Antonio Banderas in Málaga.


MÁLAGA — “No more Zorros, for me. No more falling off horses,” joked Antonio Banderas, winding up a press conference here held within hours of his receiving a “Golden” trophy at the 20th edition of the Málaga Film Festival.

The actor’s presence at the Spanish film fest, of which he is the honorary president, had been up in the air following a spate of rumors sparked by his new extra slim, silver-bearded look.

“I had become a workaholic,” confessed a gaunt Banderas, flaunting an ashen hairdo reminiscent of a bullfighter’s bun.

Sporting a white Western jacket with gilt buttons à la Versace, from the Antonio Banderas men’s wear line, which is spearheaded by minimalistic Nordic brand Selected, the Málaga-born Banderas loosened up before putting the record straight.

“No two ways about it: I’m convalescent.” After a first heart scare featured in British tabloids last January, he suffered a second attack requiring three-stent surgery in a Swiss clinic. “Nothing dramatic.” But the past two months have been a rough ride.

Banderas revealed that he plans to “re-boost” in Málaga, having moved into a rooftop apartment overlooking the Plaza de la Merced, where both he and Pablo Picasso grew up.

A Carlos Saura Guernica biopic (“33 días”) starring Banderas as Picasso has been off and on for even longer than Danish director Bille August’s Gianni Versace drama, which was expected to start shooting any time now. Hence the rumors that the actor had gone gray to play Gianni, rather than as a consequence of his heart operation.

When “Antonio Versace” enrolled as a fiftysomething student at Central Saint Martins in London a few years ago, style buffs wondered if he was really interested in fashion, or just preparing for the movie.

In Málaga, where he never misses a Semana Santa, Banderas was upfront about his attitude to fashion: “The way we actors dress defines our roles.

“I am opening out toward all kinds of sources of interest, and fashion is one of them.

“I have reached a stage where I only want to be involved in projects that really matter to me, and I find it extremely frustrating when this isn’t possible. Fashion offers me the opportunity to finance such projects, and participate in the writing process. This saves time and money.”

What about the Versace movie? “It’s a project I’m keen to do well with Bille. I worked with him on ‘The House of Spirits.’ At the same time, I’m close to the family, and understand their need for an authentic screenplay, with a rich production, because after all that’s what Versace was about. So, no…shooting hasn’t started yet.”

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