Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shrek May Be Dreck But Banderas is Boss

Well what the heck, Shrek the Third is getting lousy reviews. The Hollywood Reporter panned it, as did every other review I could get my hands on.

But for me… it’s Puss In Boots that gets my personal review. HOT! GREAT! DYNAMIC!

Just before Shrek the Third was released, as a writer for the local newspaper, I was invited to a roundtable discussion/interview with Antonio Banderas and other members of the press. Click on the picture to hear an MP3 of my final question to Banderas.

Banderas was animated and enthusiastic. The media loved him and his candid nature wooded us all.

So you may not want to see the movie after the lousy reviews, but I’d love to take you behind the scenes to learn more about the man behind Puss In Boots and the animation process that honors the individual more than the script.

Here’s an excerpt from my article which will be featured in the Happy Herald,the good news newspaper, in the June edition.

“The animation process,” Antonio explained, “Is really amazing and much different than regular methods. I go into the studio for a few hours and read my part with my full body expression. I am not with any of the other actors. Actually, we meet each other just for the final scene, where we all sing a song together. We all work independently. The character is animated by replicating my body movements. So when I see the film, I am seeing myself moving as Puss in Boots. It’s incredible. The best part is the evolution of the movie and the characters.

I have been given license to be spontaneous and the script changes according to what comes from my creativity. You know, it is amazing; I have been in America for such a short time and had so much success. This film is so great because I was encouraged to use my natural voice and my natural movement. This is so fresh and so unique.”

Banderas reflected on the difference between performing on Broadway in the acclaimed show Nine,when he performed 14 songs over the span of two hours and forty five minutes -- eight times a week, and doing the voice of Puss In Boots. “When I was in the theater, I was very protective of my voice. I wouldn’t even speak during the day and I was scared to death of getting a hairball. But when I was invited to use my voice and accent and to spit hairballs for Puss, well, this was great. I could let myself go entirely.”

“I don't really care about my career,” Banderas concluded in our riveting interview. “I’ve seen many actors who are always planning what they're going to do next or worrying about avoiding movies that will go against the image they've created. I’ve seen many actors who have been offered great parts, but don’t take them for fear that the audiences’ perception of them will be influenced. These actors are attempting to preserve an image of themselves.

I am different. I am comedian in the old tradition of actors who traveled from village to village and if you have seen my career develop in Americas, it is based on eclecticism. Being an actor is about being willing to change. I have done movies based on social issues, action and adventure. I’ve directed movies, been on Broadway, now I do kids movies in animation. For me, to liberate myself from the constraints of image is the true value of being an actor.”

Maybe when you see the movie Shrek the Third, it will inspire you to animate your life and liberate yourself from roles that no longer suit you. In any event, may you embrace your true voice and be motivated to venture into new territory.