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Ghost Canyon

Antonio Banderas Antonio Banderas
'Spy Kids: 003.5'

Actor, born August 10, 1960 in Málaga, Spain, to a State Department worker and a teacher, Antonio Banderas has one younger brother, Francisco. At age 14, Banderas began acting with a small theater company in Málaga, although his real dream was to play professional soccer. After breaking his foot, he turned to the stage as his primary interest, studying at the School of Dramatic Art in Málaga. At 19 in 1981, Banderas moved to Madrid and joined the ensemble of the National Theater of Spain.

Banderas made numerous Spanish-language films starting in 1982 and was a favorite of filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, but it wasn't until 'The Mambo Kings' (1992) that Banderas made his U.S. film debut -- although many American women first noticed his sensual Latin good looks in the U.S. run of Almodóvar's 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' (1988) and 'Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!' (1990). Because Banderas did not speak English, his dialogue for 'The Mambo Kings' was taught to him phonetically.

Often compared with Rudolph Valentino for his Latin looks and heavy accent, Banderas is considered one of Hollywood's most attractive leading men. His more notable film roles have included a turn in 'Interview With the Vampire' (1994), a sensitive performance as the lover of Tom Hanks' AIDS-stricken lawyer in 'Philadelphia' (1993), and an impressive singing performance as Ché, the voice of the people, in 'Evita' (1996) costarring the pop goddess Madonna in the title role, the swashbuckling hit 'The Mask of Zorro' (1998) with Anthony Hopkins, 'The 13th Warrior,' 'Play it to the Bone,' 'Spy Kids' and 'Original Sin' (2001) starring opposite Angelina Jolie.

What do you enjoy about making the "Spy Kids" films ? "What I love about this idea is that it isn't based on any cartoon character we already know or on any literature we already know. It's all coming from the mind of a person, and so it's fresh and new. That's what we can offer to kids today. I can tell you my children enjoy it very much. If other families feel the same, then we're fine, we're doing a good thing."

How did you know to link up with Robert Rodriguez and work with him so much ? "That's the secret - we were both nobodies when we found each other 12 years ago. And I found this person who was full of ideas, full of dreams, very pragmatic, the capacity to make things happen - a very courageous man with no fears and a very personal style. If you see "Spy Kids" and if you see "Desperado", you will find one thing in common - it's his way of telling a story which is different. Let's face it, this movie is for Daryl [Sabara] and Alexa [Vega]. They are the stars of this movie. I didn't go to Austin, Texas, thinking that I am going to receive an Academy Award or that I am doing Shakespeare! It was fun, it was just a way to have some quality time with my dear friend Robert Rodriguez - and I am looking for a limited glory out of it!"

Did you think "Spy Kids" would be so successful ? "I didn't expect this so much. It's pretty surreal. It's a little bit gothic. It's not a typical kids' movie. It's kind of a different way to tell a story, a different way to understand fantasies. We didn't think it would connect so well with audiences, so we consider this sequel almost like an award given to us by kids."

Interviewed by Thorne Cawlec for Exclusive Magazine

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