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If Only You Were Me

STORY
Banderas glad new Zorro is family-rated
 
Jamie Portman
CanWest News Service

Antonio Banderas returns as the title character in The Legend of Zorro. (Columbia Pictures)
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HOLLYWOOD -- Antonio Banderas started to feel his age during the shooting of The Legend Of Zorro.

By the time he finished filming, he was acutely aware that seven years had elapsed since he last donned the crusading hero's mask in The Mark Of Zorro.

"It was more painful this time," Banderas laughs. "Possibly it's because I'm 45 now and any time that I crashed somewhere, the bones started telling you that you are 45. I suppose that's not only because I'm seven years older but because the movie was, in that respect, a little harder."

What made the physical toll worthwhile was the fact that there was a good script and that he was working with friends and colleagues like co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, director Martin Campbell and producer Steven Spielberg. Banderas also says that they were all prepared to delay a sequel until "the right script and the right people" were in place.
 
"The right people are basically the people who made the first one. Not only the people in front of the camera but also everybody behind the camera -- the same cinematographer, same art director, same costume designer. So it was kind of a family scene."

But Banderas also says a sequel was inevitable because moviegoers wanted it.

"There comes a moment when you have a feeling that the movie doesn't belong to you anymore. It belongs to the audiences, and for movies like this, the audience is the one who decided at the end whether there was going to be a sequel or not."

However, although the new film spills over with lively action as Banderas's Zorro and Zeta-Jones's Elena battle a sinister secret society led by a villainous Rufus Sewell, a firm lid has been put on explicit violence.

"We were very specific about the fact that Zorro shouldn't kill anyone directly," Banderas stresses, noting that although two bad guys meet their deaths, they are not killed directly by Zorro.

"We were very keen on not showing any blood in the movie or showing Zorro stabbing anybody -- which happens in the first one. This time, Steven and Martin Campbell and everybody around the movie were very careful with that type of thing."

The new film is more family-oriented this time 'round -- with Zorro and Elena's 10-year-old son (played by engaging newcomer Adrian Alonso) making a major contribution to the story.

"We have to think also that this movie is going to be seen by kids, too," Banderas says. "I think it's important that it's not so bloody."

He's pleased that The Legend Of Zorro is getting a straight PG rating in the U.S., thereby making it more attractive to family audiences. He's also pleased that, despite the aches and pains he suffered, so many of the action sequences are for real.

"I think we were very keen to do something that reminds you of the way Western movies were done in the '40s and '50s -- not using much computer animation and technology and stuff. We wanted to have that kind of feeling and flavour and I think it adds a value to the movie in a world surrounded by new technologies and stuff like that."

jportman@cns.canwest.com

© CanWest News Service 2005


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