Since 12 March he has been at his Marbella home, travelling there from Madrid after filming of the movie he is making with Penelope Cruz was suspended. His partner, Nicole Kimpel, is ‘trapped’ in Switzerland with her sister Barbara and her father, so Antonio Banderas is sitting out this lockdown on his own. He says the coronavirus crisis is going to affect everybody, but at the same time he is hopeful about the future for Malaga and the Costa del Sol, even though “very hard” times are on the way.
In his many hours of free time he studies, reads scripts and books and, above all, coordinates the social work carried out by the Fundación Lágrimas y Favores, of which he is the founder and president. He has also succeeded in getting the Fundación El Pimpi and La Caixa on board.
Banderas is also working with the Agrupación de Cofradías, the Association of Religious Brotherhoods, with its president Pablo Atencia, who is a good friend.
When we spoke to the actor from Malaga, about 1pm last Friday, he was making a ‘puchero’ soup and after lunch he planned to continue working on distributing materials. With 53,000 euros and the help of his Foundation, Banderas is helping to fight the crisis. They are distributing hundreds of single-use medical gowns, gloves, masks and shoe covers to hospitals, homes for the elderly and pharmacies. They have also ‘armed’ a network of suppliers in the Axarquía area through small companies and individuals: “Every day volunteers collect the items they have made, and people are being fantastic about collaborating. That’s why I say Lágrimas y Favores is out in the streets. Of course it is! We send the material, which is special, and the patterns, and companies and individuals make them. We have created a large network of small manufacturers through Pablo Ruiz de Alba, and they are all working flat out, because yesterday we took 330 gowns to the Clínico hospital, for example. We’re hoping to distribute 30,000 gowns...”.
With regard to distributing medicines, Banderas said about 100 volunteers responded to the call from the Agrupación de Cofradías “and then I spoke to the president of the pharmacies, Francisco Javier Florido, who is a personal friend in Carratraca. The volunteers leave their phone numbers with the pharmacies and when someone needs medicine and can’t go and get it, they ring the volunteers and they deliver it”.
With all this, “I don’t have time to get bored, and it’s comforting to think that I can do something to help others,” he said. “I’m in regular contact with Atencia and the University, with whom we are collaborating on a project. I admire the work the religious brotherhoods in Malaga are doing in these difficult times. As I have said before, their present and future lies in being involved in society, and they have done that and done it very well”.
Asked about what happens when this terrible situation is over, he was very clear: “We’re all going to be affected by this, firstly because of the people who have died or been seriously ill, and many families will be affected. But looking to the near future there is also going to be a negative effect at an economic level, although let’s hope that is temporary. For our socio-economic reality, for Malaga and the Costa del Sol, this is a real blow and to get over it we will all have to make a big effort to regain people’s confidence. That will be essential”.
He also stressed that “individual and collective behaviour during these difficult times will determine whether we come out of the crisis with a feeling of pride or shame. If we all do what is needed, we will be in a much stronger position when we reach the end of the tunnel.”
This “regaining confidence” will mean important measures being taken, because as Banderas said to us, “nothing is going to be the same tomorrow as it is today or was yesterday. I don’t know what others are going to do, but in my companies, to regain people’s confidence, we are going to take very clear steps.
For example at the Teatro del Soho we are going to adopt five measures: first, reduce prices; second, the whole of the theatre will be cleaned and disinfected every day and to do that we are going to acquire special ozone machines. Third, if anyone due to see the show doesn’t feel well on the day we will refund their money or change their ticket for another date. Fourth, if anybody, for any reason, starts to cough in the theatre, staff will give them a mask to put on and fifth, all staff will wear special single-use anti-bacterial suits and gloves which will be changed several times a day. The staff know all this and have accepted it. Just like at El Pimpi, where the kitchens will be disinfected every night and so will the kitchen equipment, cutlery, crockery and glasses, the cooks will wear masks on a permanent basis and the waiters will wear gloves. It will seem strange at first but we will get used to it, and we all have to put special measures into effect because that’s the only way to regain people’s confidence,” he said.
For Banderas, the only positive thing to come out of this is “the amazing solidarity of the people of Malaga and Spain in general, but we also need to take into account what is important, the quality and dedication of our health workers, State Security Forces and the enormous support from the Armed Forces for society. They are all doing a vital job and provide a lesson in sacrifice, constancy and discipline, always there to serve democracy and the Spanish people when they are needed most... I take my hat off to them for what they do”.
To end, Antonio Banderas told us: “Let nobody forget Lágrimas y Favores; it is dedicated to our Virgin, and that is now more necessary than ever... it has been well named, and make no mistake, Lágrimas yFavores is out there in the streets to help people through this”.