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Banderas takes off mask
Banderas takes off mask
Above: Banderas poses in Madrid in front of a huge poster showing himself as Zorro with his co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. — Reuters
In his second movie as a director, Antonio Banderas leaves Zorro behind to make a smaller film in which he believes he can "really express the things I feel inside," writes Raquel Castillo.

Spanish actor Antonio Banderas is looking forward to a second stint as director, breaking from his adventures as swashbuckling legend Zorro, the latest episode of which hits screens later this month.

That is not to say that he did not have fun playing the masked Mexican hero.

"It's a character that I always found really likable. I'm fond of Zorro because he was a popular figure who worked for the people," Banderas says.

The 45-year-old heartthrob, discovered by Pedro Almodovar in the 1980s, is getting behind the camera again next month to film "El Camino de los Ingleses" ("The Way of the English").

It is his second feature after 1999's "Crazy in Alabama" which starred Banderas' wife Melanie Griffith and which received mixed reviews.

Directing is a different sort of challenge from acting but one Banderas says he relishes, particularly because it will allow him to come back to Spain from Los Angeles where he is now based. Filming is due to start in a few weeks in his home province of Malaga.

"Coming back home is a great satisfaction, as is making a film which is smaller, more familiar, where I can really express the things I feel inside," he says.

"The film I'm going to make has got nothing to do with Zorro or the kind of movies that I make in the United States."

"El Camino de los Ingleses" stars Spanish actress Victoria Abril, who famously paired with Banderas in Almodovar's "Atame" ("Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down").

Other players are yet to be cast but are likely to be unknown young Spanish actors. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Antonio Soler, which tells the story of young adolescents growing up in Malaga at the end of the 1970s.

"I completely take on the risk, the poker game, which being an artist means, and I'm going to try to make a film which honestly reflects what I have in my head," he says.

Banderas made his name in Hollywood in the mid-1990s with roles in "Interview with the Vampire" and "Philadelphia."

He says Hollywood has given him the opportunity for more diverse roles than he would ever have had in Spain, even starring in Broadway musical "Nine" for which he was nominated for a Tony award.

"The Legend of Zorro," the follow-up to 1998's "The Mask of Zorro" gave the actor the rare opportunity to play a diverse role which straddles comedy, adventure and romance.

Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones co-stars with him again in the new chapter, under the orders of Martin Campbell and with Steven Spielberg as producer.


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