10. Original Sin: This 2001 romantic thriller had Banderas starring opposite Angelina Jolie. Set in 19th century Cuba, Banderas played a wealthy man, who fell for his American bride (Jolie) but she wasn’t all she appeared to be. Banderas and Jolie set the screen on fire in this erotic thriller, which further proved Banderas’ sensuality on screen.
9. The Mambo Kings: This 1992 musical drama was an adaptation of Oscar Hijuelos’s 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love and Banderas’ first English Language role. In this film, moviegoers, especially female ones, got their first glimpse of the talented and seductive future film sex symbol. Set in the 1950s, Banderas co-starred with Armand Assante, as Cuban brothers, who were also musicians. Banderas, with his broken English, revealed his musical talent along with his acting prowess. Banderas’ character ends up dying at the end of the film, which also showed his flair for the dramatic.
8. Take the Lead: In this 2006 musical drama, Banderas portrayed Pierre Dulaine, a real-life, well-known ballroom dancer and dance instructor. Banderas’ Dulaine takes over a detention program at an inner city school and inspires the students to learn ballroom dancing and better self-esteem. Banderas’ steamy tango with a student from his dance studio undoubtedly made moviegoers yearn to take some lessons of their own. In this role, Banderas showed off his vulnerability in playing a real-life person who made a real difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
7. Two Much: Banderas showed moviegoers in this 1995 romantic comedy, his humorous side as he played Art, a gallery owner who gets involved with the wealthy Betty, played by Banderas’ real-life wife Melanie Griffith, only to end up falling in love with her sister, Liz, played by Daryl Hannah. His solution? Invent a twin brother named Bart. Banderas hilariously fumbled around trying to play two different men in an attempt to win Liz’s heart and not hurt Betty. Joan Cusack played Art’s secretary at the gallery, Gloria, who added her own unique wit to an already sidesplitting situation. This movie proved that Banderas had the comedic chops as well as the dramatic and action skills.
6. Philadelphia: This 1993 drama had Banderas playing Miguel Alvarez, the gay lover of Tom Hanks’ character, Andrew Beckett, who had contracted AIDS through an anonymous one-night encounter with another gay man. Though it was a small role, Banderas portrayed a man standing by his life partner through a deadly illness to perfection. Banderas’ scene with Hanks as Hanks’ character is finally succumbing to his illness was truly heart-wrenching yet poignant. In this role, Banderas proved that small roles can still pack a significant punch.
5. The Legend of Zorro: In this 2005 sequel to the hit 1998 action adventure The Mask of Zorro, Banderas reprised his role as Alejandro aka Zorro, as he fought against the threats trying to keep California from achieving statehood. Catherine Zeta-Jones returned to as Elena, now Alejandro’s wife, who disliked his playing the hero instead of being with her and raising their son. Yet, Banderas and Zeta-Jones’ chemistry is just as palpable as it was in the first movie as their sword-fighting and witty banter prevailed over the bad guys but watch for young Adrian Alonso, who played their spirited son Joaquin, as he held his own with Banderas and Zeta-Jones and stole the movie.
4. Once Upon a Time in Mexico: This 2003 action film was the sequel to 1995’s Desperado, which was written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It had Banderas back as the troubled El Mariachi now embroiled in international espionage and seeking revenge on a corrupt general. The back-to-back explosions and furious gunplay are a backdrop as we see Banderas portray a plagued El Mariachi following the devastating events following Desperado. Banderas’ depicted El Mariachi’s pain with haunting accuracy as the body count rose and moviegoers were reminded of how well Banderas does action.
3. The Mask of Zorro: Banderas brought the swashbuckling hero of Zorro to the silver screen in this smash 1998 romantic adventure. Co-starring with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Banderas’ sexy demeanor jumped off the screen as he became the champion of the people. His magnetism with Catherine Zeta-Jones was undeniable as Banderas brought heart and soul into the beloved hero.
2. Desperado: This 1995 actioner was written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It was the sequel to 1992’s El Mariachi. Banderas played El Mariachi, a man hellbent on revenge against the drug lord who killed the woman he loved. Banderas played it cool as he killed anyone in his way. This movie introduced moviegoers to Latin actress Salma Hayek, as Carolina, who helps El Mariachi in his quest. Hayek and Banderas scorched the screen with their white-hot chemistry as both lovers and a shoot ‘em up duo. Banderas displayed El Mariachi’s vulnerability when he learned the man he was after was in fact his brother, who he reluctantly shoots and kills when he threatens Carolina’s life. Here, Banderas displayed his penchant for action mixed in with some deep emotion.
1. Assassins: This 1995 action bonanza had Banderas playing assassin Miguel Bain going up against fellow assassin Robert Rath, played by Sylvester Stallone. Banderas and Stallone’s characters play mind games with each other as both are assigned to kill Julianne Moore’s character, a computer hacker named Electra. Banderas played the psychopathic Bain extremely well melding old-fashioned cold-blooded behavior with some twisted humor. One of Banderas’ early action films, it solidified his stance as a true action superstar.