Born on the 10th of August 1960, Antonio Banderas has a host of talents which he has demonstrated over his career as a successful actor, director and singer. Beginning at a young age, Banderas has transformed himself from a small time actor working in the Spanish language, to an international superstar who has starred alongside some of the greats of Hollywood.
Banderas was born in the southern Spanish city of Malaga to a police officer and a school teacher. In his early years he found his passion within sports, particularly soccer, and he had a dream of becoming a professional soccer player. He was on course to play professionally and was attracting attention, but he broke his foot during his teenage years causing that dream to fade. He then joined a theatre group and began taking drama lessons in order to nourish his other talent. In the end, he was eventually incorporated as a theatre actor with the Spanish National Theatre Company.
His acting career officially began at the age of 19. After seeing some of his performances on stage, legendary Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar decided to take Antonio Banderas under his wing, and gave him a number of roles with him in a variety of his movies. Banderas debuted in the film Laberinto de pasiones in 1982. He appeared in so many of Almodóvar's films that many people believe that he was one of the most important factors that contributed to the director's rise in success. One of his more significant roles was in 1989 with ¡Atame!. His character, Ricky, gave him the first stepping stone to launch his international career.
The name of Antonio Banderas was first heard by the American audience in 1991 in the documentary style film entitled Madonna: Truth or Dare, in which Madonna says that she wants to seduce the Spanish actor, even though he is a married man. A year later, he began his career in English-speaking films. Despite having to learn his lines by sound alone as his English was so bad, he was still met with praise for his role in The Mambo Kings. However, his first real success in the US came with the film Philadelphia in 1993. In this movie, Banderas played the part of a gay lover to the AIDS-afflicted lawyer Andrew Beckett (played by Tom Hanks). It brought him particular fame and recognition, leading to a number of high profile roles in American cinema.
In Hollywood, he has been the star in several important roles, most memorably The Mask of Zorro in 1998. In fact, he was the first Spanish actor to portray the character in the over 70 years that the character had existed. He also had the chance to work with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire, with Sylvester Stallone in Assassins and with Madonna in Evita. During this period Antonio attempted to flex his directing talents, which weren't completely welcomed. Then, in 2003, he decided to turn to another of his many passions: the stage! From here he revived the role played by Raul Julian in the production of Nine. For his part he won the Outer Critics and Drama Desk award.
His image of Zorro seemed to remain with him throughout his career and although the second installment of Zorro wasn't such a big hit as the first, the character was reincarnated in Shrek in the form of the character Puss in Boots. Voiced by Banderas, this animated cat was a direct link to his image and has become a huge success, meriting its own film Puss in Boots, released in 2011.
The year 2011 also marked Banderas' return to working with Pedro Almodóvar after a 21 year break, when he starred in the director's latest film La piel que habito. Instead of playing his usual Latino seducer role, Banderas was cast as a vengeful plastic surgeon. His appearance in this horror film has been considered by Antonio Banderas as one of his strongest in recent years.
His other projects have included appearing in advertisements for chains such as English chain Marks & Spencers. He is also passionate about wine, owning fifty percent of a winery located in northern Spain.
List of his notable Films and Productions
- Mask of Zorro
- Interview with the vampire