Antonio Banderas feels like he still has Pablo Picasso under his skin. The Malaga actor explained on Thursday, before the world premiere of the National Geographic Series, Genius: Picasso, that filming much of the series in Malaga had been a gift for him, and for Picasso himself. The series had given the artist the return trip to his home city that he never had in his lifetime.
The actor described a sense of frustration at the fact that Picasso had died three years before Franco and “couldn't take one last walk along La Malagueta [beach] to receive applause from his people”.
It was Banderas who convinced the producers to film in Malaga, in the artist's birthplace and on the Misericordia beach (for a scene set in France).
Hosting the premiere of the series at the city's Cervantes theatre on Thursday evening was also part of Banderas' dream to make the artist's birthplace an important player in the series and “bring him home”.
Before arriving in Malaga for Thursday's premiere, Banderas and National Geographic launched the series at a press conference in Madrid. There, he and series director Kenneth Biller, offered more information about the series, which has been filmed entirely in English.
The young Picasso is played by actor Alex Rich and Banderas takes over from the age of 40.
From the outset the producers, Oscar-winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazier, and the director knew they wanted Banderas for Picasso.
“When we finished filming the series on Einstein we started looking at figures for the next one. When we decided it was going to be Picasso, I said, almost as a joke, that we had to have Antonio Banderas. From the very first moment we agreed it had to be him. And we didn't even know then that he was from Malaga. Ron and I got on a plane to meet Antonio and we discovered he had a great passion for the painter and knew all about him. We wanted authenticity and only he could give that,” said Biller.
The actor could be forgiven for still feeling half Banderas, half Picasso. He admitted in Madrid that just last Friday he was still filming a scene in which he has an argument with Dora Maar, Picasso's muse and lover.
“Both of us were born in Malaga, then left and became famous. Him more so [he laughs]; but above all we are similar in terms of the enormous sacrifices and capacity to work hard,” the actor explained on Wednesday in Madrid.
With Thursday's premiere, which was attended by representatives of National Geographic, Fox and cast members, among other guests, out the way, Banderas is now concerning himself with the weather forecast for this weekend.
Palm Sunday is when the actor's Holy Week brotherhood goes out in procession in the streets of Malaga, a date that Banderas never misses.