Puss is done living on the edge. With just one of his nine lives left he retired to a domesticated life.
But being introduced to a dog disguised as a cat his adventurous ways are about to take him back in to the action, with the possibility of wishing for his eight lives to be returned.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a carry on from the Shrek franchise shining the spotlight on Puss and his furry friends (and fiends).
We were invited to have a chat with the legendary actor Antonio Banderas, who voices the character Puss in Boots.
STG: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is the new movie from the Shrek universe in over a decade, bringing you back to this iconic character that first appeared in Shrek 2.
Antonio: It’s very interesting because it was in February 2003 when I first voiced Puss. I was in Broadway at the time, doing Nine, and ever since then, I have been busy with this character, somehow.
This last gap in time between movies has been the longest, but I was still in touch with the studio, receiving news from producers about a new script until finally, it happened. So, this was the right time to just pick up Puss in Boots and throw him back into the big screen – the place where he belongs.
STG: The fans are very excited to see him again on the big screen too.
Antonio: I think so, and it’s beautiful to see how the audience has grown with this character. Puss had such a strong impact from the beginning, not only with audiences all around the world but also with critics. I remember how rewarding it was to participate in the Cannes Film Festival in competition with Shrek 2.
I believe the character has grown with the times, and a good example of that is precisely this last movie, which talks about death in a natural way with a positive message about the value of life. That is a lesson that is important for kids and adults all around the world in this particular moment.
STG: The story addresses the fact that Puss in Boots is down to the last of his nine lives as a cat.
Antonio: Well, very early into our story – after fighting a giant and being acclaimed by the people of a beautiful village – he gets killed. Initially, that was not a problem because he has nine lives, but he has been using them up. So, the doctor announced to him that he is down to his last life – which, of course, puts him in a state of being defensive.
Then he decides to cut all his heroic actions and all his arrogance and the different features of his heroic personality and goes to Mama Luna’s Cat Rescue to live with a bunch of little kitties, where Puss lets himself go into a state of semi-depression, you could say. He does not take care of himself and is just living life in a different way. We have never seen Puss in Boots like that before, so left behind, until he starts hearing about this magical wishing star that has landed somewhere in the middle of a forest that might give him the opportunity to recover his lives.
STG: That’s when an exciting new adventure kicks off?
Antonio: Yes, but he also discovers that there are other parties going after the same objective, like Goldie and the Three Bears and Kitty Softpaws is back too.
STG: They are both joined on this quest to find the wishing star by a delightful new character called Perrito.
Antonio: This beautiful character is a dog that is annoying to them at first, but very funny and sweet. Puss, Kitty, and Perrito form that kind of relationship where, even though they fight, they also deeply love each other. Together, they will go through several different adventures, with good and bad experiences that include the possibility of death.
STG: To Puss, death is represented by a wolf.
Antonio: Yes, it’s like a metaphor – something that is coming after you continuously. Puss feels that the presence of death coming very close to him, which gives him a panic attack and leads him to become an almost existential character. So, there are more complexities and depth to this Puss in Boots than we have seen before in previous movies. But, with the help of his friends Kitty Softpaws and Perrito he will understand the real value of life that he took for granted before.
STG: So, how does coming to terms with the fact that he only has one life left to live affect him?
Antonio: Now that he has one life, like the rest of us, he is going to learn a beautiful lesson about the value of life itself and how you have to take care of it, because its existence is everything. So, he learns this beautiful lesson, and the entire movie is about that reflection which transpires through adults and kids. Even more now due to what we have lived with the Covid-19 pandemic. Learning about the values of life through the character of Puss in Boots is a beautiful thing, and it has been a beautiful experience for me too.
STG: What do you think of the new look of the film and specifically of your character?
Antonio: I was in awe of the subtleness and the little expressions that they were able to capture out of whatever I gave them with my performance. It was like a ping-pong game that was increasingly interesting every time that we were advancing in the process. It’s amazing what these cartoonists can do; it’s a completely different level.
They capture complexities that are beyond the standardization of characters – which is one of the things that surprised me. So, when I saw the movie, I was so rewarded, it was a unique experience.
STG: This movie and the main character of Puss in Boots embrace diversity.
Antonio: Being Spanish, I have felt misrepresented and that there was a lack of respect for the community before, but here it’s the opposite. One of the things that I always loved about the character of Puss in Boots is that he is the hero and he has an accent. So, it’s not the bad guys that have an accent for a change, which is deconstructing in a way.
These films have been supporting the idea of diversity, and the fact that the hero has an accent, but the bad guys don’t is very interesting for our community. Especially because this is enjoyed by kids growing up with the idea that they should not establish a relationship between bad things and an accent. When I arrived in Hollywood at the beginning of the 90s, there were not so many Latino actors. I remember I was doing a movie called The Mambo Kings, which was the first film I shot in America, and the Latinos that were working with me told me that if I wanted to stay here, I would have to be ready to play bad guys.
But, you know, several years later I got a black hat, a black mask, a cape, and a sword, and I was the hero as Zorro; whereas Captain Harrison Love, who was blonde with blue eyes and spoke perfect English, was the bad guy.
That is when I thought that maybe things were changing in my community, and I believe they have continued to change over the last 25 years.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish releases to cinemas on the 26th of December 2022.