Spanish singer, actor, director and producer Antonio Banderas is a man of many talents within the entertainment industry. Before he became a renowned thespian in Spain and an international super star of the big screen, he wished to be a professional soccer player and was a part of Real Madrid’s youth team from 1974 to 1977 as a striker, but had to retire from the sport after an ankle injury. Even though he had to give up pursuing his first dream, Banderas is happy with his career decision to switch gears and become an actor.
“If I was a soccer player that would be over 15 years ago. I am very happy actually that I broke the foot,” said Banderas.
Following the damage to his foot, Banderas started taking drama classes in high school after seeing a production of the musical “Hair” and then went to the School of Dramatic Art in Malaga. Soon afterwards, he made his acting debut in a small theater. Later he toured with a troupe at a theater company throughout Spain at playhouses or on the streets, but he would be arrested at least three times for his performance in controversial works by playwrights like Bertolt Brecht under the repressive regime of General Francisco Franco.
In order to support his acting career when he moved to Madrid, Banderas had to wait tables and take modeling gigs. In 1981, Banderas’ patience soon paid off because at 21-years-old he became the youngest actor in the National Theatre of Spain. From there, he quickly captured the attention of one of Spain’s most celebrated directors, Pedro Almodovar, and became a part of the La Movida Madrilena film movement after the death of the dictator Franco, and collaborated in several of the filmmaker’s sexual and political liberation films.
After a string of films with Almodovar during the 1980s, Banderas made his Hollywood debut in the highly regarded movie, “The Mambo Kings,” as a Latin crooner. Critical and commercial success followed in films like “Philadelphia” and “Interview with a Vampire.” After starring with Madonna in “Evita,” Banderas became a Hollywood heartthrob and go-to leading man. This resulted in him nabbing the character of Zorro in the popular film franchise which is one of his most recognizable roles. The other being the scene stealing role of Puss in Boots in “Shrek 2,” a character that was so popular that it led to a spinoff film which earned $555 million internationally and will have a sequel (Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves) that will hit theaters Nov. 2, 2018.
“It did incredibly well with audiences and critics, all around the world, and the character is going to keep going… this character was born almost 12 years ago. We have had a lot of fun with him, and it seems that audiences do, too. So, we’re doing another one,” said Banderas.
For fans that can’t wait to see more from Banderas, he has two films that were announced this year (Dear Mister Obama and 33 dias), one in post-production (Altamira) and two films coming out later this year (Knight of Cups, The 33).
- He has a line of perfume
- Banderas’ English was so poor when he first came to Hollywood the script for “The Mambo Kings” had to be made for him phonetically and the opposite happened for his co-star Armand Assante, who played his older Cuban brother, because Assante didn’t know Spanish
- He has a 50 percent stake in a winery in Northern Spain
- He serves as an officer for a religious brotherhood in Malaga and takes part of the Holy Week processions
- He also does the Spanish voice over work for Puss in Boots