Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas was born in Malaga, Spain on August 10, 1960. He studied theater at the School of Dramatic Art in Malaga and began his career working with an independent theater company there. In 1981, he moved to Madrid and worked in theater and television, which led to his debut in Pedro Almodovar’s Labyrinth of Passion. It was Almodovar who picked his artistic name. Antonio filmed several films under Almodovar’s direction, including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. and Tie Me Up!
Tie Me Down! , for which he received Spain’s equivalent of a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Banderas made his American film debut starring opposite Armand Assante in the 1992 release, Mambo Kings. Banderas says that he will never be able to thank Arnie Glimcher enough for what the actor calls “the courage” to cast him. At the time, Banderas knew only a handful of English words but through “total immersion” and 8 hours a day of English lessons he learned the language to the point of dreaming in English.
His role as the soulful Cuban musician/composer Nestor Castillo was his breakthrough into American movies and English-speaking roles. Since then, he has been working non-stop. His other films include The House of the Spirits with Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close and Winona Ryder; Isabel Allende’s Of Love and Shadows; Miami Rhapsody, starring opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Mia Farrow;Assassins with Sylvester Stallone; Never Talk To Strangers with Rebecca DeMornay; and the comedy Two Much in which he plays the dual role of Art and Bart Dodge.
The film also stars Antonio’s real life love, Melanie Griffith. The film Desperado in which he plays a Mexican musician or Mariachi seems to be his consolidation as the most prominent Latin actor in the United States. Antonio also appeared in Robert Rodriguez’ segment of Four Rooms, an anthology project featuring work by four progressive directors: Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Allison Anders, and Alexandre Rockwell.