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Antonio Banderas on leaving Hollywood: I had to return to a much more real world

Antonio Banderas attending the premiere of his new film Pain & Glory (Ian West/PA)
Antonio Banderas attending the premiere of his new film Pain & Glory (Ian West/PA)

Antonio Banderas has said he abandoned Hollywood for Surrey because he needed to return to “a much more real world”.

The star, 58, left the US four years ago after starring in a string of blockbusters including The Mask Of Zorro and Spy Kids, and voicing Puss in Boots in the Shrek series.

Banderas, who now lives in the village of Cobham with his girlfriend Nicole Kimpel, described Hollywood as “a factory” albeit one with a “very well done product”.

Antonio Banderas and his girlfriend Nicole Kimpel
Antonio Banderas and his girlfriend Nicole Kimpel (Ian West/PA)

He told PA he had decided to return to Europe because it was more “critical” and “down to earth”.

Speaking at the premiere of Pain & Glory at London’s Somerset House, he said: “I came back to a much more real world. Hollywood is a place that I am very thankful for.

“They treated me beautiful and from a personal and professional life in America, I have to be very thankful of what happened there.

“But Europe is more critical. It is more down to earth. I kind of needed that. I was looking for that again.

Antonio Banderas and co-star Penelope Cruz
Antonio Banderas and co-star Penelope Cruz (Ian West/PA)

“Not just in England but Europe in general, Spain included, and the countries I have been working in. We have been working in Italy, we have been working in France.

“We are not so much a factory as Hollywood. Hollywood is a factory that has a very well-done product.”

He jokingly added: “But Europe… Europe is another type of wine.”

His Hollywood exit came after his ex-wife Melanie Griffith filed for divorce in May 2014, citing irreconcilable differences.

Banderas stars alongside Penelope Cruz in Pain & Glory, a semi-autobiographical drama by long-time collaborator Pedro Almodovar, the director behind Volver and Julieta.

He plays Salvador Mallo, a film director in decline who, through a series of re-encounters, comes face to face with his past.

Fellow Oscar-winner Cruz, who starred in Almodovar’s acclaimed Volver, plays his mother.

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