It’s been 21 years since Antonio Banderas worked with Pedro Almodóvar — the Spanish filmmaker that turned him into an on-screen star.
Now he’s returned to the auteur for the provocative thriller The Skin I Live In and Banderas has barely noticed a change.
“(Pedro) was pretty mature actually in the ’80s when we were doing all of those movies,” said Banderas during a recent interview in Toronto.
“The logical progression for a director like him is searching always for himself and he became more minimalist, more austere and more profound.”
Those are flattering words for the influential two-time Oscar-winner behind such films as Volver and Talk to Her.
Perhaps known best for exploring controversial themes of desire, passion and identity, The Skin I Live In only expands on those ideas.
“This movie is about survival, it’s about identity, it’s about power,” said Banderas.
“Knowing him for almost 32-33 years now, this movie is more Almodóvar than Almodóvar.”
Based on Thierry Jonquet’s novel Tarantula, Banderas plays a plastic surgeon who keeps a beautiful woman hostage as he develops and tests a new artificial skin that is sensitive to touch.
As a modern-day Frankenstein, Banderas was careful not to play it over-the-top.
“He’s one of those characters that your normal tendency is just to go big with him because you can show some acting muscles. But Pedro contained me totally from the beginning.”
While Banderas admits his next movie — November’s big-budget Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots — was certainly fun to make, Banderas insists his love of independent film will never be in jeopardy.
“Movies serve many different purposes,” said Banderas about the difference between Hollywood blockbusters and art-house drama. “(But) people like (Pedro Almodóvar) are needed — people who want to reflect on the human condition and complexities in different narratives and different ways to tell stories.”