One of the film experiences Antonio Banderas had that gave him some of his greatest fulfillment wasn't a blockbuster at the box office or gave him the chance to play a bigger than life legend. When he was handed a script that would become the movie Take the Lead, he found a role to play that was the real life story of a real superhero – an inspirational teacher, Pierre Dulaine, a Manhattan dance instructor who volunteered his time to teach ballroom dancing to a diverse group of New York inner-city high school students serving detention. Using dance, Dulaine showed these young people that they could turn their lives around and
lead fulfilling lives. Once Banderas read the script and met Dulaine, he was hooked. He was not only impressed with Dulaine, he also saw it as a chance to instill compassion in his own children and inspire hope in other children less fortunate than his own.
“Knowing somebody capable of doing things without expecting anything in return; it’s called being altruistic, and I think that’s something people don’t do nowadays. Everybody expects something in return. I traveled around the world with my family because for me it was important
to show them another reality. So they saw the shantytowns in Buenos Aires, they saw the kids in Mexico, and so they know that these realities also exist. This movie is not going to change the story of motion pictures; it’s not going to win prizes at the Cannes Film Festival or anything like
that. It is just a grain of sand.” He said at the time. “It’s just meant to inform, just to say, ‘Pay attention to this. This is happening.’ Especially in America where in the last 10 or 15 years we've seen things happening in schools that are absolutely dramatic and tragic.” Banderas told Beliefnet. com in 2006.
Banderas told Gesica Magazine that same year there was one particular scene in Take the Lead which had special meeting for him. “I love the scene that I had with the parents <questioning his character’s tactics> because it’s sincere to me. The guy is not trying to solve the problems of the world. The guy is saying, I’m just trying something. Ballroom dancing doesn't kill anybody. Why don’t you just allow me to do this? I’m talking about dignity, self-respect and manners. Something that is very superficial apparently but can be making the life of people a little bit better.”
One thing is certain; there is nothing superficial about Antonio Banderas, a dignified, well-mannered and gifted artist who continues to make the lives of people a little better with every performance.
By Mary Ann Cooper