He revealed that it gave him clarity and a new perspective of life.
In 2017, Antonio Banderas suffered a heart attack when he was just 56. While this was a huge medical crisis, he firmly believes that this one episode changed his life and reshuffled his priorities. The star who is known for his insanely good looks and charm took time off to reflect on what really mattered in his life. While he could have continued to work on his career to add to the brilliant portfolio of work he already had, he knew something else mattered more than success or fame.
“I suffered a heart attack. When that happens to you, when you see death so close, you make different choices,” Banderas said during a conversation with former co-star Eddie Murphy for Variety Studio: Actors on Actors. “The order of priorities of things you thought were important are not important anymore. What is really important is your daughter, your family, your friends and your vocation. I wouldn’t even say my professional life, my vocation as an actor.”
He has always been a great dad and an incredibly supportive family man. Yet, he wanted to spend the rest of his life focusing on deepening existing bonds and having rich experiences with those that mattered to him. In an interview with Forbes he added, "it’s one of the best things that’s happened in my life. It opened my eyes to understand myself better, to understand my role in life, and to just realize the things that are really important.” He added, “There’s a bunch of stupidities that I considered important before that just disappeared, that just sunk,” he said. “Something changed.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the Pain and Glory actor continued the same chain of thoughts that reveal much self-reflection. "You realize you’re going to die. It was very clear when I had a heart attack two years ago. They say it was one of the best things that happened in my life," he said with a laugh.
"It gives you a lot of clarity, because you say, 'Oh, my God, this is it? It can go this fast?' So, you realize, what is money in a bank? It’s nothing but an intellectual Machiavelli process. But a theater—now a theater you can touch. I can see people there. I can see things happen in there. And that is my dream. We are living in a time in which it seems that whatever is not recorded doesn’t exist. We are recording too much. It’s called selfies, but it’s narcissism. People all day long doing this! And theater, suddenly, has a very interesting and important truth: It’s just me and you, and when this performance finishes, the only thing that you can have is your memory. And that grows in you."
Apart from being an iconic actor, the 59-year-old actor is a thorough family man who, in his own unique way, has redefined the meaning and essence of the word "family." He parted ways with his wife of 20 years Melanie Griffith in 2015, but he still treats her like family. He loves his children fiercely and isn't afraid to show it in loud gestures.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Banderas spoke about the special bond he had with Griffith. "Melanie is not my wife anymore, but I think she is my best friend. I love her and will love her until the day I die. She’s my family," he said.
Not only does he still love his ex-wife but he also loves Griffith's children from her previous marriage Dakota and Alexander, like his own. Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas have one daughter together, Stella Banderas.
In fact, Dakota Johnson paid her stepfather a moving tribute while presenting him the Hollywood Actor Award at the Hollywood Film Awards. "I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky," Johnson continued. "I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life. When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light, a whole new world of creativity and culture and one remarkably magical little sister [Stella] into our family," she said, according to EOnline.
She tearfully added, "My stepfather, Antonio Banderas, burst into our lives. He was so vibrant and so fun and so funny and his English was abstract and we found it absolutely amazing. He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together," she revealed.
Not everyone who goes through a medical crisis comes out of it with a life lesson. Banderas not just got out of it stronger but also used the experience to become a better dad.