Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas returned to the role of Puss In Boots last year for his first spin-off movie to the Shrek franchise, the movie is now on DVD & Blu-Ray.

The movie enjoyed huge box office success and went on to be nominated for Best Animation Oscar.

- Hey Antonio. How are you?

I'm great thanks.

- I'm sure you are. What a wonderful ride it has been for you and Puss in Boots. Back in 2004 when Puss first appeared in Shrek 2 he was, I guess, just a supporting actor. Now here he is front and centre as the big star of his own movie. How do you feel about his rise?

It's great, isn't it? He has his own movie. It is a great thing, but not surprising because he is so interesting and has so many aspects to him. He's a star . He deserves his moment (laughs).

- Did you think Puss had so much potential to be a breakout star all those years ago when you first began voicing him?

Yes. I knew we could do incredible things with him and make people smile. I think the key to the success of his character was when we made the decision early on to contrast the big voice he has with his little body. He's a little kitty cat, but has a huge voice. I think that is a big source of the comedy.

- I always love the integration of fairytale characters in the Shrek, and now Puss in Boots, movies. In this movie we meet Humpty Dumpty. What are other factors do you think make Puss in Boots such a fun, family movie?

First of all, it involves a great story. There are moments where you will laugh and moments when you might cry. Shrek was set in the medieval times with fairytale characters, but in this movie we are more like spaghetti westerns that were so common in the 1960s.

Adults who watch Puss in Boots will definitely notice that. Puss in Boots has a different style to Shrek.

- Puss in Boots also introduces us to Kitty Softpaws, who is voiced by your good friend Salma Hayek.

She is a great friend. Salma is not only a beautiful person and, of course, beautiful to look at, but she has a beautiful voice that is perfect for Kitty Softpaws.

- Who is Kitty Softpaws?

Kitty Softpaws is a beautiful thief. She is also a cat. She steals with her soft hands.

- Does Salma have soft hands?

Yes (laughs).

- When did you first meet Salma?

She is one of my dearest friends. We first met when we did Desperado together (in 1995) and then we worked again on Frida (2002)

- Usually on an animated film the voice actors don't see each other, but in Puss in Boots you spent some time in the studio with Salma. That would have been a treat for both of you.

Oh yes. Usually you go in alone, but in this one we went in together. It was wonderful. The flow is so much better. It can seem contrived when you are in a studio by yourself  doing the voice.

But with Salma there it was so much better because we could improvise and bounce off each other. We are such good friends and have such a great time together, whether it is working on a set or going out to dinner.

Chris Miller understood that and so did Jeffrey Katzenberg. A key part of the film is the chemistry between Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws. I think we added to that by being in the studio together. We laughed a lot.

- There's romantic tension between Puss and Kitty Softpaws. It was a fun aspect to the film.

Yes. It reminds me of the screwball comedies of the 1940s and 50s. You have the male and female leads fighting throughout the movie but you know in the end they will stop fighting the feelings they have and fall for each other. I love that.

- Tell me about Puss. What makes him tick?

He's fearless. He's a hero. He's passionate. He's romantic. He has a big heart and is very loyal and honorable. He's also cheeky. That's why adults and kids love him. He has many admirable characters.

- The quality of animation is superb in Puss in Boots. In one of the first scenes you see a close-up of Puss and you can see every strand of fur on his body. The animation is so intricate and so much better than the Shrek films.

I'm glad you see that. Jeffrey Katzenberg would be very happy with that. He is all about making each movie better. He is very driven with that.

He is a perfectionist. I remember one of the Shrek movies he was not happy with 20 minutes of the movie so he cut it out and they had to start over. That was, like, $20 million worth of work in the trash. That's how much of a perfectionist he is. He wants masterpieces.

- Superman has his cape. Captain America has his shield. Puss has his boots. They are very important to him, right?

Definitely. They are as important as Superman's cape. If Puss doesn't have his boots he's not Puss. He's basically naked. He's not the same.

- When you are out in public do kids come up to you and ask you to do the Puss in Boots voice.

Sometimes, although the little kids don't recognize me. I'll be in a supermarket and it will be the child's mother or father who will say 'This is Puss'.

The kid will look at me strangely and then the mother will ask me to do the voice to prove it. I'll do it and then it clicks with them. You'll see a big smile on their faces.

- Salma tells a story about how you always say the first time you saw her was when she was in a bikini. She was swimming in a pool at a hotel while you were on a break during the shooting of Desperado. Is that true?

Oh yes. How can I forget? (laughs) It was a leopard skin bikini. But, her amazing beauty aside, I love Salma's spirit. She is so determined, but also so funny and warm.

- When did you first discover DreamWorks was thinking about doing a Puss in Boots spin-off?

It was in 2004 and Shrek 2 was at the Cannes Film Festival. At the screening the audience kept laughing whenever Puss would speak. It was this big voice in this little fury body.

People loved it. Jeffrey (Katzenberg) noticed it and I remember we had dinner and he was so happy with the character that he wanted Puss in the third Shrek and, also, he was thinking about doing the spin-off.

- I noticed the great Mexican direct Guillermo del Toro is a producer on the Puss in Boots. What was his role?

To have such a brilliant filmmaker involved was a big plus for all of us involved in the movie. Guillermo came to one of my recordings and he also supervised a lot of the editing.

He also was important in ensuring the movie had a Latin feel to it as our aim was to give it that Spaghetti Western feel.   - Actors often get quite physical when they are recording the voices for characters in animated films to ensure they bring reality to the character. Puss is involved in plenty of action sequences, whether it is sword fights or chase scenes. How physical did you get in the recording booth when you were doing it?

Oh yes. I jump around. I get physical. I actually had a sword to swing around.

- Sounds dangerous.

Yes (laughs)

- Do you enjoy working on an animated movie as much as working on a live action movie? What do you prefer?

I love both. They are different, but also there some aspects that are same. They are both challenging.

From a personal perspective, what makes me so pleased about being the voice of Puss is I never thought I would be called upon to play such a role in a Hollywood movie. English is not my first language.

I knew I might be able to make some Hollywood live action movies, but not animation because of my accent. I am very proud of that. I am also very proud that Salma is also a star of Puss in Boots. I think it is great for us.

- What's the best thing about voicing Puss?

Making children laugh. Nothing makes me happier. Everyone needs to laugh, particularly with what we see happening in the world now. There's plenty of reasons for us not to laugh, but I know when kids - and their Moms and Dads - watch Puss in Boots they will have fun and will laugh.

They can sit back, eat their pop corn or candy, and have a good, safe time. The screenwriters are also brilliant. They know how to make the kids laugh. They know how to make adults laugh. There's different levels of humor that is attractive to all.

- Thanks Antonio.

It's been a pleasure.

Puss In Boots is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now