Refused to rely on his good-looking face and masculinity that a lot of people, especially female, have adored, Antonio Banderas has proven that there is indeed a rare quality behind his striking feature that makes him deserve to be one of Hollywood's superstars. His long resume has shown the brilliance of his skills and talent in portraying many different characters, not to mention the critics' accolade upon his works and a number of awards he has collected. Taking great risk to enter the harsh environment of American film industry, it is very proper then to mention him as presumably the most celebrated Spanish actor Hollywood ever has.
Born on August 10, 1960 to Jose Dominguez and Dona Ana Banderas as Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas, Antonio spent his early life in his birthplace Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, together with his parents and younger brother, Francisco. He initially aimed to be a soccer player for it was this branch of sports that first caught his attention. Sadly, a terrible injury happened to his foot when he was 14, forcing him to give up his dream immediately. However, a new interest quickly took roots within him as the fifteen-years-old boy went with his family to see the stage production of "Hair." Deeply interested in acting, he decided to enter the School of Dramatic Art in his hometown and shortly thereafter joined a small theater troupe consisted of other aspiring young thespians. The group soon went all around the country, landing their feet in some little towns to entertain people on the street.
After worked with the group for a period of time, Antonio moved to Madrid in 1981 and surprisingly got a chance to perform at the National Theater of Spain as an ensemble member. It was not long before he brilliantly made his way to impress Pedro Almodovar upon witnessing his remarkable talent during one of his enactments at the theater. The budding director eagerly gave him a role in his 1982 film entitled "Laberinto de pasiones" ("Labyrinth of Passion"). He then managed to earn several roles in Almodovar's other movies, including "Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios" ("Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"). Released in 1988, the movie gloriously earned Best Foreign Language Film nomination at Academy Awards in the same year, leading him to gain wide recognition both nationally and internationally. His delight doubled as Ana Leze, his co-star in the film, finally accepted his marriage proposal.
Already popular in Spain by the late 80's, Antonio set out to infiltrate the Hollywood film industry. His first attempt to build his reputation was through "Madonna: Truth or Dare" (1991) which turned out to be a documentary feature of the phenomenal singer. However, it was his portrayal of Nestor Castillo in "The Mambo Kings" (1992) that American audiences began to take more notice on him. Getting closer to accomplish his goal, he was successfully included in the cast of two blockbuster movies namely "Philadelphia" (1993) and "Interview With the Vampire" (1994) in which he starred alongside Hollywood superstars, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. This was blissfully followed by a leading role as El Mariachi in a thrilling action flick entitled "Desperado" (1995). Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film scored well, brought him to encounter his breakthrough.
As his status increasingly flourished, Antonio carefully picked up the roles for his next films. He joined Sylvester Stallone and Julianne Moore in "Assassins" (1995), then earned the top billing in a romantic comedy flick entitled "Two Much" (1995). News about the growing love between him and his opposite in the film, Melanie Griffith, quickly spread throughout the country. They finally married on May 14, 1996 shortly after he divorced his wife, Ana. By September 24, the couple happily welcomed their first daughter, Stella del Carmen. In the meantime, Antonio reunited with Madonna in a musical drama movie of "Evita" (1996), displaying a fabulous dramatic performance while also making people impressed with his dancing and singing skills. His superb acting was indeed valued high as he received a nomination of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 1997.
Antonio's star shone more radiant when he took part in "The Mask of Zorro" (1998), being in the same scene with Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Critically acclaimed, the film garnered the income of almost 95 million U.S. dollar, boosting his career to the peak. He again was honored a nomination at Golden Globe Awards by the following year, this time in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. Although his 1999 projects, "The 13th Warrior" and "Play It to the Bone", did not quite meet everyone's expectation, he remained a hot commodity among Hollywood filmmakers. Once again collaborated with Rodriguez, he appeared in a family-oriented comedy feature of "Spy Kids" (2001). The tremendous success of this flick later made him reprise the role of Gregorio Cortez in its two sequels, "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams" (2002) and "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" (2003).
2003 proved to be a wonderful year for Antonio for he scored another success through his return as El Mariachi in "Desperado 2: Once Upon a Time in Mexico." He then turned his attention to TV, portraying the title character in HBO's "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself." Not only lauded by critics, he, for the third time, was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television at the 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards held in 2004. On the other hand, his role ignited some criticisms from Mexican people since they did not approve the idea of a Spaniard representing the character of their foremost local hero. Nevertheless, he moved on, teaming up with Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz to hit the box-office with "Shrek 2" (2004) in which he voiced Puss In Boots before appearing in "The Legend of Zorro" (2005) and "Take the Lead" (2006).
Next reprised his voice-acting stint in "Shrek the Third" (2007), Antonio effortlessly continued to strive high in elaborating his acting resume for the rest of he first decade of 2000s. Included in the list were other 2007 productions of "Homeland Security" and "Memoirs of Hadrian" as well as "Lovers, Liars and Thieves" (2009), "Conquistador" (2009), "Shrek 4" (2010), and "Puss in Boots" (2010), a spin-off movie in the "Shrek" franchise.