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Antonio Banderas

From The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas


Early life

Banderas was born in Málaga, Andalucia, southern Spain, the son of doña Ana Banderas, a school teacher, and José Domínguez, a policeman in the Guardia Civil. He also has a brother, Francisco. Banderas was raised a Roman Catholic, but no longer follows the religion. He took his mother's surname as his stage name. He initially wanted to play soccer professionally, but his dream ended when he broke his foot at age 14. As a young man, he traveled to Madrid, in order to make a career in the Spanish film industry.

Career in Spain

His acting career began at the age of 19, when he worked in small theaters during the Movida period. He first gained wide attention through a series of films by director Pedro Almodóvar, between 1982 and 1990. These included Laberinto de pasiones (1982), Matador (1986), La ley del deseo (1987), Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988), and ¡Átame! (1989). His breakthrough role was as the character "Ricky" in ¡Átame! (English-language title: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!), which was a minor success in the United States.

Career in Hollywood

He subsequently moved to the U.S. and began appearing in American films; some of his earlier roles there included the 1992 film, The Mambo Kings, as well as a supporting role in the Oscar-winning 1993 film, Philadelphia. He appeared in several major Hollywood releases in 1995, including a starring role in the Robert Rodriguez-directed film, Desperado. In 1996, he starred alongside Madonna in Evita, an adaptation of the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in which he played the narrator, Che, a role originally played on Broadway by Mandy Patinkin.

He has also frequently collaborated with his Desperado director, Rodriguez, who cast him in the Spy Kids film trilogy and the final installment in the "Mariachi" trilogy (which he appeared in with Johnny Depp), Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Banderas' sole credit as a director was the poorly-received Crazy in Alabama (1999), starring his wife Melanie Griffith. He also has received praise for being the first Spanish actor to portray the legendary Spanish masked swordsman, Zorro in The Mask of Zorro (1998).

In 2003, he returned to the musical genre, appearing to great acclaim in the Broadway revival of Maury Yeston's musical Nine, based on the film 8½, playing the prime role originated by the late Raul Julia. Banderas won both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards, and was nominated for the Tony Award for best actor in a musical. His performance is preserved on the Broadway cast recording released by PS Classics.

His voice role as Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third made the character popular on the family film circuit. In 2006, he starred in Take the Lead, a high school-set movie in which he played a real-life ballroom dancing teacher. That year, he also received the L.A. Latino International Film Festival's "Gabi" Lifetime Achievement Award, on October 14. He hosted Saturday Night Live's 600th episode (in season 31). The musical guest was Mary J. Blige. He performed a voice-over for a computer-animated bee which can be seen in the United States in television commercials for Nasonex, an allergy medication, and can currently be seen in the Christmas advertising campaign for Marks & Spencer, a British retailer.


Filmography (RR Flicks)

Fun Quotes

  • "If they had offered me James Bond, I probably couldn't have gone to England anymore in my life. James Bond with an accent? That would have been something."