al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios, 1988
(Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)
and Director: Pedro Almodovar
Carmen Maura, Julieta Serrano, Maria Barranco, Rossy de Palma,
This film was
nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 1988 and
was the first Spanish film distributed world-wide (by Orion).
Almodovar and his troupe toured the film festivals of Cannes,
Venice, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles.
For Antonio, this
farcical film meant a welcome change from the very dramatic characters
he had been playing. Antonio plays Carlos -- the one man linked
to all of the women. "Carlos is the character that is the link
between all the others, between all those women on the edge of a
nervous breakdown. I am the son of Lucia (Julieta Serrano) and I
want to leave home because I can't stand it. My fiancée is
Marissa (Rossy de Palma) and with her, by chance, I stop on the
floor of Pepa (Carmen Maura), who is the former lover of my father
(Fernando Guillen). There I meet Candela (Maria Barranco), who ends
up being my girlfriend at the end of the movie. He (Carlos) is the
only male character who has contact with them. Carlos is very timid,
very good, he even stutters. His clothes are out-of-style and he
wears glasses. He is a little naive."
This film was a huge
hit in Spain because it had wide audience appeal. There were no
threatening characters and no explicit sex scenes. Many Almodovar
fans consider this to be one of his weaker films because it is light
and lacks Pedro's usual outlandishness. But, this is the movie that
made Antonio Banderas a nationally recognized name.
This is Antonio's
fourth film with Almodovar and his third with Carmen Maura.
the Oscars for the first time and saw his future wife, Melanie Griffith
for the first time too. "She was up for Best Actress for Working
Girl and I remember thinking that she was very beautiful.
She had on a white dress with pearls. For some reason that stuck
in my mind." Antonio also remembers being overwhelmed that
he was in the same building with so many stars.
Antonio also met
a man named Emanuel Nunez who told him about a project that Antonio
might be interested in called The Mambo Kings. Emanuel
Nunez would later become Antonio's American agent.
started filming Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios
in October 1987. The previous July he had married Ana Leza
and she took small roles in some of his films. The marriage
put an end to his wild bachelor days in Madrid. Antonio had
spent nights with his friends bar-hopping, going to concerts,
sporting events, theater and riding motorcycles. Antonio says,
"There were people during this time who told me that
I was a hoodlum and the 'king of the night' in Madrid. I never
went to bed before 6 or 7 in the morning, and you met some
very strange people who would involve you in many things and
mislead you a little."
the star of romantic exploits and was an accomplished flirt.
He had relationships with a considerable number of women.
His friends often discussed his capacity for 'erotic business.'
Imanol Arias, one of Antonio's best friends, says that sometimes
Antonio disappeared for a time and "he suddenly appeared,
and informed you that he had been with a much older wealthy
But, on July
27, 1987, Antonio changed his life by marrying theater and
fine art student, Ana Leza. Pedro Almodovar and Carmen Maura
were witnesses. Antonio's colleagues were not convinced that
Ana was the right woman for an actor destined for success.
But, Antonio says, "The nightlife in Madrid was mine,
mine truthfully. Mine until I met Ana. She happened at at
the right moment that my body was asking me to abandon the
nightlife, the drinking and the whores."
Ana felt the
sting of the criticism. "When somebody so well-liked
with such potential for fascination on the rest decides to
get married, it is incomprehensible. Some prefer to think
it has not happened, that it could not be true. They therefore
searched for complicated explanations that justified the wedding.
I have waited two years and a half to become accustomed to
the idea that it doesn't matter that I don't seem to them
the right person. In reality, the right woman does not exist
for somebody so desired."
Ana and Antonio
separated in April of 1995 after 7 years of marriage. The
marriage ended in divorce in 1996, a short time before he
married his second wife, Melanie Griffith.
Ana Leza in
Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios.