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The Animated Life of Antonio Banderas

Hollywood's sexiest family man discusses movies, marriage, monogamy and more

Antonio Banderas talks to us about his life as an actor (most recently in Puss in Boots), as a director, as a family man, as a soccer fan, and as a worldwide sex symbol.

Antonio Banderas opens up about family, fidelity and addiction. — Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

Q: When she went back into treatment? How did that weld you?

A: The whole family participated. We did all the therapies together — the kids, everybody. It was a very unique experience, not only for Melanie. It was very rewarding at the end.

Q: Many people want to keep these kinds of problems from their kids.

A: The pretending is the worst, because kids are so smart. They can see through all of those things, and if you don't talk openly about problems, it creates a very dark place. They carry that through the rest of their lives, to their marriages, to their kids.

Q: Who decided to be open with them? You or Melanie?

A: Melanie. She was the one.

Q: Can we talk about fidelity and recent instances in the news of men behaving badly? Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Tiger Woods — what is going on?

A: It has always happened, and it's not just in Hollywood or in Washington. Is it in our genes? Are we monogamous or not? Have we been trying to put men on a path that is not natural? I think men are drawn to the hunting — the psychological reaffirming of themselves in their manhood.

Q: So how do you deal with temptation when you're in a marriage?

A: It's a very, very personal issue how you deal with that. [You have to ask yourself ] if you are willing to damage what you have — your kids, your family, your friends. How do you deal in your sexual life with your wife? How rich can you make it in order to not have to look for something outside your marriage? What other things can you do, in your home? What are the things that you may tell her, or are you going to be always lying? There may be people who don't even allow themselves to watch a movie and say to their wife, "Ah, that actress is sexy," because their wife may get very upset. I think that you should be able to be honest with your wife: "I should be able to tell you that, yeah, sometimes I walk into a party and I feel there are women there that are very beautiful. And you shouldn't be upset. In the same way, you may see a guy who's very attractive." The question is, how much will you stretch that? It's all about balance in life. We all need water, obviously, but I'm not going to drink the pool. [Laughs.] I think it's very important that you know exactly where the limits are.

Q: You had a big birthday last year. How was turning the Big 5-Oh for you?

A: Perfect. Being in my 50s isn't hard for me at all, because I feel good. I think the problems with being older come when your body cannot do what your mind wants. Then, Houston, we have a problem. [Laughs.]

Q: How do you stay fit?

A: I do yoga every morning, then I run for half an hour and take a sauna. And I eat properly. I drink a lot of white tea — it's a very powerful antioxidant.

Q: Is there anything that you would like to do that you haven't done?

A: Oh yeah, but I will die with that feeling. Jumping in parachutes. I would like to be a great piano player. There are so many things, but there's no time in one lifetime.

Q: Are you still a Spanish citizen?

A: Yes. I have what's called an O-1 visa, which allows me to work here.

Q: Have you ever considered becoming a U.S. citizen?

A: I love this country and have 20 years of memories here. My wife and my daughter are American. But I am Spanish. I love my country. And I would have to renounce my Spanish citizenship to become a U.S. citizen.

Q: Do you plan to return to Spain to live one day?

A: I don't know. Melanie and I bought a house in New York five years ago. The ideal for me would be to live six [months in New York] and six [in Spain].

Q: But you live in L.A. now.

A: I know — because of the kids. And because my wife doesn't want to move to New York! [Laughs.]

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