It took over 20 years, but Antonio Banderas and famed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar have teamed up again, and it’s a reunion that was worth the long wait.
Decades after “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” Banderas and Almodóvar are back at it with “The Skin I Live In,” a brilliant thriller centered around some seriously dark themes.
Banderas plays a plastic surgeon testing synthetic skin on a patient who looks suspiciously like his late wife -- a tough role, for sure -- and Banderas credits Almodóvar for giving him the opportunity to deliver another banner performance.
You haven’t worked with Pedro Almodóvar in a long time.
It has been beautiful and difficult, because Pedro loves to work from scratch and reinvent himself, and reinvent you too as an actor. That means you go into territory that is unknown and take a leap of faith. That is what you do with Pedro Almodóvar, and I’m very happy that it happened 21, 22 years after we did our last movie.
Did working with him feel like coming home?
More than home -- coming to my family. Although we didn’t work [together] in all that time, we were in contact, we saw each other. The personal contact did not disappear.
One of the themes of “The Skin I Live In” is obsession.
Some people say it’s very much about revenge. My character triggers something that is bigger than revenge and makes him walk in very dark territory that has to do with perfection, has to do with creation, and has to do with the possibility of this person playing God.
You must feel grateful that one of the most creative directors in the industry is a fellow Spaniard.
Yes, whatever happens in my life from now on, I know the day I finally die -- the final act of my script -- people will always make references to the work I’ve done with Almodóvar. We don’t intellectualize the chemistry that we seem to produce; in fact we never talk about it. We talk about things that are way more specific when we are working, details of the character. We never get into the kind of conversation like you and me. “What is between you two...?” No! That is forbidden.
Who is more famous in Spain? You, Penélope Cruz or Ferran Adrià ?
(Laughs) Ferran Adrià , easily.
Ever miss the Spanish lifestyle in LA?
Sometimes. Not so much the siestas. But the food I miss, and obviously my family and friends. I miss sidewalks. Málaga, the little town where I was born, is not a place where you ever have to go in a car. It’s like a big, big village where you recognize people on the street and, you know, that kind of life is very natural in a way and at the same time is very artistic.
Can you tell the difference between Spanish and Italian olive oil?
Maybe. Italians use a lot of our olives. They transport them to Italy and then manufacture the oil in Italy and they sell it as Italian olive oil but some of it is coming from Spain.
How dare they!
How they dare! But let me say, I just came back from Rome where we were doing promotion [for the film]. It was really sinful how much we ate and how wonderful the food was. We had a wonderful time.