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Antonio Banderas shares his favorite memory with Salma Hayek: ‘Almost took me to tears’

Who knew an interview about Puss in Boots could get so deep?

Antonio Banderas is back with Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. The hilarious, heartwarming, and beautiful animated film is out December 21st and stars Banderas as Puss in Boots, Salma Hayek as Kitty Soft Paws, Harvey Guillen as Perro, Florence Pugh as Goldilocks and more. HOLA! Had the opportunity to talk to Banderas about the film, for a touching interview where he shared his favorite memory with Hayek, how his heart attack changed his outlook on life, his fears, legacy, and more.

I’m probably humble because I have a certain level of insecurity.

Eleven years ago you said Puss in Boots was a ‘supporting actor and now he’s a star.’ Do you remember the moment you realized you were a star?

Not really. Not in my case. I guess it depends on what career, you may have a big success very early in your career, extraordinary success, and then you realize, ‘oh, something’s happening’ and it’s an impact. But in my particular case, it wasn’t like that. It was very progressive. I started with theater. I mean, I’m talking about 50 years ago, right? And then I started with little characters in movies, and it was something that little by little was growing, not suddenly. So it came to me in a much more natural way. And I had time to see the dangers that surround celebrities and being famous and all the parallel lives that exist around actors. Me, I said to myself very early in my career, ‘what am I here for?’ I’m here for what happens between action and cut. I’m here for what happens from the moment the curtain goes up and the curtain goes down. That’s my life. Everything else that is happening around you, of course, you have to play with it in the best possible way. But the important thing is the other stuff. So I grew into being a star very little by little.

You’re very humble. You know Puss can be a little vain, a little egotistical. You were called the ‘Latin lover,’ and you were on all the lists of the 25, 50 most beautiful people. But you’ve always been very, very humble, which is nice to see.

I don’t know, I’m probably humble because I have a certain level of insecurity, you know? If I had nine lives, probably, I wouldn’t be that humble, but I have one. So, you know, I have to be careful with what I say, with what I do, because I’ve seen a lot of idiots, during my life doing a lot of things that weren’t right. And so I don’t want to be one of those. I want to be more centered in believing that my life starts every day. And you know, success is something that comes and goes. So you have to be very alert and very persistent every day you’re building whatever you are, every day.

Puss feels fear for the first time in his life, what are some things you’ve been afraid of throughout your life?

Some of those things I’m still afraid of it. I’m afraid of death. I’m afraid of pain. I’m afraid of losing people that I love. Those are the things that get me. I’m also very afraid of injustice. People suffering for things that they don’t deserve to suffer for. That gives me terror, and panic to see a situation of injustice. It must be very hard to be accused of something you didn’t do. That seems like a terrible thing to me. Probably almost as much as death.

A theme in this film is mortality, losing your passion. It made me think about my mortality, my pets, and my family, it got emotional. How did this story affect you when you were making it?

When I was doing it, it didn’t affect me that much actually because I was compartmentalizing the movie. I was concentrated on this scene and what’s happening there, and then the next one and blah, blah, blah. So when I saw the movie for the first time, they sent it to a theater in Malaga for me, so I saw it on a big screen, and then it got me. I said, ‘oh my god.’ There are a number of scenes in the movie that actually caught me off guard as if I actually didn’t really do it. But it really surprised me the way it was edited and the music that was in there, and how there were very specific pauses and rhythm that gave the movie something very electric, and very beautiful, and very emotional.

It hit me a couple of times. It was beautiful. And we see that moment when Puss has a near-death experience. I mean, his life literally flashes before his eyes. And you’ve opened up before about how you suffered a heart attack in 2017. How did that experience change your outlook on life?

Completely. After my heart attack, it was almost like an epiphany, a revelation that I was not actually doing the things that I wanted to do. I was living more the life of others and the projections that they had over me, what they wanted me to be, and I was just playing the game. And at that particular moment, I said, ‘no, this is not right. I have to live my life.’ And I bought a theater. So I went off to do exactly what I wanted to do, and in the last five years of my life, that’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m very happy.

From over 100 films, to your theater, to being a dad, you have an incredible story. Puss is obsessed with his legacy, his legend. What do you hope your legacy is?

I don’t know. I don’t wanna be a legend. No, I want to do things that are coherent, and reasonable. Treat people nicely as they deserve to be treated, and practice what I love, which is an art, you know, the art of telling stories, and that allows me to reflect and reflect in front of other people. And I think- I do really do seriously believe that art makes the world better. And movies make the world better, and theater and literature and painting and poetry, those things are teaching us what we can do, what we can be individually and collectively.

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish©Universal
Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas’ characters

It’s always exciting seeing you and Salma Hayek in a film together. Everyone’s obsessed with all your interviews and everything. Do you have a favorite memory with her that you can share?

I have many.

The one you know you’ll never forget.

The day I did the screen test with her- I was already in the movie Desperado, but she wasn’t, and I won’t say names, but there were very famous actresses that came to do that audition. And I remember how nervous she was. I remember that I got a scene with her, and I was holding her, and she put her hand on my shoulder. She was shaking so hard. That almost took me to tears, I could feel it in my shoulder. I remember that. That was a long time ago. She’s a very smart woman. Life gives us all cards, and with the cards that she received, she played the best game she could play.

Salma Hayek And Antonio Banderas In 'Desperado'©GettyImages

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