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Real Name: Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas
Birthday: August 10, 1960
Place of Birth: Malaga, Spain
Education: School of Dramatic Art

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Biography, Filmography And Pictures:

A great actor with movie idol appeal, Antonio Banderas worked his way to a worldwide following with his cunning portrayal of Latin hunks in the films of Pedro Almodovar. Born on August 10, 1960 in Malaga, Spain, Banderas set out to be a skilled soccer player. But when a foot injury diverted his plans, he turned his attention to the theater, finishing his studies at Malaga's School of Dramatic Art before starting on a six year run with the prominent National Theater of Spain, where he quickly caught the attention of Almodovar. He made his feature debut as a bumbling terrorist with an creepy sense of smell in the director's "Labyrinth of Passion" (1982), a simple and always eccentric sex charade populated with transvestites, punk rockers and sex addicts. Even more successful was their second partnership, "Matador" (1986), which saw the actor play a socially withdrawn student of bullfighting who admits to the police not only his attempted rape of his teacher's girlfriend, but also to a series of killings he did not commit.

Banderas' fame rose with Almodovar's, and the critical actor showed little worry for his image when he boldly portrayed his first gay character in the director's "Law of Desire" (1987), accepting the passionate kiss of another man as just another day at the office. As a heterosexual who finds homosexual love for the first time, he was a madman whose excessive control issues leads first to murder, then suicide. 

Almodovar's next two pictures introduced the enchanting, icon to American viewers and critics. His geek-like roles were put on hold to star in "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988), but the actor was center stage in "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990) as Ricky, the charming mental patient who kidnaps, ties-up and seduces a drug addicted pornography actor. Though it still had Almodovar's erratic black humor, this film replaced the director's sophomoric, rowdy laughter with a tortured romantic heterosexual longing and provided a eye-catching showcase for the actors' helpless manliness.

Despite knowing very little English, Antonio pulled out of Almodovar's "High Heels" (1991) to make his Hollywood debut in "The Mambo Kings" (1992), playing a touching Cuban trumpeter who comes to America in the 1950s. But audiences came away feeling he had no idea what he was saying. His screen aura was indisputable, and the commercial crash served as a launch pad to supporting roles in major productions. 

In "Philadelphia" (1993), he was cast as Tom Hanks thoughtful boyfriend, but in noticeable contrast to the fueled gay love scenes he'd shot with Almodovar, scenes of soft porn passion did not make the final movie. That year's "The House of the Spirits,” directed by Billie August, featured the thespian as a revolutionary falling in love with both Glenn Close and Winona Ryder, but "Interview with a Vampire" (1994) gave him better talent building exposure working with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as vampire Armand, a former lover of Cruise and the sexiest vampire of the highly advertised film.

Next, Antonio worked on six different projects and starred in his first leading role in the movie "Desperado.” Though he did well as the high-flying cowboy in the director's variation of the film "El Mariachi" (1992), the sexual attraction between the actor and his female lead Salma Hayek did not provide enough romantic fire to make up for the bad plot. He also appeared in the stinker film "Four Rooms,” playing Mia Farrow's love interest in "Miami Rhapsody,” worked alongside Sylvester Stallone as one of the killers, played the shadowy foreigner who sweeps into Rebecca De Mornay's life in "Never Talk to Strangers" and played next to his future wife Melanie Griffith in "Two Much.” Overexposed, the actor knew he could not continue to accept every movie offered him, and his relationship with Griffith gave him his first exposure to the notorious Hollywood paparazzi and media spotlight, while the critics wrote about him as a home wrecker and his new love interest as a ding-bat.

Antonio got his life back on track by working on the film version of the stage musical "Evita" (1996). Partnered with Madonna (as Eva Peron), whose public fawning after him in "Truth or Dare" (1991) had been a help to his career, he showed an easy charisma and a surprisingly agile singing voice, shooting to the head of the class and considered for "The Phantom of the Opera". Choosing quality over quantity, he returned to the movies after a three year vacation as the masked avenger in "The Mask of Zorro" (1998), working with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Tyrone Power as the first Latino ever to play the Mexican buccaneer.

