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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

ND HEY!” An­to­nio Ban­deras jumps up from be­hind the PR girl who just en­tered the room. She laughs and apol­o­gises with faux an­noy­ance. He mon­keys some more: crouch­ing and spring­ing, you un­der­stand, is just the Ban­deras way. Even when he sits down with a cig­a­rette – well, we are in Paris – there are bun­dles of clown­ish mus­cles in play. He twists, he jerks, he beams as he speaks, some­times to em­pha­sise a point, but mostly to en­ter­tain. “It’s good to be silly,” he sug­gests. “Es­pe­cially at my age.”

At 51, with a screen ca­reer span­ning more than three decades, Ban­deras is sud­denly glad to be grey. He had imag­ined he’d migrate to the other side of the cam­era by now; he di­rected his wife, Me­lanie Grif­fit,h in 1999’s Crazy in Alabama and brought a ver­sion of An­to­nio Soler’s English­men’s Road ( El camino de los in­gle­ses) to the Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val in 2006.

Per­haps, though, all that “Latin lover crap” has ob­scured the pos­si­bil­i­ties open to the el­der thes­pian. “With the new Almod­ó­var film, I saw my­self ma­ture in a movie for the first time. And I was like, huh? I’m not ju­ve­nile any more. I never thought or saw my­self in that way. But sud­denly it’s ex­cit­ing. Sud­denly I see the op­por­tu­ni­ties there. I’m not stuck.”

Almod­ó­var’s The Skin I Live In, his first film with Ban­deras since 1990’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, played at Cannes to thun­der­ously pos­i­tive no­tices last year. The freaky Franken­stein fan­tasy was, says the ac­tor, a huge ca­reer mo­ment.

“It was hard,” he says. “He took away all the tricks I’ve learned and ac­cu­mu­lated over the years. Poof. Gone. He wanted me fresh.

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