BANDERAS: A PUSS IN BOOT'S CLOTHING
Antonio Banderas/Shrek 2 Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles. Antonio Banderas confesses that his nearly10-year old marriage to MelanieGriffith is stronger than ever. To be married in our profession is not aneasy thing, as there are too many beautiful people around, very interestingpeople, Banderas admits while promoting his latest film, Shrek 2. It'sjust a matter of really being patient and probably have the capacity andfaith of falling in love with your own wife again, which happened to me,Banderas confesses. It's almost like a fire that you just feed with littlepieces of wood, little by little and then if you cross a certain line aroundthe sixth, seventh, eighth year, everything becomes easier. We are nowactually living a beautiful time together rediscovering amounts of thingsthat are not probably related to passion, but to some things that are moremature, that start driving us to maturity in a nice way. I don't know how toexplain it actually, but it's a feeling and more a sense that goes to family which is cool.
Banderas is equally happy to talk about Shrek 2, the sequel to thesuccessful animated hit. The person most surprised that he actually stealsthe new Shrek from the likes of Myers and Murphy, is the actor responsiblefor some scene-stealing: Fast-talking Spaniard Antonio Banderas. Really? Doyou think so? When I saw the movie, the character that made me laugh themost was donkey, says a modest Banderas, laughingly. But the actor does getthe most laughs in his unique take as Puss 'n' Boots, who begins as anassassin-for-hire and ends up joining Shrek and Donkey on an adventure tosave Princess Fiona from marrying a dastardly Prince Charming [RupertEverett]. In naturally high spirits as we chat in a Beverly Hills hotel,Banderas says that he didn't quite discover his hidden feline.
At the beginning, when I first got on this film two years ago, they said to me thatthe guy was thought to be French, kind of a D'Artagnan, from ThreeMusketeers but obviously, once I jumped in there with my accent, he becameZorro, the actor recalls. The actor's Zorro character became a template forhis purring feline, and Banderas recalls being surprised that he was able toinject as much of his own input as was allowed. . I didn't know that themovie is so related to the actors. I thought it was going to be more aprocess like just repeat this line until the line got totally perfect. Iprobably did because it's so technologically based that I thought it wasgoing to be almost like being in a tube without any kind of creativity butit was not like that at all.
One wonders whether Banderas' attraction to Shrek 2 was based on an innatedesire to make a film for his daughter, 8-year Stella. No, actually. I haveto say that I am a fanatic of Shrek 1. My daughter may have seen the movietwo times but I saw it like six. I just love it and thought it was beautiful But I wouldn't base my whole entire career in my daughter. I mean, threeSpy Kids, now this cat, it would be kind of weird, Banderas says laughingly Two years after first laying down his voice tracks and having seen thefinal Shrek, Banderas says he was surprised by the final film. Whatsurprised me the most is that we were working in solitude and didn't haveother actors working with us. Even when I sung La Vida Loca, I sung my parttotally independently of Eddie, so it is nice just to see it all together.Not is the animation fabulous, but just the interaction among all the actors sometimes even stepping on the lines of each other is something that wedidn't do when we were recording it. How they edit it, was masterful.
Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas, who was born and grew up in the Spanishcity of Malaga, says that he, too, was brought up on some of the classicfairy tales that inspired the Shrek films. In Spain, Puss in Boots iscalled El Gato Con Botas and he's a very, very famous character for kids.Many of the characters that appear in the movie are international fairytales in Spain which helps the movie because everybody recognizes thosecharacters. If there is a word that defines this type of movie, and not justthe second one, even the first one, is wit.
Banderas may not have made Shrek to appease his daughter, but fatherhood isenabling the 44-year old actor just to work in a totally different way, hesays. Since October, I rejected a bunch of movies and I've been basicallywriting and preparing things that I would like to do in the future.Banderas adds that he yearns to direct, but not in Hollywood, but in hisnative Spain. I bought the rights of a novel in Spain and am right now inthe process of putting it together. Banderas says that he has reached apoint in his life when it is important to return to Spain and his roots. It is just enough time for me to be out of the country and there are thepossibilities of going back as a director and also Pedro Almodóvar and Ihave been in discussions for a year and a half now, of doing a movie that'san adaptation of a French novel.
It's been 15 years since Banderas and Almodovar last worked together [on Tieme Up, Tie me Down], and 13 years since shooting his last all-Spanish film.Returning with an Almodovar film, says Banderas, may prove to be verydaunting. I'm pretty scared actually to go back to Pedro, because he's atough director and not an easy guy. He's very creative, but because he's theleader of the whole bunch and controls practically everything fromcinematography to costumes and makeup, he is one of the directors thatactually doesn't allow you to create very much. In fact, I remember thetimes that I was working with him, I used to say, 'I have an idea', He'd say 'No, no, you don't have ideas. I have the ideas. You just come here veryfresh in the morning, very happy and I will direct you.' But when you have adirector that has the talent that he has, you immediately jump into that potand you don't care. If a director that I don't trust comes without a story,I will say no way. If you want to do it like that, I'll go home and then Iwant to have my input. But if it's Pedro Almodovar, I'll allow him to do it.
But before returning to where it all began, Banderas is finally set to starin the long-awaited Zorro 2, which he confirms will begin shooting on July26. There's no Hopkins, but Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose Hollywood career wastruly cemented with the first Zorro, is back, as is original director MartinCampbell. Last night I had dinner with Martin and they're putting togetherthe whole thing now. But it's green lit, we are going, and on the 26th ofJuly, principal photography starts. Comparing the sequel to its predecessor Banderas says the new film is a little bit more mature. It still keeps theadventure feeling and it keeps us with a hero, which I think is fundamentalfor Zorro. But this one is more based on jealousy and concepts that are morefor us than for kids.
SHREK 2 OPENS IN JUNE