9 Milestones in the Evolution of Antonio Banderas

In this weekend's Puss in Boots, Antonio Banderas voices the swashbuckling title cat -- a peripheral Shrek character who became so popular that he earned his own $130 million DreamWorks prequel. So just how did Antonio Banderas transform himself from Madonna's sexual prey in Truth or Dare to a sword-wielding predator in both live-action and animated formats?

You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. As such, let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of Antonio Banderas.

Labyrinth of Passion (1982)

After an injury curbed his dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, a teenage Banderas enrolled in drama classes in Spain and started performing onstage. It was during a theatre production that the young actor caught the eye of future auteur Pedro Almodóvar, who cast the 22-year-old actor in his second film (and Banderas's first) Laberinto de Pasiones. The Madrid-set screwball comedy features the up-and-comer as a gay terrorist who uses his enhanced sense of smell to track down a Prince with whom he had fallen in love.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)

After three more collaborations with Almodóvar -- in Law of Desire, Matador and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- Banderas joined the filmmaker again for the controversial ¡Átame! that would give Banderas his first international exposure. The actor stars as a recently-released psychiatric patient who kidnaps a porn actress (Victoria Abril) in order to make her fall in love with him. Although the film was a success with critics and viewers in Spain, its release in the United States was fraught with controversy and initially garnered an X rating for scenes involving sex, urination and the main female character masturbating with a scuba diver toy.

Truth or Dare (1991)

After boosting his international profile with the racy Tie Me Up!, Madonna introduced Banderas to the world, quite literally, in her documentary Truth or Dare. Via voiceover, the pop icon tells her audience, "Antonio Banderas is this Spanish actor that I've had a crush on for two years. He's been in all of Pedro Almodóvar's movies. I love Pedro's movies. I've seen every movie that Antonio has ever done. I have to say he is one of the few actors that I was really dying to meet." Formal American introduction: Check!

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  • DocPlum says:

    Great compilation. I've been madly in love with Antonio since Desperado. I even went back and watched the original version of that movie made by Rodriguez (I don't remember the name, off-hand - the two side-kicks were the same in both movies). I've seen just about every movie Banderas has been in (some of which weren't mentioned here); but I've always thought for a guy who seems VERY sexy, he wasn't employed as a really romantic action hero very well (except in Desperado). After Desperado he was criticized by a lot of American movie people, who - it seemed to me - were just jealous, but my feeling is that he paid too much attention to the negative remarks. He shouldn't have.

  • Yojimbo says:

    I think I may be the only person in the world who loves Crazy in Alabama. Melanie is super cute in it, the humour is dark, the kids are kid-like and not Hollywood bots.