Carmen Maura gets Spanish Academy medal

For her contribution to the improvement of Spanish cinema

MADRID -- Spanish actress Carmen Maura won the Spanish Film Academy's Golden Medal for 2009 on Monday, "for her contribution to the improvement of Spanish cinema."

Maura, one of Pedro Almodovar's original muses and most-used actresses, starred in a wide range of films, including: Almodovar's "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," "The Law of Desire" "Volver;" Alex de la Iglesia's "Common Wealth;" and, Francis Ford Coppola's "Tetro."

"It was a complete surprise," Maura said. "I'm very happy to receive the medal in Alex de la Iglesias' first year as president of the Academy."

Maura will receive the medal from De la Iglesia in a formal ceremony Wednesday afternoon, followed by a gala dinner honoring her that night.

Previous recipients of the award include Carlos Saura, Antonio Banderas and Maribel Verdu.