Antonio Banderas: A Gift from Malaga

As the voice of Puss in Boots in the series of Shrek films, Antonio Banderas’ accent is becoming just as recognisable as his easily identifiable face.

Hailing from the Spanish city of Malaga, Banderas started his acting career in Spanish films and TV shows in 1982. It wasn’t until 1993 that he made his first appearance in a major English-spoken film – The House of Spirits, alongside Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons and Winona Ryder.

Banderas originally wanted to become a professional footballer but an injury when he was 14 put paid to those dreams, but his heart was set on stardom and aged 19 he started working in Spanish theatre productions; however, it’s his career in Hollywood that has put him on the celebrity map.

After The House of Spirits, Banderas appeared in the Oscar-winning Philadelphia. He went on to play the lead role in Robert Rodriguez’ Desperado alongside Salma Hayek. As a precursor for his part in Shrek, Banderas narrated Evita – starring Madonna, Jimmy Nail and Andrea Corr – before starring in the 1998 version of The Mask of Zorro. He would later play the lead role in The Legend of Zorro opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In 2001 he again worked with director Rodriguez, appearing in the children’s action adventure film Spy Kids, as well as being cast in the sequels.

By now, Banderas’ name was known the world over and his appearance in Imagining Argentina alongside Kuno Becker would lead to a high profile name-drop. When Becker went on to play Santiago Munez in the 2005 film Goal!, the player was eventually accepted into the Newcastle ranks because the sister of Hughie McGowan – villain of the squad – fancied Munez, which McGowan explained by saying “she thinks you look like Antonio Banderas”.

Banderas has also tried his hand at directing with two films to his credit – 1999’s Crazy in Alabama and the more recent El camino de los ingleses (Summer Rain in English speaking countries) in which he cast his wife, Melanie Griffiths, and their daughter Stella del Carmen Banderas.

Although based in Hollywood, Banderas still spends a lot of time in his home country taking flights to Malaga to see his family and childhood friends.

As well as visiting Malaga, Banderas also stops off in northern Spain where he owns a vineyard producing red and rose wines under the company name Anta Banderas – although it is always his acting that people will remember Banderas for, no matter how versatile his career becomes.

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