Connect with us

Enviroment

Get it right or never go home: Antonio Banderas reveals his fear of Picasso

Banderas is playing the legend in Genius: Picasso, the second season of National Geographic's G..

Banderas is playing the legend in Genius: Picasso, the second season of National Geographic's Genius series; the first, which explored the life of Albert Einstein, was the most watched series launch in the history of the channel and drew 10 nominations for Emmy awards.

Banderas says the opportunity to play Picasso has actually passed his desk several times during his career, but he had previously declined. "I said no before because it was a big sense of responsibility that it came to me that, for whatever reason, I didn't want to accept in other times of my life," he says. "This time I felt it was the right time."

This project, Banderas says, "came with great scripts, with seriousness, with [the brand of] National Geographic, which was giving the entire project all the facts that we needed to create the complexity of a character like this."

In playing him, Banderas says he has discovered that Picasso the man and Picasso the artist were inextricably connected. "His artistic dimension was total linked to his personality, to his personal dimension," Banderas says. "There was no separation between the artist and the person.

"He was not only a man who was very capable painting, drawing the reality, but he put that at the service of the political and social context of his time, a guy who was a visionary and had a long sight for the future and, also, an introspection of himself, a reflection about life itself," Banderas says. "That was very important."

Picasso did not stop being a painter when he left the studio, Banderas adds. "Everything was mixed together in the same pot," he says. "And probably there is a big [lesson] to everybody who became an artist. You cannot separate those two roles. You cannot get comfortable ever."

While the producers are adamant the series is not a hagiography, it does seem to sidestep the complex question of the darker side of Picasso's relationships with women, in particular the claims he was an abusive misogynist.

Banderas claims not to have come across that side of Picasso in his research for the role, but says there was a deeply damaging side to the artist: "There were no masks with Picasso; Picasso stopped loving somebody, he says it," Banderas says. "We have to find a balance to explain all of those stories that happen with [the] women, because they are complicated, they are not simple."

Banderas adds that it is not his task, as an artist, to make a moral judgment on Picasso's character. "I am just trying to take all the facts that we have in our hands and interpret them in the best possible way, trying to give some answers to that," he says.

To prepare for the role, Banderas says he did as much research as he could. "It's been interesting because Picasso, everybody wants to own Picasso or a little bit of Picasso," he says. "In Barcelona, the people think Picasso is from Barcelona. In Paris they say, no, Picasso is French and in Malaga, we still say, no, Picasso was born here.

"At the same time, when you find many people wrote about him, you may be analysing an event that is factual [but] many people talk about the same event in different ways," Banderas says.

"So you have to be very careful, and you have to read continuously in between lines to actually make a composition of what was the reality of what happened to him, the way that he thought, why he made very specific choices," he says.

"[We know] he did something, he said something … what we don't know is why he did that thing and why he wrote that thing or why he said that thing," he adds. "That was a very important thing to me … to actually allow myself to be as honest as I can be with him."

And on top of that, Banderas says, he gave himself permission to be "a little bit creative".

"I think my directors and my producers are doing the same thing for the same reason that Picasso one day took a Velazquez painting, like Las Meninas, a very famous figurative painting, and did his own take on it," Banderas says.

"So we, with all the data and all the information that we have, we have to have a certain margin to give our interpretation of what we believe Picasso was," he says. "That's how I am attacking the character."

And, he adds with a wry grin, there is a lot riding on it.

"It is a lot of responsibility … when you play a character that already existed, it happened to me a couple times in my life before," he says. "But in this particular case, I have to be very careful for the reason that if I don't portray him properly I may not be able to go back to my hometown."

Genius: Picasso airs …

Comments disabled

Michael Idato

Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enviroment

So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn

Advertisement

Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success. (more…)

Continue Reading

Enviroment

Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, P..

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.

Advertisement

"Often in television we're used by lazy writers and producers who can think of nothing more interesting this week than 'let's have her have sex with X' or 'discover she's a lesbian – for an episode'."

Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

Continue Reading

Enviroment

Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Maddow, who hosts her own show on MSNBC, was reading from a breaking news release from the Associated Press that revealed government officials have been sending babies and toddlers to what are being called "tender age" shelters in the US.

The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.

Advertisement

Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

Continue Reading

Trending