Saturday 16 December 2017

Antonio Banderas: Men are allowed grow older but for women, it's different

Antonio Banderas
Antonio Banderas

If you find yourself whooping with laughter during the new SpongeBob SquarePants film, you might want to spare a thought for poor Antonio Banderas.

Playing Pirate Burger-Beard in the comedy – a mix of live action and animation – required the Spanish star to don long, ratty locks and a fake beard big enough to house several small animals.

“At six o’clock every morning, this kind of hairy tsunami came to me. It was like a bear attacked me and it stayed there for the rest of the day,” the 54-year-old says with a groan.

“After three days with the glue and the amount of hair attached to my face, my skin started getting irritated, so I had to shave off the glue, literally, with a razor, every day.”

Matters were made worse each time villainous Burger-Beard was required to emit a loud cackle.

“Every time he laughed, my moustache got detached, so more glue... Maybe watching the movie, I’ll say, ‘Oh yes, I can see the pain in my face’,” adds Banderas, whose skin is now clear and clean-shaven again.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water is based on the hugely popular Nickelodeon TV series, following the lives of fast food worker SpongeBob and his pals in Bikini Bottom.

When the top secret recipe for his Krabby Patty burgers is stolen, SpongeBob must join forces with arch rival Plankton to prevent Burger-Beard from capitalising on the delicious delicacies.

Hilarity follows as SpongeBob and his gang – including Squidward, Patrick the sea star and Mr Krabs the crustacean – bag themselves some superpowers (with SpongeBob landing a six-pack and becoming the bubble-blowing Incredibubble) and head to the 3D real world to track down their enemy.

As the only ‘live’ character in the film, Banderas had to act opposite tennis balls and brooms before the special effects team got to work adding his co-stars.

Despite the itchy beard and the hot days on location in Savannah, Georgia, Banderas – who announced his split from wife of 18 years Melanie Griffith in 2014 – found filming “a lot of fun”.

“My daughter [Stella, Banderas and Griffith’s 18-year-old] and I love SpongeBob, and I’d be a fool to turn down the chance to share the screen with such an iconic presence,” the star adds.

While Stella hasn’t decided on her career path yet, her older half-sister, Banderas’ former stepdaughter Dakota Johnson (from Griffiths’ previous marriage to actor Don Johnson), has followed in her family’s footsteps.

The 25-year-old played leading lady and S&M novice Anastasia Steele in this year’s hotly anticipated Fifty Shades Of Grey adaptation.

“We all knew in the family that she’s a great actress, and surprisingly not only a good dramatic actress, she’s very good with comedy,” notes Banderas, who says he hasn’t watched Fifty Shades yet.

“We’re very confident that she is driving her career properly.”

Banderas still possesses the good looks that helped propel him to fame, along with some laughter lines around his eyes and silver flecks in his hair.

The star – whose ex-wife is rumoured to have gone under the knife to preserve her looks – says male actors don’t face the same image pressures as female stars. Still; what’s his secret?

“If you take life in a natural way and you accept the passage of time, which is impossible to stop – never pretend to fight the impossible and the   certainties that come with existence,” he starts.

“I try to be as natural as possible. I understand though, especially [for] women, the tremendous pressure that they receive in a place like Hollywood, where thousands of new girls arrive every year all fresh and new, and when you’re getting to a certain age, they can feel the push of these things.

“It’s more cruel unfortunately for women than men. There’s a social convention that allows men to grow older and not be so criticised and pushed about beauty.

“For women, it’s different. It’s ridiculous, but that’s the way that we created image around ourselves.”

Born to a police officer and a teacher in Malaga, Banderas’ own career began on the stage.

In fact, before he appeared in professional projects, he was treading the boards in plays for children in the late Seventies.

“I was very young, 17-years-old, performing characters that were actually very close to this pirate,” he recalls, his Spanish accent still strong.

He came to worldwide prominence in the Nineties, landing parts in successful movies like The Mambo Kings, Philadelphia, Evita and The Mask Of Zorro.

In recent years, he’s had a few roles in high-profile animations, voicing Puss in Boots in the Shrek films – first appearing in 2004’s Shrek 2, before taking centre stage in 2011’s Puss In Boots – and handsome Sir Clorex in 2013’s Justin And The Knights Of Valour.

He could never have dreamed as a young thespian, though, that he’d be playing a burger-flipping pirate in a globally successful animation franchise.

“Never in my wildest dreams, did I imagine that was going to happen in the context of a Hollywood production, with all the technology surrounding this,” he says.

“That was unthinkable at the time, not only for me but for anybody, to see how far movies have come in terms of the realities that you can photograph now.”

 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water is in cinemas from this Friday

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