Antonio Banderas

On this date in 1960, actor-director José Antonio Domínguez Banderas was born in Málaga, Spain, to José Domínguez Prieto, a police officer, and Ana Banderas Gallego, a teacher. He attended Catholic school as a child. After completing his studies at Malaga’s School of Dramatic Art, he joined the National Theater of Spain and caught the eye of director Pedro Almodóvar and had his 1982 film debut in “Labyrinth of Passion.”

He then made several more movies with Almodóvar, including his breakthrough role in 1990’s controversial “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” as a mental patient who kidnaps a porn star played by Victoria Abril. In 1991 he was introduced to Hollywood in the pseudo-documentary “Madonna: Truth or Dare,” which led to his critically praised 1992 performance as a struggling musician in “The Mambo Kings.”

Hollywood kept Banderas incredibly busy in the 1990s. He appeared in six movies in 1995 alone. He married actress Melanie Griffith in 1996 after ending his nine-year union with Ana Leza. He and Griffith divorced in 2015 after having a daughter, Stella, in 1996. Banderas then began a relationship with Nicole Kimpel, a Dutch investment banker 20 years his junior. As of this writing in 2021, they live in Spain.

His debut as a director was in “Crazy in Alabama (1999), starring Griffith. He made his eighth film with Almodóvar in 2019, “Dolor y gloria” (Pain and Glory). It earned him the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor along with Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. He was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for “Nine” and for Golden Globe Awards for “The Mask of Zorro” (1998) and “Evita” (1996).

Asked in 2019 about his relationship with the Catholic Church, he said: “I’m not a practicing Catholic, but I am culturally Catholic. I participate in some ceremonies of my hometown, but they are pretty popular. The Holy Week in Málaga, I participate in that. But that is different. This is a way to connect with the transcendental and the spiritual world without people in the middle.” (GQ magazine, Oct. 1, 2019)

In 2017 he had a heart attack which he later said was “one of the best things that ever happened in my life,” adding, “Now, there is only space for truth and nothing else. So you start searching for it: What is my truth? What am I? What is my role in life?” (USA Today. Oct. 1, 2019)

Banderas confirmed on his 60th birthday in 2020 that he had tested positive for COVID-19. 

PHOTO: Banderas in 2009 at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic; photo by Petr Novák, Wikipedia, under CC 3.0.

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