Who: Oscar-nominated actress Melanie Griffith, 61, and Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actor Antonio Banderas, 58.
How They Met: Banderas was enamored with Griffith from the first moment he saw her, at the Academy Awards in 1989 (which she attended with then-husband Don Johnson). “I saw this beautiful woman with a cream dress, with pearls,” he recalled, soon after asking Spanish director Pedro Almodovar who she was.
But as for their first conversation? “The first thing he asked me was my age,” Griffith told AARP. “I said, ‘That’s the rudest thing anyone has asked me first.’ But there was something about him.”
Six years after Banderas first laid eyes on his wife-to-be, fate threw the pair together once more when they were cast alongside Daryl Hannah in 1995 rom-com Two Much. Both parties were married at the time — Melanie to actor Don Johnson (for the second time), and Antonio to Spanish actress Ana Leza.
“It was very, very fast and very compulsive, but at the same time, we were tied at the time,” Banderas said of their dynamic on set. “We tried as much as we could to be respectful. We just thought this may be one of those, you know, infatuation moments that we have when we shoot movies because we got to play together a couple, so let’s just go home.”
And though Griffith was accused by Leza of “stealing” her husband, she and Banderas wed in 1996. Soon after, they welcomed a daughter together: Stella Banderas (now 22).
Why We Loved Them: No one expected them to last, and while they ultimately didn’t, they spent nearly two decades trying. Early on, they even weathered hurricane Madonna together — the pop singer (and Banderas’s Evita co-star) made her interest in the actor evident, but Griffith foiled her plan.
In fact, the drama got so overblown in the press that Melanie said she was banned from the Evita set. “Madonna was after him publicly,” she told Larry King in 2002. “I was pregnant when he was doing Evita. I was pregnant — I had just gotten pregnant, and I went with him. So the press made a big thing about how Melanie’s watching over Antonio and she won’t leave him alone with Madonna because she’s afraid that Madonna’s going to — the “Material Girl” — will steal him. And — it really wasn’t the case.” Once the story got out, Banderas’s co-workers turned against Griffith. “I was hurt because I was banned from the set. They didn’t let me go on the set,” she continued.
Drama aside, nothing ever happened between Madonna and her co-star. “I wished,” Madge said of hooking up with Banderas. “I had a big crush on him,” she told Howard Stern in 2015, “[but] he was with Melanie Griffith. She never left his side.”
When They Peaked: Happy family Melanie and Antonio was hands-down the best iteration of the pair. Regardless of what was going on behind the scenes, they sure looked thrilled when the whole fam hit the red carpet together.
The Break Up: Melanie and Antonio announced their “loving and friendly” split in summer 2014. According to a source from People, the couple “had issues for years,” which only grew as Banderas continued to travel abroad for work.
Dissolution of their marriage aside, Banderas retains great love for Griffith. When discussing her recent skin cancer scare, the actor told Entertainment Tonight, “I will love that woman until the day I die.”
The feeling is apparently mutual:
Happy Birthday to my ruggedly handsome ex husband @antoniobanderasoficial ?????? I will always love you?
A post shared by MELANIE (@melaniegriffith) on
Griffith also recently opened up about her history of seizures, which she attributed to the enormous amount of stress she’d been feeling. “I’ve been on a drug for four years … I haven’t had a seizure, which is amazing — but I also got divorced, which I think is the real healer for me,” she remarked. “I mean it! I am not stressed anymore!”
Where They Are Now:
In the four years since his split from the Working Girl star, Antonio’s been seeing 37-year-old banker Nicole Kempel.
Banderas is still collecting accolades from his portrayal of Pablo Picasso in National Geographic’s anthology series, Genius, which aired earlier this year. The coming year may prove to be even more fruitful, with the release of anticipated projects like Pain & Glory alongside Penelope Cruz, Laundromat with Meryl Streep, and Ferruccio Lamborghini biopic Lamborghini: The Legend.
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After four divorces, Melanie is kind of over the whole marriage thing. “I really don’t think it’s relevant for anyone anymore,” she told InStyle last summer, “but especially if you’re 60 and you have four kids and you’re living the life you’ve always wanted. Then why get married? It’s, like, I would love to fall in love and have a romance, a relationship, but I haven’t. I keep looking. I’ve had a couple of lovers but not a relationship.”
And though Griffith has taken a step back from the industry in recent years, her legacy remains more relevant than ever: Working Girl turns 30 this month.
In addition to Melanie’s daughter with Antonio, she also shares her Suspiria star daughter Dakota Johnson, 29, with ex-husband Don Johnson, and 33-year-old son Alexander Griffith Bauer with her second husband, actor Steven Bauer. She’s also stepmother to Johnson’s son, Jesse, whom he shares with actress Patti D’Arbanville.
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