawyer”) returned to Hollywood earlier this year to collect an Oscar for work on Guillermo del Toro’s dark and gorgeously haunting fable “Pan’s Labyrinth” (a prize shared with production designer Eugenio Caballero).

“It was a big challenge to find the separation between the two worlds in the film — the imaginary world and the strange reality of the little girl. But with Guillermo it was easy; he is so giving with all of his talents and a very funny guy.”

She previously collaborated with the Mexican helmer on his first Spain-shot pic, “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001).

“I hope he keeps on coming to Spain,” says Revuelta. “He is a full person in all the senses.”

As a set decorator she helped Pedro Almodovar achieve his trademark vivid color schemes in “Bad Education” (2004) and also worked with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo on his acclaimed first feature “Intacto” (2001).

She’s currently at work on Steven Soderbergh’s two films about Che Guevara: “The Argentine,” shooting in Puerto Rico and Mexico, and “Guerrilla,” which is now lensing in Madrid and southern Spain.

Vocation: “What I do is complement the film’s aesthetic. The structure is there and I bring the elements to make it livable.”

Recent breakthrough: “Pan’s Labyrinth,” for which Revuelta won an Oscar with art director Eugenio Caballero.

Role model: “Painters. From my country, Goya — I like his black period. And people who keep on doing what they like doing — housekeepers who love their work, women who are devoted to their children…”

Career mantra: “Life is what you bring to the work. Everything you use and touch…”

What’s next: Steven Soderbergh’s back-to-back Che Guevara biopics.

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