The Albeniz theater in Madrid is being combed for the baptism. Well, he renamed. Several swarms of workers from the renovation works, and from the production of Company, the musical work with which it reopens after 17 years closed and threatened with demolition, give the final touches so that everything, and everyone, shines at the premiere. It smells of sawdust, paint, new, brand new. On the eve of something big. In those, the boss arrives, Antonio Banderas (Malaga, 62 years old) takes off his usual cap and glasses as an incognito star, and puts himself under the orders of the photographer, with whom he talks about his things. Then he sighs, puffs, collapses into a chair in front of the tape recorder, and indulges in a torrential, amused chatter punctuated with winks and chuckles. What follows is just an attempt to narrow it down.

He seems tired. Nerves for the premiere?

No. Tiredness is my natural state. I work a lot. I am hyperactive: I have tried to reduce the volume since the heart attack that I suffered in 2017, but, in the end, I end up doing everything and, at 62 years old, whatever happens.

Has the ‘yuyu’ gone?

Yes. If we all know that we come here to die, what I do now is do less nonsense and only do exactly what I want. People ask me why I come to Madrid with the same show from Malaga. Well because I like it. I am addicted to work as I want to work. My life begins when the curtain rises and I hear “action” and ends when I hear “cut.” For many years, my representatives did not want me to do theater, because it is not profitable. In fact, here I come to lose. Success is a rare creature, but what I do seek is excellence. I can afford that luxury, I don’t have to present accounts to anyone.

But, in addition, he has to feed 300 employees.

And I do, pulling my pocket, in this case. But, what about the pleasure that I am giving myself? That is priceless.

Bernardo Perez, the photographer who has photographed him, also had a heart attack and swore that, if he went out, he would buy a Harley, the dream of his life…

It is exactly that. The theater is my Harley, my private plane, my boat. My passion. When that happened I got rid of many expensive and useless toys, and returned to my essence. People forget that I am an actor for the theater, regardless of the fact that later I had a prolific career, let’s say economically, and fun, in terms of fame. The cinema has been an accident of 120 films that has allowed me to do the theater that I want the way I want.

For many years, my representatives did not want me to do theater, because it is not profitable. In fact, here I come to lose. Success is a very rare bug”

It is the second time that one is released. El Albeniz, which is reopening, and Soho in Malaga, which you inaugurated yourself.

Geez, I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah. I must be one of the few people in the world who have done it. And it is a miracle in these times when theaters close and become department stores, bingo halls or discos. Every time one opens, there is a ray of hope, because I believe that the problems of modern societies stem from a lack of culture and ideas. There is almost an exaltation of ignorance. The other day I saw a meme that made me laugh: “They are going to do 3D so, so well that they are going to invent the theater,” he said. The theater has been invented for 3,000 years, you just have to take care of it.

He is so loved in Malaga that he only needs to be canonized: San Antonio Banderas del Pimpi (the most famous bar in Malaga, under his house, of which he is a member).

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would like to help make Malaga look like what I once dreamed of. And, the truth is that every time it is looking more like it. But strange things happen. Once, in the audience of the Soho theater, a lady stood up and shouted out loud: “Are you really Antonio? Antonio Banderas, Banderas?” I didn’t say anything, but I wanted to answer her: “Yes, ma’am, and the earth is not flat” [laughs].

Tourists photograph his penthouse from the Alcazaba in case they catch him sunbathing on his terrace.

I’m about to put a life-size cut-out so that they leave happy. It doesn’t bother me. What does it cost me? I assume the discomforts of living where and how I want.

When I was about to turn 50, in an interview, he told me that adrenaline went up and testosterone went down. How is she doing with both at 62?

Testosterone is very good: in its place. It’s funny, but I haven’t noticed big changes. There will be, I suppose, but I feel very, very, very well.

So, he hasn’t had the mid-life crisis, like Bobby, his character in Company.

Not in that way. Bobby’s crisis is terrible because, throughout his life, he has had a chosen loneliness, for not wanting to commit himself and, at this point, he realizes that he has no one to say I love you, and he is invaded by a fierce fear of stay alone.

Loneliness is hard for everyone.

The work is hard, because it talks about very simple things that we can all recognize. That wanting and not having someone steal your sofa.

How curious. Luis Garcia Montero talks about the “sofa like a boat adrift” in his living room after the death of his wife, Almudena Grandes.

Well, if Luis comes to see us, he’s going to die. Once, in Malaga, after the show, I was walking home as usual, a girl in her thirties came up to me, alone, and she told me that she had cried through the show. She had just divorced.

I don’t get along with flattery, because sometimes the devil loads it. I prefer someone who touches my balls, with truth and with reason, to a ball”

And you, have you felt alone?

Yes, but for the moment, they have always been chosen solitudes, because I needed them. It happens the other way around, sometimes I am in too much company, with a lot of things, noise and a lot of people around.

60-year-old men like 22-year-old women. Do you understand?

Notice that I, almost always, have dated women older than me. My wife, Melanie [Griffith]. But of course I understand, the one I don’t understand is the 22.

Have you felt left out?

Yes, I have felt out of place. In my first stage in the United States, everything was very dizzying, even the good things, because I didn’t see it as normal. They insisted that I was something that I didn’t even feel myself.

By excess or by default?

For excess. I don’t get along with flattery, because sometimes the devil loads it. I prefer someone who touches my balls, with truth and with reason, to a ball.

Well, there are stars, and bosses, who love to surround themselves with them.

Look, in the theater, now that I’m the boss, it could happen. But I have brought very beaten professionals, with bare ass, who do not allow me nonsense, if it occurred to me. Talk to them.

And you, what do you admire in others?

Damn, so many things. Intelligence, of course, talent and, above all, the ability to work. I have based a lot of my career on being persevering and conscientious.

Is your success more work or more talent?

I would tell you that, at this point, 50%, but later I regret it. I’m not a bright or witty person. I’m afraid of those psychological interviews that tell you one word: “Spain” and you have to answer with another, I don’t know: “Paella”. I need time to think, to find the truth. I’ve been writing for a long time.

Now that it seems that science says that we can live 150 or 200 years, there are those who say that they do not want to live that long. Well I do”

What does he write?

Poetry, thoughts, personal essays on the essentiality of art in moments of crisis. It helps me reflect and find answers.

What do you see in the mirror?

This is the question that I have been asked the most in my life.

Earth swallow me.

I’ll tell you: I see a person very much in love with life. It bothers me a lot to have to die. Now that it seems that science says that we can live 150 or 200 years, there are those who say that they do not want to live that long. Well I do.

For that he would have to fast for a good part of the day, deprive himself of certain pleasures. Is that life worth it?

Well, I haven’t eaten yet and it’s three in the afternoon [laughs].

There, there, making merits.

I only drink white tea in the morning and then eat a lot and well. The truth is that now it’s great for my vocal cords, but that way I feel very good and full of energy and, hey, for my sake it doesn’t stay.


Antonio Banderas has done almost everything in his trade since he started acting and settled in Madrid with one hand in front and the other behind at the age of 20. Back from Hollywood without ever leaving, and living in his hometown for the fun of it after suffering a serious health scare in 2017, Banderas doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Therefore, because he can and because he wants to, he exercises his right to do only what he wants. On November 17 he re-releases the musical Company,by Sondheim, at the re-opened Albeniz theater in Madrid. His character, Bobby, a cheerleader who sees the ears of the wolf of loneliness after having fled his commitment all his life, is 50 years old. He, 62. The challenge amuses him. “I make the public believe that I am younger. From the audience, I think he sneaks it in. Another thing is that they look closely at my face,” he jokes. The respectable has the floor.