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Just turned 50, the Malaga actor and director is filming once again with Pedro Almodóvar
This is the moment Spanish film fans have been anxiously waiting for. In Santiago de Compostela, filming has now begun of ‘La piel que habito’, the sixth film which Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas have made together, and 21 years after ‘Átame’. Antonio Banderas gave us this interview at his home in Marbella, hours before going to Galicia to start filming.
How do you feel as you’re about to begin a new film with Almodóvar?
A bit emotional, a bit afraid. On one hand, this is my return to Spanish cinema but it is also a starting point for the future. It’s like jumping into the unknown once again.
What can you tell me about the new film, which Almodóvar has defined as being “like a horror story without screams or frights”?
Very little, because I’m not allowed to. Pedro is trying something different. I believe this film will generate controversy because it deals with very real things, but it will show what all his films show: passion, the relationship between human beings in situations at the limit… and in any case, the film has the deep personality of Pedro Almodóvar. Working with Pedro is something completely different to anything else I have done in my life, before and after America.
Has there been a sense of ‘déjà vu’ in working together again?
Yes. Sometimes it’s as if the time has not passed. Sometimes, just by glancing at each other we know instinctively what we want and what each other is thinking.
The film has already raised huge expectations!
I don’t want to think about it. It fills me with joy but it worries me. I’m going to be led by my intuition and by Pedro. I want to live the experience bit by bit.
How have the rehearsals been during these past weeks?
It’s amazing: I came to rehearsals with my 21 years of baggage and in just three days he had encompassed me in his world. It only took 72 hours to recycle me! It’s like he says, “This is my way of telling a story and I want you inside it”. And that’s where I am.
I see you are very excited…
I’m as excited as can be. I have never lost the excitement of telling stories. On the contrary, the excitement increases and as the years pass you say, “Haven’t I told this one? Oh, well I must do so…”. And from there I moved into directing. When you are a director you try to create a world. You become a bit of a virtual god.
Where does Hollywood stand, these days?
Hollywood isn’t a place, it’s an idea. And nowadays more than ever. Those of us who bear the ‘stamp of Hollywood’ can work anywhere in the world just because of that. Pedro Almodóvar can, too, because of his two Oscars. Personally, I have to add that Hollywood has given me almost everything: it has allowed me to work with the best professionals to be found in the world of film and even theatre… It has also allowed me to reach a level of financial independence which permits me to do whatever I like from the point of view of creativity.
Let’s talk about your projects…
When I finish with Almodóvar I’m going to Tunisia to start a new film, a French production with Jean-Jacques Annaud. It’s called ‘Black Thirst’, and I’m looking forward to it, I love the script. It’s a type of parable about the birth of Saudi Arabia and the significance of the discovery of oil. After that I’m coming back to Malaga to direct myself in a film and then I will spend a year on Broadway in ‘Zorba the Greek’, which for me is like a dream come true.
And where does Boabdil (the last king of Granada) fit in?
Boabdil is a film you either have to do really well or not at all. It will happen when I have to hand all the elements which permit me to direct the story in the way I want to, because I’m passionate about it. If I can’t do it properly then I won’t do it, and I won’t mind. I won’t lose any sleep over it. What would keep me awake at night would be to make a bad film.
You have just celebrated your 50th birthday. How do you see yourself?
Physically, better than I expected. Better than when I was 20, in fact. Professionally, I have reached this age with the sensation that I still haven’t done the one thing which will make me say “people will remember me for this”.
Where do you think you will be in ten years? Some people believe you’ll be involved in politics… maybe as Mayor of Malaga or something?
Nothing would make me get involved in politics! You need a tremendous public vocation and you need to be strong. The knives are very sharp in politics. I see myself more involved in directing, in the theatre, working in film with things which interest me a great deal. The ideal would be to live closer to Spain, to Malaga: the plan involves New York but Melanie isn’t keen. I’ll convince her in the end. I hope so, anyway.
What role does Melanie play in your life?
She plays an essential part. We have been together for nearly 16 years and she is my stability, my family, my emotional and personal calm. All relationships have their ups and downs, but I can tell you, my marriage has never been in danger and that is the absolute truth.
Stability must be very difficult in your profession.
It’s very difficult, because this profession makes any sort of normal life difficult. You spend a lot of time in hotels, on planes, away from home, meeting different people with different stories. It’s not a profession which helps stability, definitely. That has to come from within, and you achieve it as the years go by and with the right person, who in my case is Melanie. A stable relationship helps your personal life and, therefore, your professional life too.
What would you erase from your own history?
I would erase anything I have done which, unintentionally, may have hurt other people. I have never meant to hurt anyone. Nevertheless, I would never stop being honest even though I may know consciously that my honesty might hurt somebody else.
Finally, can you sum up your way of seeing life?
I try to use what life has given me, to make things better. I love totally those who I feel love me, I embrace life, I try to eliminate fear and I try to be fair. I think we should live life with optimism and happiness and help people if we can.
source: sur in english
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