Not many people view a heart attack as a good thing. But when Antonio Banderas had one, it made him change his life forever.
“I thought I was going to die, and it made me understand life in a deeper, more complex way,” he explained in an interview in today’s Independent. The actor now considers the affliction “one of the best things to ever happen to me.”
Banderas recalled how the illness impacted his life choices. “I detached from things that are not important any more – the car, and this and that – and then I just put my attention in family, friends and in recovering... well, the essence of why I became an actor.”
Until 2015 Banderas was thought to have one of the most enduring marriages in Hollywood. He had been married to Melanie Griffith for 19 years when the pair finally divorced.
These days he lives with his girlfriend, Dutch model Nicole Kimpel, who he met soon after the split, in Cobham in Surrey. The pair recently walked the red carpet in Cannes for Banderas’ new film Pain and Glory, for which he won the film festival’s best actor award.
He calls the film with long-time collaborator director Pedro Almodovar “one of the most beautiful experiences of my life”. Adding “[It was] an exercise in being humble and saying, ‘OK, I will understand what you wanna do and I am gonna detach from every tool that I had before’.”
The film, which has a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, is a return to form for the actor/director duo. It has already picked up a flurry of awards, with the Evening Standard calling it “Almodóvar's best work for years”.