TORONTO, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Ruggedly handsome in a neatly trimmed beard, Antonio Banderas was playful and talkative as he fielded questions from reporters about his latest film "Femme Fatale" during the final news conference of the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I'm very happy with the film actually. It's very daring. It's almost punk," Banderas said of writer/director Brian De Palma's most recent endeavor.
A contemporary, stylized film noir featuring former model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the seductive, manipulating Laure Ash and Banderas as Nicolas, a paparazzo in Ash's dreams who shatters her meticulously constructed world, "Femme Fatale" is a sexy thriller that pops in and out of dream sequences.
It was Banderas' desire to work with De Palma that brought the two together, the director having worked with Banderas' wife, Melanie Griffith, on a couple of earlier films.
"I wanted to work with Brian De Palma, that was my main premise. I wanted to see how he frames, the way he moves the camera, his timing," an animated Banderas said, adding he told De Palma to do whatever he wanted with him.
Although Banderas' complete surrender to De Palma's vision of the film was not immediate. The Spanish actor came to the first rehearsal with a stack of notes thicker than the script about his character and the movie in general and tried to sell De Palma on his ideas.
After listening patiently to Banderas' ideas, De Palma said, "I'm sorry sir that's not the movie I'm making."
In the end, Banderas said he feels De Palma was right especially after having seen the final product.
Banderas' character of Nicolas in "Femme Fatale" is more of a supporting role, but to this international star playing the lead character every time is not his goal.
"It may sound a little tough maybe, but I don't care about my career at all, really. I don't like those actors who are always planning what to do next time and if they do something it's going to go against what they created," he said.
"Those guys might have a better career than me, but also they have less fun than me. I just love to work on things I love. People say to me, 'Why do you do this Spy Kids this is not supposed to be the movie for you' ... but I had a blast. I was actually laughing at myself. That's what I do in that movie. To me it's not a matter of the movie being big or small it's just a matter of having fun working with someone like (De Palma)."
Playfully sticking out his tongue, making cute faces at the cameras, Banderas' speech is rapid and musical, his manner light and open. He appears to be having fun without the apparent boredom so often seen in the demeanor of other screen stars who come out to dutifully promote their films.
"I can speak even faster," he said with a grin.
Not bad for a Spanish-born actor who couldn't speak English and had to learn the dialogue phonetically for his 1992 American film debut as a Cuban musician in "The Mambo Kings."
From there, Banderas, whose international success began with the Spanish films, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!," clinched his first lead role in an American film in the 1995 movie "Desperado," following it up with "Evita," and "The Mask of Zorro."
In 1999, he made his directorial debut starring his wife, Griffith, in "Crazy in Alabama."
The beard, however, is courtesy of his next project currently being shot in Spain, "Imagining Argentina," opposite Emma Thompson.
Tugging on his beard, Banderas said, "I don't do this thing to me without a valid reason. I'm going to shave big time, maybe I'll leave the moustache."
With or without facial hair, Banderas' passion for his work and his life, his ability to laugh at himself, his intense sexual presence, and exuberance is unmistakable.
"Femme Fatale," the closing gala at the Toronto International Film Festival, is due for release on Nov. 8.