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Actor Antonio Banderas says he ‘owes his life’ to a drag queen

Reiss Smith August 19, 2019
Antonio Banderas gesticulating during a press conference

Antonio Banderas at the Cannes Film Festival, where he won best actor. (John Phillips/Getty)

Antonio Banderas has dramatically revealed that a drag queen once saved his life.

The Spanish actor said he was driving a motorbike in 1976 when he got into a serious accident.

“The front wheel of my motorbike went into a ditch and, boom! I hit a car and my head hit the tank,” he told The Independent.

Banderas said his saviour – described as a ‘drag queen’ in a wig and dress – “came from nowhere, got in the middle of the road and stopped a car to take me to hospital”.

Pain and Glory tells story of gay film director.

Forty-three years on, Banderas retold the story while promoting his new film, Pain and Glory, in which he plays a gay character.

Written and directed by his frequent collaborated Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish-language drama sees Banderas play Salvador Mallo, a gay film director who finds himself examining his own past as his health declines.

The performance earned Banderas the best actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Pain and Glory was selected to compete for the coveted Palme d’Or, the highest prize at the festival.

Antonio Banderas compares playing gay to Zorro.

Mallo is the latest in a long line of gay characters for the 58-year-old, dating back to his debut role in Almodóvar’s 1982 film Labyrinth of Passion.

He made his Hollywood breakthrough in 1993 with Philadelphia, in which he played the lover of Tom Hank’s character.

The landmark film is notable as one of the first to acknowledge HIV/AIDS and its impact on the LGBT+ community.

Banderas said that in acting these parts, he has “always tried to be very respectful to the gay community”.

“I’m an actor. I just play the character and try to believe them completely when I’m doing them,” he said.

“I try not to perform them; I try to live them. But, you know, I’m not Zorro, either. I have never been heroic. I run away!”

More: antonio banderas, drag queen, pain and glory

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