Not long ago in Bulgaria, actor Antonio Banderas found himself surrounded by a pack of brooding, scowling, muscle-bound men. But he wasn't worried—these guys were his friends and colleagues on location for the third and latest installment of The Expendables written and starring that eternal action hero, Sylvester Stallone. Intimidated much? Not Banderas.
Remember, this is the guy from Desperado and another Stallone endeavor, Assassins. Banderas spoke to us on the cusp of the opening of Expendables 3 (out today), on Hollywood, his favorite color, and, playing Picasso.
DETAILS: The Expendables 3 is an action film ... how was it for you to be, in essence, the comic relief of the movie?
ANTONIO BANDERAS: With the script and the role I saw an opportunity to create a character who is very frantic, who doesn't stop talking because if he does, he thinks. And if he thinks, he gets in trouble. He's also a very lonely, solitary character that is looking for a family. But, I saw the opportunity to make this guy (Galgo) unbelievably annoying and, at the same time, make it comedic. With the exception of one scene, the whole character was practically improvised.
DETAILS: This film is, in a way, an analogy for Hollywood's attitude toward those of an "older" generation, i.e. the old guys who can be perceived as being 'expendable.' What do you think of that?
ANTONIO BANDERAS: I think it's a little more complicated than that and there's another subtle wink from Sly here to the industry. Hollywood probably thought he was completely dry so the entire Expendables franchise is a way to say 'I may be older, but I'm not that old.'
DETAILS: I heard a lot of the actors worked out together while shooting in Bulgaria. You're already in great shape to begin with, but did you feel like 'Oh my god, I have to keep up with this?'
ANTONIO BANDERAS: NO WAY. There's no way I could achieve those arms in three weeks. I do yoga practically every day, and I run. I just worked out by myself at the hotel. And in reality I don't have that many action scenes—the majority of the film for me was comedy. I've never been that type of action hero during the course of my career.
DETAILS: Let's talk fashion. Do you have a uniform or a favorite look?
ANTONIO BANDERAS: I love boots—maybe it's because of Puss in Boots. I wear them all the time. And I love the color black—deep, deep black. It's always elegant.
DETAILS: Coming up: You're going to play Pablo Picasso in 33 Dias. It's one thing to play a fictional character, and completely another to play such a prolific artist. How are you approaching the role?
ANTONIO BANDERAS: In the case of Picasso I've done a ton of research, and, in fact, I've painted a full-size version of Guernica in preparation. Picasso was born in my hometown of Malaga, and so I've grown up absorbing his work and learning about his life. He left Malaga at about the same age I left Malaga, too. I love the man, I love the artist, and I couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to play him in a movie. And Gwyneth Paltrow is playing Dora Maar.
DETAILS: We just saw a poster come out with you sporting shaved head for the film Automata.
ANTONIO BANDERAS: This film is my baby. It is a film that I produced and acted in, and it was just announced that it's going to be presented at the San Sebastian Film Festival next month. It's an approach to science fiction from a very European point of view.
DETAILS: OK, last question—we're on the cusp of the Emmy Awards. What are some of your favorite T.V. shows?
ANTONIO BANDERAS: Mad Men. I've seen it all. I don't watch televisions as it's aired. Instead I watch, like, the entire season of a show on Netflix. I did that with Breaking Bad and I was totally hooked. And I love House of Cards. My god, it's a brilliant show, absolutely brilliant.