Antonio Banderas On Whether Puss Is Down for Another ‘Shrek’
Mar 10, 2023
After the success of the original “Puss in Boots” movie, Antonio Banderas was pretty sure there would be a sequel to the “Shrek” franchise spin-off. In fact, why wouldn’t there be? The first installment earned positive reviews and grossed $550 million globally off just a $130 million production budget. And Banderas, who voices the swashbuckling feline, was asked about a new movie for years. But the project was delayed, primarily because NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation in 2016.
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“The truth is that I always said, ‘We are going to do it.’ And they were postponing for all of those reasons [mentioned],” Banderas says. “But every time that I went to Los Angeles or they were calling me and saying, ‘Hey, we have a new script, we would let you read it and let us know what you think’ Things like that. But it is 10, 11 years now since the last time. But here we’re again.”
Now, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is in theaters with better reviews than the original and a likely Best Animated Oscar nomination next month. This adventure finds Puss dealing with his own mortality as he is coming close to using up all of his magical nine lives. Not only is he on the run from Death, but the Goldilocks and the Three Bears Crime Family (voiced by Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, and Samson Kayo). Oh, and then there is Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), his love interest from the first film who he left standing at the wedding altar. Needless to say, Puss is having “a moment.”
During a zoom conversation very late West Coast time last month, Banderas discussed returning to his animated alter ego. This particular sequel came with a unique benefit; he could record his performance in his hometown of Malaga, Spain, where he was busy as the artistic director of the Teatro del Soho.
“There’s a studio that is right in front of my theater, and I was performing those days. I was doing a musical,” Banderas recalls. “So, we did the work on Mondays. Sometimes there is a difference between sessions of a month. Sometimes the difference was a week. It depends on how demanding the animators were; just asking for more voices so they can continue working. So, no, it was the natural way that we did it before. I had screens of everybody who is participating. In every session, I have the director, I have the screenwriters, I got the producers, and everybody is there. So, we all talk, and we all work at the same time.”
Usually, Banderas would receive a script of two to four scenes for a recording session that would last no more than three hours. And, often, he would get the opportunity to improvise.
The Oscar nominee notes, “In an improvised session, a new idea appears, and suddenly the people in Los Angeles, they take that idea, and they say, ‘Oh, hold on. This is a good idea. They just go that way.’ It opens the door to something completely new that was not thought of at the beginning. That always happened since we start doing this many years ago, 20 years ago. For me, it was very surprising because I didn’t know how these movies were done. To tell you the truth, I thought the animation was first, and then you incorporate your voice, and you do some lip-syncing, ADR, and that was it. I didn’t know that it was done in the opposite direction, which allowed you to actually be very creative.”
As you might have guessed from the film’s quick synopsis, the storyline is slightly more dramatic than the original. And while absolutely a four-quadrant movie with kids in mind, Banderas feels it “reflects” the current times we are living in.
“Reflections that are a little bit more profound than normal, especially when the character discovers of his nine lives, eight of them has been wasted,” Banderas says. “So, he got only one life to go, and then it starts all this reflection, these panic attacks that he’s suffering. This kind of existential approach to the character that we didn’t have before. That was something that was very attractive to me from the beginning when I read the script. And then we developed that in a very interesting way.”
In something of a surprise, the film opens up the possibility of Puss rejoining his friends Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey in a new “Shrek” film set for 2023. And he wasn’t under any studio gag order not to talk about it. Especially since it was news to him.
“They didn’t tell me, ‘You shouldn’t say anything or blah blah, blah.’ Because I don’t know anything. So they didn’t have to do it. No, I don’t know [that scene was in the movie]. It was surprising to me because when I saw the movie three or four weeks ago and I saw the ending, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ So, I was the first one surprised that was not in the script.”
Banderas then adds, “I think it would be a very smart decision if you just said, bring back all of those characters that I’ve really loved, and they’re part of the American pop culture through the big screen. Again, the Puss was born in number two of those movies, so it would be a beautiful experience just to go back and work again with those guys.”
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is now playing nationwide
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