Antonio Banderas recalls Steven Spielberg’s prescient words on the set of the 1998 blockbuster

Photo: Everett Collection, Getty Images

The Mask of Zorro made Antonio Banderas an international star. (Photo: Everett Collection, Getty Images)

To paraphrase the villainous Don Rafael Montero, it wasn’t just a role, damn it. It was Zoro.

Play the legendary sword-fighting vigilante in the 1998s The Mask of Zorro was deeply impactful for star Antonio Banderas, the 62-year-old Spanish actor told us in a recent interview.

“It was very important because my career up until then was [mostly] European films, especially all the work I did with Pedro Almódovar,” Banderas explained, referring to the five films he had made so far with fellow Spaniard and famous arthouse author. , from 1982. maze of passion to 1989 Tie me Up! Tie me up! Banderas also got noticed for American films philadelphia cream (1993), Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Desperado (1995), but Zorro made him a leading man in movie theaters around the world.

Almódovar’s films “very much defined my career”, he said. “And suddenly I entered a completely different universe, a universe of action, a universe of international films that went around the world. It was incredible…it was a huge success.

Banderas played Alejandro Murrieta, a villain who becomes the protege and successor to the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins in a whitewashed role that wouldn’t fly today), as the two seek revenge of Las Californias’ corrupt governor, Montero (Stuart Wilson, same) – and Murrieta falls in love with de la Vega’s daughter, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and released 25 years ago on July 17, 1998, the swashbuckling adventure grossed $94 million in the US and $250 million in dollars in the world.

Today, Banderas recalls a specific on-set conversation with Spielberg that turned out to be prescient.

“Steven Spielberg once said to me during filming, ‘It’s probably going to be one of the last westerns shot the way westerns were shot back then, with real scenes with real horses, where everything is real, [real] sword fight, no CGI. All was [practical].

“And he said, ‘But things are going to change. they will change and they will change quickly. And so you should be proud of this movie. And I am, probably even more now than when I did. I don’t know if I was absolutely aware when I was doing Zorro that was going to have an impact. The impact it has had, and especially after 25 years. … It was a very beautiful adventure film with a lot of ingredients that made it shine in a very beautiful way. I only have good memories.”

THE LEGEND OF ZORRO, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas, 2005, (c) Columbia/courtesy Everett Col

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas in 2005 The Legend of Zorro. (Photo: Colombia courtesy Everett Collection)

Banderas reprized the role in 2005 The Legend of Zorro. And while the sequel wasn’t as successful as the first film, the actor, who suffered a heart attack in 2017, says there have been talks of possibly making a third entry.

“I’ve had people approach me with different ideas. Obviously, if I make another film now, I would play the [mentor] character that Anthony Hopkins did in the first version, i [would] to be the character who passes the torch to the new Zorro, which would be great just to do that,” said Banderas, who drew criticism late last year for suggesting that the British Spider Man actor Tom Holland as someone he would like to pass the mask on to.

“But you know, if it comes, great. If not, you know, the other two are here forever.

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