Position: header-c
Style: standard outline

PUSS IN BOOTS Ground-Breaking with Two Latino Leads

Not too long ago, studios were still using non-ethnic actors to voice Hispanic characters as they did in 2000's The Road to El Dorado which featured the voices of Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branaugh as main characters Miguel and Tulio.  Edward James Olmos and Rosie Perez had supporting roles in the Dreamworks animated film.  Twelve years later, a major Hollywood movie now features two Latino actors in major roles which perhaps is a first for an animated film.

At a recent press event with Antonio and Salma for PUSS IN BOOTS, Antonio told CineMovie when he first came to America, he was told he would be stereotyped into playing one particular role because of his strong accent.

"You’re gonna play bad characters. You’re gonna be the bad guy in movies."
Antonio Banderas now has the last laugh as the lead in Dreamworks' 3D animated film.  Not too bad for a Spanish actor who came to Hollywood not speaking one word of English. After starring in Pedro Almodovar films in Spain, Antonio landed a role in Mambo Kings (1992) as Nestor Castillo and learned his lines phonetically.  He went on to become a leading man in The Mask of Zorro and Desperado with his co-star and former Mexican novela star Salma Hayek.  He gained even more popularity with younger generations with his Spy Kids role and the adorable kitty-kat in the sequel to Shrek (2004).  

Now he's starring in his own spin-off with PUSS IN BOOTS opposite another actor known for her accent. Banderas and Hayek's first collaboration in Desperado was also ground-breaking as stars of an action film directed by Robert Rodriguez. In 1995, Desperado opened in second place with $7.9 million at the box office behind Mortal Kombat.  While the film achieved respectible success at the box office, Rodriguez, Banderas and Hayek's careers got a major boost.

Antonio Banderas needed a partner in crime for his spin-off to the Shrek franchise so he brought in his frequent collaborator to voice Kittty Softpaws in PUSS IN BOOTS.  Antonio probably had enough influence to convince Dreamworks to cast two Latinos with accents.  Antonio says the shift in Hollywood is partly due to educated Latinos joining the business ranks and making the difference.
"In these 21 years everything’s changed very much. In a way it’s a reflection of what’s happening in society. There were many generations of Latino people coming from difficult political situations in their own countries and they worked very hard to make their kids go to universities. Those kids came out and they are now doctors and architects, and they are in banks or in the Supreme Court. That has a reflection in Hollywood."
Salma Hayek joked at the press conference that her secret to success in Hollywood has been her "piggybacking" on Antonio's career.
"I just feel very lucky that I’ve been able to piggy ride on Antonio’s superstar career. Thank God he is doing so well because every time he gets a movie I get a something, even if it’s a cameo, to sneak in it. I think that’s how things happen. I’m sure somebody else, my double, is going to sneak in that one because of it. It’s a good chain effect. I’m very proud to be part of this movie."
The gamble paid off for Dreamworks as PUSS IN BOOTS opened at the top of the box office the first weekend.  This time, Dreamworks was perhaps careful not to make the same mistake as with The Road to El Dorado and hired Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim) to act as a supervisor, according to Banderas, to ensure the authenticity of Puss' Latino world.

Hopefully the success of PUSS IN BOOTS carries over to other Hollywood films.  PUSS IN BOOTS is currently playing in movie theatres.

Watch Interviews

Latest Trailers

Meanwhile On Instagram