Antonio Banderas - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: Spanish. Born: José Antonio Dominguez Banderas in Malaga, 10 August 1960. Family: Married 1) the actress Ana Leza 1988 (divorced 1996); 2) the actress Melanie Griffith 1996, daughter. Education: Began four-year course of studies in classics at Malaga's School of Dramatic Art, 1974. Career: 1980—moved to Madrid in search of professional career as actor; 1981—stage debut with Spain's National Theatre in Los Trantos ; 1982—film debut in Laberinto de Pasiones , the first of five films for director Pedro Almodóvar; 1992—U.S. film debut in The Mambo Kings . Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Laberinto de Pasiones ( Labyrinth of Passion ) (Almodóvar) (as Sadec); Pestañas Postizas ( False Eyelashes ) (Belloch); Y Del Seguro, Libranos Señor ( And Surely Set Us Free Lord ) (del Real)


El Señor Galindez ( Mr. Galindez ) (Khun) (as Eduardo)


El Caso Almería ( The Almería Case ) (Costa); Los Zancos ( The Stilts ) (Saura) (as Alberto)


Caso Cerrado ( Closed Case ) (Arecha); Réquiem por un Campsino Español ( Requiem for a Spanish Peasant ) (Betriu) (as Paco); La Corte de Faraon ( The Court of the Pharaoh ) (Sánchez) (as Friar José)


27 Horas ( 27 Hours ) (Armendáriz); Puzzle (Comeron); Matador ( Bullfighter ) (Almodóvar) (as Angel Giménez)


Así Como Habían Sido ( The Way They Were ) (Linares) (as Damian); La Ley del Deseo ( The Law of Desire ) (Almodóvar) (as Antonio Benitez)


El Placer de Matar ( The Pleasure of Killing ) (Rotaeta); Baton Rouge (Moleón) (as Antonio); Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios ( Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown ) (Almodóvar) (as Carlos); Bajarse al Moro ( Going South Shopping ) (Colomo) (as Alberto)


Si Te Dicen Que Caí ( If They Tell You That I Fell ) (Aranda) (as Marcos); La Blanca Paloma ( The White Dove ) (Minon) (as Mario)


¡Atame! ( Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! ) (Almodóvar) (as Ricki); Contra el Viento ( Against the Wind ) (Perinan) (as Juan)


Terra Nova ( New Land ) (Salvo); Truth or Dare ( In Bed with Madonna ) (Keshishian) (as himself); Cuentos de Borges I ( Borges Tales Part I ) (Vera) (as Rosendo Juárez)


The Mambo Kings (Glimcher) (as Nestor Castillo); Una Mujer Bajo la Lluvia ( A Woman in the Rain ) (Vera) (as Miguel)


¡Dispara! ( Outrage ; Shoot! ) (Saura) (as Marcos); Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme) (as Miguel Alvarez); The House of the Spirits (August) (as Pedro)


Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan) (as Armand); Of Love and Shadows (Kaplan) (as Francisco)


Miami Rhapsody (Frankel) (as Antonio); Never Talk to Strangers (Hall) (as Tony Ramírez); Assassins (Richard Donner) (as Miguel Bain); Desperado ( El Mariachi 2 ) (Rodríguez) (as El Mariachi); "The Misbehavers" ep. of Four Rooms (as the Father)


Two Much (Trueba) (as Art and Bart Dodge); Evita (Alan Parker) (as Che Guevara)


The Mask of Zorro (Campbell) (as Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro)


The 13th Warrior (McTiernan) (as Ahmad Ibn Fadlan); The White River Kid (Glimcher) (as Morales Pittman); Play it to the Bone (Shelton) (as Cesar Dominguez)


Original Sin (Cristofer) (as Louis Varga); The Body (McCord) (as Matt)


Spy Kids (Rodriguez)


By BANDERAS: articles—

Interview with Frederick Kaufman, in Interview (New York), May 1990.

Interview with Alex McGregor, in Time Out (London), May 20, 1992.

Interview with Roald Rynning, in Time Out (London), March 9, 1994.

On BANDERAS: articles—

Bethany, Marilyn, "Banderas Plays On," in Premiere (New York), March 1994.

Ryan, James, "Antonio's Secret," in Vogue (New York), January 1995.

Johnson, Hillary, "My Antonio," in Harper's Bazaar (New York), August 1995.

Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro
Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro

Ansen, David, "A Neo-Latin Lover," in Newsweek (New York), 4 September 1995.

Gelman-Waxner, Libby, "My Antonio," in Premiere (New York), November 1995.

* * *

In the tradition of Rudolph Valentino, whom the actor was to have portrayed in Nagisa Oshima's abortive 1992 film, Hollywood Zen , Antonio Banderas, with his sensuous, seductive charm and his black, curly hair, has become the Latin Lover for the 1980s and 1990s. "Is that man beautiful or what?" asks Madonna in Truth or Dare , and through his ambivalent on-screen attitude towards both gay and straight sex, Banderas has been able to persuade women and men to endorse Madonna's opinion. He must be the only actor to have graced the covers of the national gay publication, The Advocate (8 February 1994) and GQ (December 1995).

Banderas made "an irrational decision" to become an actor after seeing the performers appear nude in a 1974 Spanish production of Hair . And that same openness in regard to sex and nudity has been a prevailing factor in his career. He made his debut in Pedro Almodóvar's Labyrinth of Passion , playing a gay terrorist who French kisses and fondles the genitals of leading man Imanol Arias. In Almodóvar's The Law of Desire , which helped make Banderas an international star, the actor gives an extraordinary performance as a young man losing his virginity to a director with whom he is besotted and whom he later dominates to the point of obsession. The seduction sequence in which the Banderas character is anally penetrated with the camera fixed in close up on the actor's face is remarkable not only for the thoughts that the viewer perceives as passing through his mind but also for the physical position in which Almodóvar has placed his performer. In that The Law of Desire is, apparently, semiautobiographical, one can only agree with the critics who suggested that Banderas had become Jose Dallesandro to Almodóvar's Warhol.

It is Almodóvar who nurtured Banderas's career, casting him as a bullfighting student who faints at the sight of blood in Matador , and as the former psychiatric patient whose obsession with a porno actress leads to S&M and bondage in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! The professional relationship with Almodóvar obviously led to the actor's casting in a gay role in his second feature, False Eyelashes , but his later Spanish films gave Banderas wider scope for his talents. At least three, Requiem for a Spanish Peasant , If They Tell You That I Fell , and The Court of Pharaoh , deal with Spain's fascist era. His willingness to experiment on screen with any role led Banderas to accept leading roles in the first films of directors Enrique Belloch, Pedro Costa, Juan Caño Arecha, Andrés Linares, Felix Rotaeta, and Rafael Moleón.

The American films are not the equal of those from Spain. Banderas's casting as a Cuban in The Mambo Kings was ill-conceived, as have been efforts to present him as an action hero in Assassins and Desperado . He was wasted in the small role of Tom Hanks's lover in Philadelphia . All that Banderas's American work has done is advance his image as a sex symbol. In 1992, People magazine named him one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, and that same year, at the Academy Awards presentation, Billy Crystal described the actor as "the sexiest man alive," as Banderas presented an award with Sharon Stone (with whom he co-starred in a Freixenet champagne advertisement, directed by Bigas Luna). Unfortunately, as Caryn James wrote in the New York Times (21 October 1995), reviewing Never Talk to Strangers , Banderas and a mediocre script is "not an odd situation these days," and as the actor begins to look haggard and show signs of aging, it is obvious that a major career reevaluation is needed.

—Anthony Slide

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