Who Is Antonio Banderas?
Antonio Banderas is a Spanish actor, director and singer. From 1982 to 1990, he acted primarily in films directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Banderas' success as an actor in America came with his role in Philadelphia (1993), and parts in other major U.S. releases were quick to follow. Banderas has appeared in such films as Interview with the Vampire (1994), Desperado (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998) and the Spy Kids trilogy. He performed the voice of Puss in Boots in the Shrek film series, and in the 2011 spin-off film, Puss in Boots. Banderas has also made appearances on Broadway and has directed several films.
Early Life and Movie Roles
Banderas was born José Antonio Domínguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in Málaga, Spain. After a broken foot ended his early dreams of becoming a soccer star, Banderas began studying drama. After appearing in local productions around Málaga, in 1979, Banderas moved to Madrid to pursue his acting career, eventually earning himself a spot with the National Theatre of Spain.
Films with Pedro Almodóvar
It was at the National Theatre that Banderas caught the attention of director Pedro Almodóvar. Almodóvar gave him a small part in his film Labyrinth of Passion (1982), and in the years that followed, Banderas would appear in many of his films, including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990).
Movies in Hollywood
Largely due to the international popularity of Almodóvar's films, in the early 1990s, Banderas began to build a film career in Hollywood. After a brief appearance in Madonna's Truth or Dare (1991), his first significant role came in The Mambo Kings (1992), for which his lack of English forced him to learn his lines phonetically. Despite this challenge, Banderas' performance as a struggling musician in the film was highly praised.
'Philadelphia,' 'Interview with the Vampire'
Banderas' real breakthrough to a mainstream American audience came the following year when he was cast in the highly touted drama Philadelphia (1993). In the film, Banderas portrayed the gay lover of a lawyer with AIDS (played by Tom Hanks) with a sensitivity that earned him significant critical acclaim. His star shining brightly, the following year Banderas appeared in Interview with the Vampire alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, firmly establishing himself as a Hollywood A-lister. He followed up in 1995 by co-starring with Sylvester Stallone in the action film Assassins and taking the lead in Desperado, the second installment of director Robert Rodriguez's Mexico trilogy.
'Mask of Zorro,' 'Spy Kids'
By now a bona fide leading man, in 1996, Banderas was reunited with Madonna to co-star in a film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita, during which he also had the opportunity to showcase his singing and dancing skills. Two years later, Banderas starred in the blockbuster The Mask of Zorro (1998), with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins, and several years later he further demonstrated his range as an actor by appearing in the first offering in the Rodriguez–directed Spy Kids trilogy.
'Puss in Boots'
The 2000s saw Banderas revisiting familiar roles in Spy Kids 2 (2002) and Spy Kids 3 (2003), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and The Legend of Zorro (2005). Along with his work in front of the camera, Banderas received a Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance in the Broadway musical Nine, and directed the films Crazy in Alabama (1999) and Summer Rain (2006). With his deep voice and pronounced accent, he won new fans as Puss in Boots in the popular animated film Shrek 2 (2004), which was followed by the spin-off Puss in Boots (2011), featuring Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis.
'The Expendables 3,' 'The 33'
In 2011, Banderas returned to his acting roots by appearing in the Almodóvar thriller The Skin I Live In. He later joined the ensemble cast of the Stallone action flick The Expendables 3 (2014) and lent his distinctive voice to The SpongeBob Movie (2015). Also in 2015, Banderas starred in The 33, a film based on the real-life drama of a group of Chilean miners who were trapped underground for more than two months in 2010.
'Security,' 'Genius,' 'Pain and Glory'
In 2017, Banderas starred in the action thriller Security, where he becomes a security guard at a shopping mall and comes to the rescue of a girl who's running away from a psychotic criminal. In 2018, he joined forces with the National Geographic Channel's Genius series to play Pablo Picasso in the second season of the anthology series.
The following year brought his eighth collaboration with Almodóvar, the actor channeling his mentor as an aging film director struggling with physical and emotional distress in the deeply personal Pain and Glory.
Banderas suffered a heart attack while exercising at his Surrey home on January 26, 2017, requiring three stents to be implanted in his weakened ticker. He later told The Irish Times it was "one of the best things that ever happened" to him, saying the whole process helped him understand what was truly important in life.
Wife and Children
Banderas met actress Melanie Griffith on the set of Two Much (1996). After a whirlwind romance and his divorce from wife Ana Leza, the couple married in May 1996. Their daughter, Stella, was also born that year.
After 18 years of marriage, in 2014, the couple announced they were divorcing, which became official the following year. Banderas has since been dating Dutch investment consultant Nicole Kimpel.
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