I Would Follow Him to Hell
Antonio Banderas discusses working with Robert Rodriguez on Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Antonio Banderas is definitely riding high these days. After receiving a Tony nomination this past spring, his current run on Broadway on the Tony Award-winning Nine is coming to an end by the end of October, he scored another hit in theaters with ?Spy Kids 3D- Game Over?. That film has gone on to gross over $100M domestically.
Published on LatinoLA: September 11, 2003
I was lucky enough to meet and sit down with Spaniard actor to talk about his upcoming film "Once Upon A Time In Mexico", opening September 12. We spoke about this next collaboration with Robert Rodriguez the follow up to ?Desperado? and ?El Mariachi? . Here is what he to say:
KC: What?s the draw to playing the role?
Antonio: The character was the first leading character I received when I came to the States, and it?s also who?s behind the character, Robert Rodriguez. I?ve worked with him 6 times already and I feel comfortable with him, not only in the professional aspect but in the human aspect I am because he?s a friend. It?s a pleasure to go back and work on the Spy Kids films and Desperado follow-up. Whenever he needs me for a film, I will be there.
KC: What?s the worst part?
Antonio: The worst part is probably how physically and demanding it is. From 1994 to now, I started to get older and the bones start to hurt when you have to jump out of a window. That?s the worst part and the best part, like I said before, is finding out that you are working with friends. There isn?t so much explanation that you have to do in order to recognize each other when you have Robert Rodriguez there. I know what he wants. In fact we have been practicing this even from the beginning when we first did the movie. Sometimes he allowed me to direct some of the scenes because he didn?t have time. He needed to watch other scenes take place. There?s the confidence he has in me; especially now with the digital system that he?s using. It gives him the freedom to keep shooting.
KC: Do you think that Mexicans will complain about the way they are portrayed in the film?
Antonio: I don?t know, but it?s not all of Mexico that we are describing. It?s only a side of the country. This film is made with a lot of sense of humor and wit. There are other aspects of Mexico that?s in the film that?s beautiful like the architecture and some interesting people like my character for example.
KC: Are you up to doing more sequels to this film?
Antonio: Like I said before, with Robert Rodriguez, I would follow him to hell. I don?t care what part he offers me, I?m fine working for him, so I could do another film, but I don?t think he wants to do any more sequels to Desperado. I think this film finishes the cycle. But you never know. If we open up with $60 million dollars, someone will say to him, ?Please do another one!? I don?t know what?s going to happen but I think this is it.
KC: Do you think he will do a film with Johnny Depp based on his character in the film? How was working with him?
Antonio: With Johnny Depp?s character, I don?t know. Johnny?s a sweet man. I didn?t have that many scenes with him in the film. It was just one scene in a bar and the rest of the time we were communicating over the phone and stuff like that, so we didn?t have to work together so much but that day was excellent and we had a lot of fun. I like Johnny. Of his generation, he?s totally different from the rest of the actors. He?s made some beautiful choices on the screen that are different and special. I like him very much.
KC: How was working with Enrique Iglesias?
Antonio: It was good because he approached the work like anyone would when they are new and he did it with humbleness. He arrived there asking for help, and that is exactly what he received. Not only from Robert Rodriguez, but also from myself and anyone who could help him out with what he needed. Not everyone could do what he does, singing on stage in front of 70,000 people. That?s what he does. I would be humble as he is, asking everyone how you do that.
KC: There is a lot of violence in ?Once Upon a Time in Mexico?, offset by a lot of humor. What would you say to people who might feel shy or awkward in seeing this film, and may not stand for the amount of violence in it? What?s your feeling about this?
Antonio: I think the violence in the film is choreographic. It?s surrounded by a lot of sense of humor. I think movies where you don?t kill anybody are way more aggressive, more violent than this one is, and in the world that we are living in today, all you need to see violence is to put feeling for five minutes, right now probably. And if it?s not there, then throwing you from there (from my seat to the wall) would be unbelievable. I think Robert?s approach doesn?t hurt anybody. Obviously there are certain people and certain ages that shouldn?t be allowed to get into the movie theater, and that?s why the movie is PG-something. That?s why those ratings exist. I?d say we (Antonio and Robert) are not the kind of guys who thinks that movies bring violence. The proof is that in Julius Caesar?s time there were no movies and they were killing each other, so violence was already there, way before the movies.
KC: Did you do the stunts yourself in this film?
Antonio: Yeah. They had me just hanging there like a ?pi?ata? for three days. It was very funny because Selma Hayek was coming in from (doing) Frida and she was coming in with this aura of ?actress?, serious actress and Robert said to me, ?Look at her.? He hung her up and said, ?You look like a pi?ata?. She was insulting him all the time. ?You monster, look at what you are doing to me!? she would say. Robert would say, ?Stay there. That?s your position.? It was fun working with these guys again. But at the same time we wouldn?t get caught up with ourselves. We know we have to present this to audiences all around the world and try to be serious. It?s not like we were having a party. We worked very tough, but at the same to be surrounded with this type of friendships, it helps.
KC: Did you and Enrique talk about making music together?
Antonio: No. If I do something musically, I do it because I play the guitar. I have a studio in Los Angeles, but I don?t want to do something in terms of commercialism. I don?t want to make a big amount of money. I don?t want to become a Ricky Martin kind of thing. Besides, I don?t think I can. First of all, I am 43 years old already and the girls are interested in younger guys than me. Some of the stuff I have done is jazzy, not commercial. Enrique goes to another territory where it can sell so many records. If it (the music) can be applied to drama, to dramatic purpose, like musical theater, then yes, I would record an album, or if I do ?Evita?. But I?m not pursuing a musical career or anything like that.
KC: How would you comment to Mexicans who complain about you being a Spaniard playing a Mexican part?
Antonio: Anthony Quinn was a Mexican actor, very famous around the world. He wouldn?t have a career if he would have done this film years ago because he played a Russian pope, he played an Italian Estrada, he played Zorba the Greek, and he played an Eskimo. He played multicultural characters half of his career. The symbol of Georgia is Scarlet O?Hara and she was from London. The ultimate proof for me that I was right picking out this character was given to me by Pancho Villa himself. He didn?t have a problem with a guy from America called Raul who had blue eyes and blonde hair to play himself and he was still alive so why am I going to be more Pancho than Pancho.
Excerpt from interview previously published on LatinoReview at http://latinoreview.com/films_2003/sonypictures/ouatim/antonio_interview.html