José Antonio Domínguez Banderas (born August 10, 1960), better known as Antonio Banderas, is a Spanish film actor, film director, film producer and singer. He began his acting career at age 19 with a series of films by director Pedro Almodóvar and then appeared in high-profile Hollywood films including Assassins, Evita, Interview with the Vampire, Philadelphia, Desperado, The Mask of Zorro, Spy Kids and the Shrek sequels.
Banderas was born in Málaga, Andalucía, Spain, in 1960 to Ana Banderas, a school teacher, and José Domínguez Prieto, a police officer in the Guardia Civil. He has a younger brother, Francisco. Although the family name is Domínguez, he took his mother's surname as his stage name. He initially wanted to become a professional soccer player until a broken foot sidelined his dreams at the age of fourteen. He went on to enroll in some drama classes, eventually joining a theater troupe that toured all over Spain. His work in the theater, and his performances on the streets, eventually landed him a spot with the National Theatre of Spain.
His acting career began at the age of 19, when he worked in small theatres during Spain’s post-dictatorial cultural movement known as the 'Movida'. While performing with the theatre, Banderas caught the attention of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who cast the young actor in his 1982 film debut, Labyrinth of Passion. Two years later he went on to appear in the director's Law of Desire, making headlines with his performance as a gay man, which required him to engage in his first male-to-male onscreen kiss. After Banderas appeared in Almodóvar's 1986 Matador, the director cast him in his internationally acclaimed 1988 film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The recognition Banderas gained for his role increased two years later when he starred in Almodóvar's controversial Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! as a mental patient who kidnaps a porn star (Victoria Abril) and keeps her tied up until she returns his love. It was his breakthrough role in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, that helped spur him on to Hollywood. Having become a regular feature of Almodóvar's movies all throughout the 1980s, Almodóvar is credited for helping launch Banderas's international career.