Antonio Banderas, one of Spain's most recognizable faces was a soccer player until he broke his foot at age 14 but is now an international film star best known as Zorro. He was born as José Antonio Domínguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in Málaga, Spain. At the age of 14 he developed a passion for theatre after seeing the stage production of 'Hair'.
Banderas began his acting studies at the School of Dramatic Art in Málaga, and made his acting debut at a small theatre in Málaga. He was arrested by the Spanish police for a performance in a play by Bertolt Brecht, because of political censorship under the rule of General Francisco Franco. Banderas spent a whole night at the police station; he had three or four such arrests while he was working with a small theatre group that toured all over Spain and was giving performances in small town theatres and on the street.
In 1979, he moved to Madrid in pursuit of an acting career. At that time he joined the group at the National Theatre of Spain, becoming the youngest member of the company. Banderas's stage performances caught the attention of film director Pedro Almodóvar, who cast the young actor in his film debut, Laberinto de pasiones in 1982. Banderas and Almodovar joined forces in making innovative and sexually provocative movies during the 1980s. In 1984 Banderas made headlines in Spain with his performance as a gay man, making his first male-to-male on-screen kiss in Almodovar's La ley del deseo (1987). Banderas's long and fruitful collaboration withPedro Almodóvar eventually prepared him for international recognition that came with his work in the Academy Award-nominated film Mujeres al borde de un ataque de "nervios" (1988).
Banderas shot to international fame with his sensitive performance as a lover of Tom Hanks' AIDS-infected lawyer in Philadelphia (1993), and then went on to play opposite Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Entrevista con el vampiro (Crónicas vampíricas) (1994). Banderas further established himself as one of Hollywood's leading men after co-starring in Evita (1996) opposite Madonna in the lead role. In 1998 he won acclaim for his portrayal of Zorro, opposite Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, in La máscara del Zorro (1998). Banderas has won numerous awards and nominations for his works in film, including three ALMA awards and three Golden Globe nominations, among many other.
Engagement in Cultural Diplomacy
Humanitarian Causes and Philanthropic Donations
Antonio Banderas has supported many charities: Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Cinema For Peace, Oceana, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The Art of Elysium, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme and many more. In 2008, Banderas launched his first fragrance, ‘Blue Seduction for Women’, and gave a percentage of all proceeds to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Banderas also has his own foundations called ‘Fundación Lágrimas y Favores’ (Tears and Favors Foundation) whose mission is to help the training of university students and cancer patients. Their vision is that the brotherhood world in general and the guilds in particular have not only the possibility, for the human framework we have, but also a degree of responsibility and duty towards society and the community to which they belong .