INT: Antonio Banderas

All the major players may be back, but the surprise of SHREK 2 is that the biggest laughs come from a newcomer. The character of Puss In Boots, played by Antonio Banderas, steals the show as a feline assassin sent to hunt down Shrek. After meeting the big green ogre, Puss switches sides and pledges to aid him and Donkey in their quest to rescue Princess Fiona from the evil Prince Charming and Fairy Godmother. The swashbuckling cat is a perfect fit for Banderas, who likely drew on his experience playing Zorro in 1998's THE MASK OF ZORRO. Last week, Banderas stopped by to talk about making SHREK 2, his first animated feature. He also talked about the upcoming sequel to Zorro, which starts shooting this July.


A lot of people feel you steal the show.

Really? Do you think so? When I saw the movie, the character that made me laugh the most was donkey.

Your character is a little similar to Zorro.

It's interesting. At the beginning, when I first got on this two years ago, they said to me the guy was thought to be French, kind of a D'artagnan, from The Three Musketeers. But obviously, once I jumped in there with my accent, he became Zorro.

Was there any talk of giving him your Mariachi moves?

No, but sometimes they put cameras in the recording or they were recording the way you were just performing the lines, just to copy that, but I suppose that they went to some of my epic movies like Zorro, Desperado, The 13th Warrior, movies like that. Because sometimes I recognize some moves. I say, "Oh my God, that's mine." It's kind of fun. I actually never thought, really, because this is the first time I did an animation movie.

I didn't know that we were going to have so much input, that the movie is so related to the actors. I thought it was going to be more of a process like, just repeat this line until the line got totally perfect. I don't know why I thought that. I probably did because it's so technologically based that I thought it was going to be almost like being in a tube without any kind of creativity. But it was not like that.

Did you do this movie for your children?

No. Actually, I have to say that I am a fanatic of Shrek 1. My daughter may have seen the movie two times. I saw it like six. I just love it. I thought it was beautiful. But no, I wouldn't base my whole entire career on my daughter. You know, I mean, three Spy Kids, now this cat, it would be kind of weird. It's a coincidence that I am in Spy Kids and now this movie, movies that are oriented in some ways for kids. Not so much actually Shrek. I think Shrek makes an effect on older people. And there are many things in the movie that you saw that are not for kids. Kids would not understand certain things. They are not dangerous for them because they're not going to understand that when they take the bag out of my boot, kids may be saying, "What's that?" That's just for us.

Melanie said she had a hard time with animation. Did she give you any tips?

That's what I said before - that it may depend on who is directing the movie, what are the purposes, how he will drive the artist. But it's true that I remember her coming home saying, "Well, it's very heavy. It's something that you have to repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat it again, and there is nothing creative about it." And after she went back and she was having more fun with the little bird that she did in Stuart Little. But for her, it was a different experience and I suppose that it has to do tremendously with the team that you are working with.

Not only just the director of the movie, the team. I remember when I was taken to the studio for the first time, they had a room quite like this with all pictures of what the movie was going to be. Practically the whole entire movie was there and in that room, there were at least 10 people. Drawers, people who were going to be in different departments, and they all were explaining the movie to me. And there was a guy actually who did all the voices. They should have recorded that guy. It was unbelievable. He was doing the whole entire movie with a pointer like this. So they want you to be integrated in the story as soon as possible, and to be part of it. And I think that's a procedure, it's a method. Some people may follow that and some people may not.

Did your character ever change through the filmmaking process?

No. The process that they explained to me at the beginning was exactly what we did. They said to me, "We are going to take material from you. We are going to put it together and animate it. And then we're going to come back. That's going to happen seven, eight times, ten. We don't know the sessions." After we did it the first time, apparently they were very happy with the results and they made the character grown in that different direction, they add some things here and there. So the character started getting more sessions, working, but no. I didn't have the thing of one year later, "Tell me what we have to do with this thing?"

What influence did you put in this character?

I don't know. Just trying to spoof myself a little bit, which I did actually in Spy Kids in a different way. But the possibility of laughing at yourself is something that not every day you have that in your hands. So I like that. I like to have a sense of humor with a character. That is not very difficult because the wit that is implicit- - I mean, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is the scene with actually one line probably. I'm not implicated in that scene. It's when Donkey says, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Pop" all that stuff. I think it's hilarious. I got like 10 minutes in the movie theater cracking up. I never saw it together. I think that is implicit. Obviously Eddie is putting in a tremendous input of he's funny. I mean, he's a funny guy. He really is. He knows very much about rhythms and about what the character is about. I think it's there. You have to just jump into a tone.

Did you do your own hairball noises?

Yes, absolutely. It cost me one note, a C note that I had to do in Nine, the play that I was doing that day. The cat was the reason that I couldn't hit that note.

