Monday, December 5, 2011

WILL ANTONIO BANDERAS "MAKE IT?"


He has an indefinable something---intensity, animality, and a focus that reaches you, in the audience, as if he were right there in front of you.

He's gotten awards, rave reviews and star billing. You'd recognize him if you saw him on the street, though it might take a moment to remember his name. I didn't realize Banderas played Tom Hank's lover in "Philadelphia," an Oscar-winning film about a lawyer who was fired when his bosses realized he had AIDS. I was very moved by the tender-loving relationship of the two men. It's an Em Oscar for Banderas, that during those scenes, I didn't think "Oh that's Antonio Banderas." I didn't realize till the credits rolled, that macho Antonio was playing the homosexual lover.

He can play almost any kind of male role -- heroes, villains, and madmen. He's always fascinating, though sometimes, the smoldering sensual- sexual element in his eyes and bearing is almost too much, as if he's been directed to send out a stronger, hotter message. Occasionally I've found myself thinking he's over-acting, but mostly his choices as an actor -- jumping out window, leaping across roofs,, singing, dancing, dueling, fighting -- are brilliant, unpredictable, amazing.

I think that most people, watching one of the very famous star actors in a film have the star's persona, the star-actor's name in their minds, not the name of the character. Can you imagine seeing a movie with Cary Grant, not thinking it's "Cary." Even when Charlton Heston did those TV sitcoms, he was always Charlton Heston, "Moses," or Ben Hur."

So why hasn't Banderas become one of those top stars? Is it the scripts, the producers, the breaks?

In the most recent photos of him, like this one with his wife, Melanie Griffith, Banderas seems to have a different cheek bone structure. Was his face "fixed?" Or is it his short-cropped hair, or the fact that he's 51-years-old? (Aging is tough for everyone, but for an actor it can be devastating, especially an actor like Banderas, who's forte has been playing the leading man/lover.)

Will Antonio Banderas become a major star name? Has the time passed for him? Was he hurt by his marriage to Melanie Griffith? Maybe her determination to remain head-to-toe young/sexy/gorgeous is influencing him.

I don't know. I know actor John Cullum, who is not a major movie star, is never aware of how he looks, and doesn't rev up emotion, never over-acts. Cullum figures out who the character is in terms of the story,. and searches for the positive elements in the role -- who and what the character loves and what he 'wants to achieve.

What can I say to the handsome Antonio Banderas? Based on my experience as director/wife, I'm saying Antonio B, be YOU less, be the person you are playing in the show much more. The time hasn't passed. You have already "made it."

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