Interview: Antonio Banderas On Turning Down Madonna, Playing Cards With Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Working With Pedro Almodovar Again

Antonio Banderas: 'It Was Flattering, But I Didn't Want To Be Madonna's Boy'

Antonia Banderas' wild erotic collaborations with Pedro Almodovar made him one of the world's most desirable men, and a major international star - now, after 20 years, he is back with the famed director.

In the September issue of Harper's Bazaar (on sale August 6th), the smouldering star talks sex scenes, his special relationship with director Pedro Almod贸var and misunderstanding Madonna.

On working with Almod贸var again after all these years:

"He called us a couple of months before we started doing the film. He was trying to say, 'OK, you're coming from America with a lot of ideas - forget about them'. He's a very difficult director to work with which is good. I wouldn't criticise him for that. He imposes his personality, and it's difficult to escape the tremendous gravity that he has."

On why it has taken so long to work with Almod贸var again:

"Maybe it was my fault, or the fault of Hollywood. There was a time when actually I couldn't work with him, because I was literally signed on for two or three years in advance to Hollywood films and I would have been sued if I had dropped out."

On his mentor Pedro Almod贸var:

"Pedro hasn't changed. I learn something new everytime I work with him. He opened my mind through the movies we did together. It's great to know that Almod贸var is more Almod贸var than ever...being directed by him is hell...but it's a very creative hell!"

On his friendship with the other Hispanic actors in Hollywood:

"We play games. We love that. We play one called 'Wolves' [a murder mystery role- playing game for actors]. Pen茅lope, Javier and now Eva Longoria comes too. We get together once a week. Pen茅lope and Javier are both very good at Wolves. I have seen Pen茅lope doing things that you wouldn't believe to win, picking huge fights with dear friends of hers, unbelievable!"

On making that sex scene with Victoria Abril in 1990's Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down:

"I can tell you that it was very, very sexy to shoot that scene. For both of us. We stayed six hours in that bed, and Victoria is a very open-minded woman. There was a lot of humour in it. We had chemistry, we were not afraid of touching, of kissing, of anything, of our own sexuality, of our own bodies, so we just jumped into that scene with tremendous generosity on both sides. Obviously you are surrounded by people, it's kind of weird, but I remember that scene as a celebration of sex."

On meeting Madonna:

"Antonio,' Pedro said, 'she would love to get to know you'. I couldn't speak English at the time. She said a lot of things at the table when we were having dinner, I couldn't understand shit. I was just flipping out that I was sitting down close to Madonna. She was very famous already, and we were just local people.

On turning down Madonna's advances:

"...it was kind of flattering when somebody said, 'She likes you, a lot'. I said, 'Oh, really? I've no idea what I should do about this, I mean, I'm married [to his first wife, Ana Leza]. So, nothing happened."I was afraid of it at the time, because she was a very powerful woman. I didn't want to be Madonna's boy. For good or for bad, I just wanted to have my own career."

The full interview is in the September edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine, on sale now.

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