Desperado star Antonio Banderas, 51, graces the November issue of AARP and opens up about family life with Melanie Griffith, becoming a stepfather, and the secret to their successful high-profile marriage.
On becoming a stepfather: “It was hard because the kids had to accept me, and I was totally inexperienced. Suddenly I had a 6-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy, and Stella came along almost immediately. I was, “Oh, my God!” But as soon as the kids knew that I was there to stay, they were fine. They needed solid ground in which they could grow. As soon as I realized that, I started establishing my relationship, giving them security, little by little doing the father thing. It took less than a year for them to realize that I was not temporary. [Now] hey call me Paponio — Papa and Antonio. But Dakota is 22 already, and she’s making movies. And Alexander is 26 and living in New York. And Mama and I have been together for 17 years now.”
On the secret to their successful marriage: “The secret is that we had failures before. And love at the beginning is a rush. It’s big, full of energy, beautiful. But it doesn’t last like that. Melanie and I talked about that a lot. Are we going to make the mistake of looking back for that thing all the time? Or are we going to look ahead and create universes that are different? We made the second choice. That thing at the beginning disappeared, but it became something better. We discovered the value and warmth of family, and what is home — that we can be stronger together. That thing that you thought was gone comes back again, and you fall in love again. Even in crisis, we have been patient enough to detect that at the end of the tunnel was a light. We have had as many problems as anybody. We’ve never hidden it. We’ve been open about addictions, in the case of Melanie. She has overcome her problems beautifully. I didn’t know she was so strong. It makes me love her even more, because she has been an unbelievable lion fighting, and she got it. The last [relapse] was three years ago, and it just welded us.”
On being open with the kids: “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.”
Continue reading the interview with Antonio at AARP…