Antonio Banderas stars in Take the Lead, based on the life of Pierre Dulaine, a ballroom dancer who volunteered to teach in New York City public schools. Can swashbuckling Zorro handle a paso doble? PEOPLE spoke with Banderas, 45, a native of M laga, Spain.
After rehearsing for this movie, could you win Dancing with the Stars?
I don’t know the structure of that program. I just use my TV to watch movies, news and sports. But no, I don t think so. I would do my best, but I don t think I would win.
How did you prepare for Take the Lead?
My house was built in 1925, and it has a ballroom and a place for an orchestra. So we cleared out the furniture and made a dancing school. I rehearsed there.
What’s tougher: Zorro‘s swordfighting or dancing in Take the Lead?
Zorro was very hard. It was five months of horseback. If I wasn t busy doing one thing, they had me learning stunts. It was exhausting.
Do you and your wife, Melanie Griffith, tango at home?
No. We dance sometimes, at Christmas and holidays. We love boleros, and they’re easy to dance to.
Your daughter Stella (age 9) is here. Does she have rhythm?
Yes, she does.
So it runs in the family?
Yes. She is beautiful too.
The movie has an uplifting message. Are you religious?
I have to recognize that I am agnostic. I don t believe in any kind of fundamentalism. I prefer to take life in a different way, with a sense of humor. I try to teach my kids to be open. Whatever they believe is fine with me.
The women at your press conference said, ‘He smells so good!’ We must ask: What are you wearing?
I wear my own cologne – ‘Antonio.’ I started working with a company in Spain called Puig 12 years ago, and we developed four perfumes. The newest one is called Antonio. Last year we won a FiFi award – the Oscars for perfume!