In Antonio Banderas‘ latest film The 33 he plays Mario Sepélveda, one of the 33 Chilean coal miners who survived the 2010 mine collapse by staying nearly 200 stories underground for 69 days.
After filming in the mines for nearly two months, Banderas told PEOPLE he was inspired by his real-life character’s “tremendous love of life” and will to survive during those harrowing days.
But what would give Banderas his own will to survive a disaster?
“My kids, my family – the people I love,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “That’s all we have in the end.”
Banderas, 55, says that it’s in times of crisis that people realize what’s most important in their lives.
“Death is the only certainty we have. Everything else is royalty,” he says. “I have seen that in people that are diagnosed with a terrible sickness. And you see a sudden reaction of how much they appreciate life, immediately.”
For much more on Antonio Banderas and the film The 33, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
This sense of revelation and appreciation of life, even in the wake of tragedy, was one of the reasons he decided to do the film.
“From the moment that I read the script, that was one of the biggest attractions, just something as simple as that,” he said. “For me the movie is to remind people how important life is. And to have faith.”
The 33 hits theaters Nov. 13.
• Reporting by JANINE RUBENSTEIN