Banderas wins Cannes ´best actor´

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Spanish actor Antonio Banderas has portrayed Zorro and Pablo Picasso but he is above all the go-to actor of Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar, who launched his hugely successful film career in the early 1980s. And it was the 58-year-old´s nuanced portrayal of Almodovar´s alter ego in the director´s “Pain & Glory” that won him the best actor award at the Cannes film festival.

Sporting Almodovar´s spiky hair and colourful clothes, he plays the movie´s central character, an ageing Spanish director who is plagued by physical and psychological frailty who revisits childhood memories. Almodovar, 69, has repeatedly said Banderas gives the “best performance of his life” in the film, which ran in competition for the Palme d´Or top prize.

On accepting his award, Banderas dedicated it Almodovar, who has cast him in eight films and helped make him a global box office draw. “I respect him, I admire him, I love him, he´s my mentor and he´s given me so much in my entire life that this award, obviously, has to be dedicated to him,” he said.

Despite six attempts to win the Palme d´Or at Cannes over the past 20 years, Almodovar has never won the top prize and was conspicuously absent from Saturday night´s ceremony. When Banderas began his acting career, he “was a passionate animal who impressed just by his presence”, Almodovar told Spanish film magazine Fotogramas earlier this year.

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“But now he has matured” after going through three heart operations following a 2017 heart attack “and even though he is full of vitality… I can see in his face the experience of someone who knows that he could be dead”, he said. Speaking to Spain´s Cadena Ser radio, Banderas said he loved the director because he had made him “reflect on a huge number of things throughout my life”.

Back in 1987, Almodovar got him to play a gay killer in “Law of Desire” at a time when depicting crime in movies “was morally accepted” while two people sharing a same-sex kiss “was spurned as anathema”, he said.


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