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Banderas Behind The Mask

Antonio Banderas is riding his way back to the big screen in the new adventure "The Legend Of Zorro."

"Nobody will believe the feats I have done in the movie," Antonio Banderas told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "But it's not important. What is important is the character."

As in most of his action roles, Banderas insisted on doing many of his own stunts.

"There is a relative risk when you do movies like this," Banderas said. "Not so much with the horse. It was in the sword fighting, especially when you're working with 10 guys, sword fighting them at the same time. At 6 in the morning, people are sleeping in the corners of the stage and you're Zorro.

"But at the end, we came out alive. But what matters is the show is very beautiful. I think families will have a great time with the movie."

"The Legend Of Zorro" is set several years after the conclusion of the previous adventure, and there are a few reasons why it took seven years for the sequel.

"They actually want to be honest and have the possibility of doing something in the same parameters of quality that we did the first one," Banderas said. "To put everybody in front of the camera and behind the camera that was in the first one was not an easy thing. Plus, now the family is 10 years older, and we have a whole different approach to the character."

Alejandro (Banderas) and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are married and have a 10-year-old son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). Though Alejandro continues to don the mask of Zorro to protect the poor and oppressed residents of the California territory from the greed of the overlords, he is torn between his duty and his desire for a more normal life.

"In a way, she's having problems," Banderas said. "It happens sometimes. The movie is very contemporary, and we have the possibility of doing a lot of comedy with it."

It was his role as Zorro that allowed Banderas to make his mark on film audiences, becoming an international superstar in 1998. Now he has his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"That was actually a beautiful thing," he said. "It was beautiful for me and unbelievable for my father and my mother."

So, what's next for the star?

"I am in the production of my second movie as a director, a Spanish production with Spanish actors ("El Camino de los Ingleses"). Everything in Spanish, which helps a little bit," Banderas said. "I'm going to be there April-March, and then back here to make a couple of movies and probably come to New York, come to Broadway again."

Click on page 2 to track his career.
Fast Facts On Antonio Banderas

  • Born Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas in Malaga, Spain, Aug. 10, 1960.
  • Banderas began his career working with an independent theater company in his home town of Malaga at age 14, having abandoned dreams of playing professional soccer after breaking his foot. He helped form the theater troupe and traveled around southern Spain in an old truck, putting on street productions.
  • In 1980, he moved to Madrid; worked as a waiter and department store clerk while trying to get acting jobs.
  • Banderas worked from 1981-1986 as an ensemble member of Spain's National Theater.
  • The stage actor made his feature film debut, "Labyrinth of Passion," in 1982 — his first collaboration with Pedro Almodovar.
  • Banderas acted in Carlos Saura's "Los Zancos/The Stilts" in 1984.
  • The actor teamed again with Almodovar for "Matador."
  • Third film with Almodovar, "Law of Desire," cast him as a heterosexual discovering homosexual love in 1987.
  • In 1988, Banderas co-starred in Almodovar's "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," starring Maura. His then-wife, Ana Leza, was also in cast.
  • Appeared as himself in Madonna's tour documentary "Truth or Dare" in 1991. The "Material Girl" gave his career a big boost by publicly and unrequitedly lusting after him.
  • In 1992, Banderas acted and had to learn the entire script phonetically in first Hollywood film, Arne Glimcher's "The Mambo Kings."
  • In 1994, Banderas made a second movie with director Saura for "Outrage," played opposite Glenn Close and Winona Ryder in "The House of the Spirits," acted as Tom Hanks' lover in "Philadelphia."
  • In 1994, the actor portrayed sinister bloodsucker Armand in Neil Jordan's film adaptation of "Interview with the Vampire" and acted in "Of Love and Shadows," another picture adapted from a work by Allende.
  • 1995 gave Banderas his first leading role in a Hollywood film, Robert Rodriguez's "Desperado." That year he also co-starred with future wife Melanie Griffith in "Two Much."
  • Banderas played Che in the film musical "Evita," opposite Madonna in 1996.
  • In 1998, Banderas became an action hero when he starred alongside Anthony Hopkins in "The Mask of Zorro."
  • In 1999, Banderas made his feature directorial debut, "Crazy in Alabama," starring Griffith. He was also the Arab lead amidst Vikings in John McTiernan's "The Thirteenth Warrior."
  • In 2000, he starred with Woody Harrelson as rival boxers in Ron Shelton's "Play It to the Bone." The following year, he was a retired secret agent who must rely on his children to rescue him when he is caught by villains in the appealing "Spy Kids," directed by old pal Robert Rodriguez. Also in 2001, he did "Original Sin," a would-be steamy adaptation of the novel "Waltz into Darkness."
  • In 2002, Banderas reunited with the cast and crew of "Spy Kids" to film "Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams." And he was seen in director Brian de Palma visually arresting noir thriller "Femme Fatale," which also co-starred Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
  • In 2003, After a well-received stint on Broadway in "Nine," a musical inspired by Fellini's film "8 1/2" Banderas as a film director in the Fellini mold, the actor next returned to familiar territory for "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over," and reprised his role as El Mariachi for Rodriguez's successful threequel "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."
  • In 2004, tweaking his image as a sexy, macho swashbuckler, Banderas provided the voice of Puss In Boots in the animated film, "Shrek 2."
  • Banderas plans to return to the stage next spring, starring in a new musical, "Death Takes a Holiday."

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