Antonio Banderas' Opens Up About How Playing Gay Characters Changed Him

The actor dishes on some of his most memorable roles.

ByABC News
November 13, 2015, 10:07 AM

— -- From “Philadelphia” and “Zorro” to “Puss in Boots,” Antonio Banderas is full of surprises each time he hits the big screen. Banderas is now playing playing “Super” Mario Sepúlveda, the man who took charge while trapped with 32 other miners in Chile in 2010.

It was a story that had to be relived on screen, Banderas told ABC News of the new film “The 33.”

“What we saw on television was more Hollywood than Hollywood,” Banderas said. “If anybody tried to write something like this out of their minds, a fiction movie, nobody would have believed this. Because the 33 come out alive, it’s a happy ending. It’s very Hollywood. But there were more things down there. … it’s about life and the simplicity of it.”

But unlike this role, some of Banderas’ other more celebrated roles were not such easy choices. Banderas, 55, told Peter Travers his greatest challenge came when he first began working with director Pedro Almodóvar.

PHOTO: Antonio Banderas and Peter Travers on the set of 'Popcorn with Peter Travers'
Antonio Banderas and Peter Travers on the set of 'Popcorn with Peter Travers'.

“He opened many different places in my brain as a human being, many different doors,” Banderas said. “He taught me many different things about morality. I remember when we were going to do ‘Law of Desire.’ And I was very worried about the gayness of the whole entire script. And that particular time, how my mother was going to see that or how my father was going to be perceived.

“And then I remember him saying to me, ‘Antonio, remember you killed somebody in scene 21. You don’t have a problem with that?’ And I said no. And he said, ‘You don’t have a problem to kill somebody in a movie, but you have a problem to kiss somebody in a movie. What is your problem? Think about it.’

“So we started reflecting on those things at that time. He was the person that made me take all of my pre-judgments and all of those things that you’re troubled with and just leave it outside the set.”

Banderas said former co-star Tom Hanks also helped his career, offering advice he took to heart.

“He said I don’t know how much you’re going to work in order to lose your accent, but I will advise you don’t,” Banderas said. “Because it’s one of your features. People will recognize you for your accent. It’s true. ‘Puss in Boots’ came out of that. I never dreamt that I was going to be called just for the use of my voice in American movies.”

Banderas added that he’s humbled by his own achievements.

“I am very thankful to my profession, not for what it give me materially in terms of being famous,” he said, “but what it taught me about human beings.”

“The 33” is in theaters now.