The 57 year old Banderas, he of Mambo Kings, Philadelphia (he played Hanks’ love interest), and The Mask of Zorro renown has landed the role of the world renown painter Pablo Picasso. Adding to his impressive acting career, he has returned to his home town of Malaga where ironically, Picasso himself was born. As a native Spaniard, he retains the identity connected to his roots of this city of more than 500,000 people. It is a theatrical homecoming for him.
In order to play the role he had to have his head and eyebrows shaved off, so you may pause for a second trying to notice him on the screen. Playing a hometown “hero” who is also widely known as a philanderer is something Banderas admits he is ambivalent about. But playing the role also required him to delve deeper into the history of Picasso and learn his motives and methods of painting and passion. If you ever had a hometown hero or someone you idolized growing up as a kid, you can relate to how Banderas feels. But if you have to discover their darker side after 50 years, how would your p [perspective change?
Banderas says that the world of acting can be a grind, doing take after take before getting a scene exactly the way the director wants it. This is a pace similar to what he had to go through to become intimately acquainted with his childhood hero. In some ways he mirrors Picasso because what people read about and popularize is nothing like the real person. (Banderas is no Picasso, having been married to Melanie Griffith for 19 years and they still remain close friends.) They both are artists, just in different ways. During an interview about the movie he quipped, “I don’t want to be the sexy boy my whole life because that would be pathetic.”
Playing the controversial side of character is nothing new to Banderas. In fact, this type of role is reminiscent of his early days in theater, in the same locale of Malaga. Some habits die hard, as he reflected on his acting career as a whole. Fans may not know him as a perfectionist, but that side of him will become apparent when they see the movie. One of his greatest personal fears is “I think I will die thinking, ‘I didn’t get that thing that I will be remembered for.'” This is especially true as he continues working on this double sided history of Picasso.
You may find it more than interesting that he co-owns a restaurant named “El Pimpi” which is one of his favorite places to visit and displays an authentic sketch drawn by Picasso along with many of his career movie awards. He had two Picasso sketches but chose to give the other one to Griffith after the divorce. It seems he has not lost the love of romance, something that is natural to his native city and to Picasso, despite their flaws. Banderas is perfect for the role, as his early childhood was surrounded by all things Picasso. Towards the end of his career he is now becoming a theatrical but accurate version of Picasso.
Life does come full circle in many ways.