Antonio Banderas is earning Oscar buzz just two years after he had a heart attack that changed his perspective on life and career

Antonio Banderas is back in the Oscar game two years after he survived a heart attack.

The actor, 59, stars in Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory as a film director who finds himself reflecting on the choices he’s made in his life as his past and present collide.

Banderas is earning Oscar buzz for his eighth film with Almodóvar — something the actor is grateful for, especially after his health scare.

“When something like that happens to you — you see death face-to-face — a lot becomes very clear,” Banderas tells PEOPLE of his heart attack in this week’s issue.

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Antonio Banderas Pain and Glory
Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory
| Credit: Manolo Pavón/Sony Pictures Classics

The actor took stock of what mattered most to him: “family, friends and recovering the actor I once was.”

By all accounts, Banderas has recovered his inner actor as he receives some of the best reviews of his career for Pain and Glory.

He also stars opposite Meryl Streep in The Laundromat, which streams on Netflix Oct. 18.

Besides working, Banderas loves to spend time with his family, including ex-wife Melanie Griffith, who he calls his “best friend.”

“Melanie is not my wife anymore, but I think she is my best friend,” he says. “I love her and will love her until the day I die. She’s my family.”

Pain and Glory is now playing in select theaters.