Carmen Maura to replace Javier Bardem in 'Tetro'


NEW YORK -- In what Francis Ford Coppola is calling a "sex change" operation, Carmen Maura is replacing fellow Spaniard Javier Bardem in the family drama "Tetro."

Coppola said his rewrite of the pivotal role came during rehearsals for the film's 11-week shoot, which began March 31 in Buenos Aires.

"One of the important roles in the script is a mentor and teacher to Tetro (Vincent Gallo), and I originally wrote it for a man," he said. "As I read and reread (the script), I felt that the interaction between the two characters would be far more intriguing if they were of the opposite sex."

The director often changes key elements of his script beĀ¬fore and during filming, he said, but acĀ¬cording to another person involved in the deal, Bardem "became unavailable" for the project and is reading drafts of the script for his starring role in Rob Marshall's "Nine." The Weinstein Co.'s adaptation of the Broadway musical was delayed by the WGA strike and is expected to begin shooting in September.

Pedro Almodovar staple Maura ("Volver") recently joined around the time of rehearsals in Buenos Aires, which Bardem never attended. Although he had a supporting role and was only set to film for two weeks, the "No Country for Old Men" star was the highest profile name among the cast and the only Oscar nominee. (He went on to winning the award for best supporting actor in February.)

Maura will play a literary critic and mentor to Tetro, whose younger brother (Alden Ehrenreich) searches for him in Argentinia's capital city. Maribel Verdu also stars. Coppola's American Zoetrope is producing the $15 million production.