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Antonio Banderas - Zorro Rides Again
Antonio Banderas
Antonio Banderas
Antonio Banderas is back as the masked avenger for a sequel to The Mask of Zorro, eight years after the original movie.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is also on board for what's gearing up to be a movie franchise - and one increasingly for all the family, as Zorro gets domesticated.

But, as Banderas explained to, The Legend of Zorro is no less swashbuckling...

Women often give men a hard time, and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is not cutting slack for her husband Alejandro (Antonio Banderas). I mean, is it too much too ask him to spend more time with his wife and his young son?

Apparently yes, but she's not taking no for an answer. She wants him to stop putting on his mask, leaping on his horse's back and saving every villager in trouble, or else. But the threat of a divorce doesn't stop him.

"Zorro is full of himself. He just likes to be Zorro, like a movie star that goes over the top," says Banderas, player of the hero who is not always super. "He's clumsy and imperfect." And that adds a comic element to The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. "The moment I read the script and read that my wife is going to leave me, I said, 'Oh, this is comedy! He's going to jump in a pool of tequila and we can make the character un-Zorro.'"

"The moment I read the script... I said, 'Oh, this is comedy!'"
- Antonio Banderas on Zorro's second big screen swashbuckle

Instead of drawing a linear, boring run-of-the-mill superhero with a solution to every problem, director Martin Campbell chose to depict a human character who reacts like any man would when he sees his ex-wife dating the newcomer in town, a French aristocrat who is, Zorro claims, more than meets the eye.

Armand (Rufus Sewell) is in fact the secret leader of the Knights of Aragon. One may conclude that France is the new enemy of American cinema, but Banderas laughs. "It was to make the character polite. He's the image of France of that time - educated, polite, who can impress a woman with this stuff."

Even though Zorro is set in 1850, when California wasn't yet a state, the theme is quite relevant to modern times. Besides her relationship problems, Elena takes action into her own hands. "Catherine takes a big chunk of the move, which is perfect, because the movie is more based on family now ... besides the story with the French guy!" He laughs. "He's pissed and he tries to recover himself, his wife, his kid and the mission is to be a father, more than to be Zorro, basically."

Adrian Alonso, the young Mexican actor who plays Zorro's son Joaquin, almost upstaged the Spanish star. "He's a natural actor. He didn't take any direction at all," Banderas says of his 10-year-old co-star, who didn't even speak English. "He did the movie phonetically. It was familiar to me, because that's how I did my first movie in America, Mambo Kings."

"If we're going to do a sequel, we're going to wait seven years..."
- Antonio Banderas needs some R&R

Should we expect to see the young Adrian as his father's successor in Zorro 3? Banderas decides to spill the beans. "I'm going to tell you a secret. We filmed the end of the movie being old and going away, and there's a young boy that's my son, grown up." But the producers, including Steven Spielberg, saw the possibility of another and reshot the ending. "So I think that will be in the fourth (film), not in the next one." A third film will recount the genesis of Zorro: "There was talk about a prequel, about the creation of Zorro, how the character gets born."

But Antonio Banderas isn't in a rush to get back to the Zorro studios just yet. "If we're going to do a sequel, we're going to wait seven years, because I don't know if I can assume the amount of risk." The filming of The Legend of Zorro proved hectic, filmed in the old-fashioned 'blood, sweat and tears' way. "The physical side was extraordinarily difficult," remembers the actor who performed as many stunts as he could.

"At the end, it started weighing big-time on my shoulders. I suppose it was because the script was pushing a little more in that direction and also because I am eight years older than the first one." He may be getting old, but Zorro is still as young - and relevant - as ever. "It continues to be consumed. I think this will bring a new flavour to Zorro."

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