He also did well with his directorial debut, "Crazy in Alabama" (starring Griffith), though its dark comedy subject matter appealed more to art house tastes, and he was appealing as the Arab lead in the movie "The Thirteenth Warrior" (1999), which, though very bloody, fell short of true adventure quality. He then starred with Woody Harrelson as boxing opponents in "Play It to the Bone" (2000). 

He then portrayed a retired secret agent who had to rely on his children to rescue him when he is captured by bad guys in the kid friendly "Spy Kids" (2001), directed by longtime friend Robert Rodriguez. His extraordinary talent was completely wasted in "Original Sin" (2001), a romantic adaptation of the novel "Waltz into Darkness" about a man who orders a mail order wife and then becomes sexually infatuated with her.

In 2002, Banderas again worked with the cast and crew of "Spy Kids" to film "Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams". In "Spy Kids 2,” the Cortez children set out to save the world from a genetic scientist and enemy spy kid, and as predicted was a strong performer financially at the box office. He was then seen in director Brian de Palma adventure "Femme Fatale" (2002), which also starred Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, a movie that gained some bad press but was also critiqued as brilliant work in some papers. 

The actor then resurfaced for "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" (2003) and reprised his role as El Maiachi for Rodriguez's successful sequel "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" (2003). Modifying his persona as a sexy, sturdy buccaneer, he next lent his voice talent for the animated sequel "Shrek 2" (2004) with Mike Myers. He played a more serious role in "Imagining Argentina" (2004), as an Argentine writer in Buenos Aires who has a supernatural powers to see what will happen to people's loved ones when he looks into their faces, and must turn this capability inward when his radical columnist wife (Emma Thompson) goes missing.

Banderas again played the role as the masked avenger in "The Legend of Zorro" (2005), and is pressured to abandon his swaggering ways and live a normal life or push away his wife and children. The film was not even close to the quality of the first movie, in terms of adventures and box office financial success. 

In “Take the Lead” (2006), he faced the true story of ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine, who gave his time to teach a group of inner city underprivileged children how to dance. Jeered at first, Dulaine finally gains their trust with steadfast devotion and commitment, rousing the class to mix classic ballroom dancing with new age dance and partake in a prominent city-wide dance competition. Meanwhile, he revived Puss-in-Boots for the continuing adventures of the massive green ogre (Mike Myers) and his varied band of friends in “Shrek the Third” (2007).

In 2008, Antonio starred in the romantic comedy "My Mom's New Boyfriend" (2008) with Meg Ryan, about a young federal agent who is assigned to a new case: spy on his mother and her new lover, both suspects in an art theft ring. Next was the Richard Eyre dramatic thriller "The Other Man" (2008) which is the story of a husband who suspects his wife of adultery, and sets out to track down the other man in her life. He ended 2008 with the Mimi Leder Independent crime drama starring Morgan Freeman, "The Code", about a veteran thief who recruits a younger crook to help him pull off one final job in order to repay his debt to the Russian mob.

The talented performer has several projects in post-production with tentative release dates of (2009-2010). They include the gritty crime thriller "Sin City 2" starring Johnny Depp and Jessica Alba, about the dark bowels of Sin City, where a man plans to have his vengeance against the woman who betrayed him, Ava Lord, while Nancy is trying to cope with Hartigan's death. Banderas is also scheduled to lend his voice to the latest Shrek series film, "Shrek Goes Fourth" about the further adventures of the giant green ogre, Shrek, living in the land of Far, Far Away and featuring veteran "Shrek" voices Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. Also slated for 2010 is the animated comedy adventure "Puss In Boots" with him voicing the lead role of this "Shrek" spin-off about the sword fighting cat (and one-time nemesis of Shrek) peels off on his own adventure.

 

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