Were you surprised when you saw the final film?

Quite. What surprised me the most is that we were working in solitude. We didn't have other actors working with us. Even when I sung La Vida Loca, I sung my part totally independently of Eddie. So it is nice just to see it all together. Not only just the animation which is I think fabulous, but just the interaction among all the actors, sometimes even stepping on the lines of each other is something that we didn't do when we were recording it. How they edit it, it was masterful.

Any chance of you and Eddie Murphy taking your musical act on the road?

I don't know Eddie. I never met him. I just met Julie Andrews this morning, but I never met Eddie.

What scene was the most difficult?

The one of the hairball because of the hair actually. I didn't find it difficult actually. I thought it was going to be more difficult. I had a lot of fun with them. I didn't find particularly difficult any scene. And because they want to respect my accent totally, they thought it was one of the features of the character, I didn't have to really do any kind of prep for it in that aspect.

Did you grow up with any of these fairy tales?

Yeah. In Spain, Puss in Boots is called El Gato Con Botas and he's a very, very famous character for kids. As many of the characters that appear in the movie, I think are international fairy tales that goes all around the world. So I recognized the three pigs. You know, many of the characters that are in the movie are very well known fairy tales in Spain which helps the movie because everybody recognizes those characters. And whatever spoof they are doing with them, if there is a word that defines this type of movie, and not just the second one, even the first one is I think is wit.

Are you looking forward to working with Pedro Almodovar again?

I'm pretty, pretty scared actually to go back to Pedro. Not to Spain, to Pedro. First, he's a tough director. Pedro is not an easy guy. Very creative, but because he's the leader of the whole bunch and he controls practically everything from cinematography to costumes, makeup, everything. And Pedro is one of the directors that actually doesn't allow you to create very much. In fact, I remember the times that I was working with him, I used to say, "I have an idea." He'd say, "No, no, you don't have ideas. I have the ideas. You just come here very fresh in the morning, very happy and I will direct you."

So that's the way that Pedro does things. When you have a director that has the talent that he has, you immediately jump into that pot and you don't care. You just say, "Well, I want to do exactly what you want to do. Write it, use me as I was a pen." You do that with directors that you have great confidence in them, that they're kind of geniuses and they have very strong proposals to do. If a director that I don't trust comes without a story, I will say no way. If you want to do it like that, I'll go home. Then I want to have my input. But if it's Pedro Almodovar, I allow him to do it.

Is another Zorro in the works?

It is. We start the 26th of July.

Will it have the same cast?

Catherine is in the movie. Hopkins, no, because he got killed. We have a bunch of new bad guys, but we don't know names yet. Last night I had actually a dinner with Martin Campbell and they're putting together the whole thing now. But it's green lit, we are going, and on the 26th of July, principal photography starts.

Who did the script?

The same guys who did the first one and did Pirates of the Caribbean and Godzilla.

Campbell's directing?

Martin Campbell is directing the movie, Steven Spielberg producing.

Will it be difficult to get back into Zorro shape?

Actually, I'm in pretty good shape now, but what I have to do obviously is just to go back to the sword and to the horse.

How will the sequel differ from the first film?

It's a little bit more mature. It still keeps the adventure feeling and it keeps us with a hero, which is I think fundamental for Zorro. But it's a little bit more mature. It's more based in jealousy and concepts that are more for us than for kids.

Any chances of a Puss In Boots spinoff?

That would be very successful, but I don't think it's necessary but what we have in the movie, there is a sequel, that's enough.

Are you signed on for Shrek 3?

I'm not signed, no, I haven't signed. I heard that they are thinking about that possibility. I think the interesting thing about actually Jeffrey Katzenberg has been responsible for the whole thing. Sometimes in sequels, what you have is just a producer, very smart, that tries to do the movie for four times the price that he did the first one. And use the hit of the first one just to make big easy money. But that's not the case of Jeffrey. Jeffrey actually was kind of in competition mode with himself.

He wanted just to overcome the first one and go further with the technology aspect of it and with the content of the movie and the insertion of different characters. I mean, he's an ambitious man and an ambitious team and we were really make Shrek become one of those characters that is going to be forever into the American pop culture. That is interesting. This is a guy who can be common like Mickey Mouse. Those characters that are forever part of your brain, of your being, you know. I'm telling you, not just because I'm here to talk. If I weren't in the second part, I would still be talking beautifully about Shrek because I am a fan of the first one.

Any chance of a cameo in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City?

No, they didn't do that yet but it's interesting. The other day I was in New York and Harvey Weinstein called me and I couldn't get a hold of him, so probably that's what he wants to talk to me about. I don't know. I like the concept though. Robert Rodriguez showed me the concept. It's beautiful. It's going to be kind of a real comic book.

Source: JoBlo.com



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