“She’s my daughter, I love her.” Why Antonio Banderas Makes a Point of Not Calling Dakota Johnson His Stepdaughter
Dakota Johnson grew up surrounded by love. In addition to her mum and dad, who managed to maintain a warm relationship after the breakup, another parent came into her life: her stepfather Antonio Banderas. It was he who, once upon a time, opened her up to the world of cinema and showed her what it was like to live with a Spanish passion. Having achieved success in her profession, Dakota always thanks her “bonus dad” for his support. And this reverent relationship between stepfather and stepdaughter is endearing even to the most hardened of cynics.
“I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky. I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life,” Dakota Johnson once said about Antonio Banderas. The Spanish actor met her mother, Melanie Griffith, on the set of the movie Two Much. Their decision to be together was lightning-fast. At the time, Griffith had two children from previous relationships.
Banderas was able to become a real part of this family. According to the star, the children saw his adoring attitude toward their mother and over time started to see him as a second father, sweetly calling him “Paponio” — a mixture of the words “Papi” and “Antonio.” Their stepfather brought a little Spanish craziness to their steady lives, says Johnson. Most importantly, he taught the children discipline.
In 1996, the family celebrated the arrival of another daughter, Stella. Banderas, who had recently been childless, became a dad of three all at once. In addition, he soon faced the complexities of adolescence. Like all teenagers, Alexander and Dakota demanded freedom, but the stepfather was unshakeable. At that moment, the actor realized his job was not be their friend, but a person who would keep them safe.
Antonio and Melanie’s popularity was another difficulty to overcome. Their son and youngest daughter couldn’t stand the public’s attention. Dakota, on the other hand, was different; she quickly accepted her position of always being in the limelight. Antonio admired his stepdaughter’s wisdom.
A guide to the world of cinema
Banderas was the first to spot young Dakota’s acting talent. He invited her in 1999 to appear in the film Crazy in Alabama, which he himself directed. In the script, the girl had only a few lines, but she was so serious about her work that she demanded an acting tutor.
Johnson recalls that working on the same set with her mother and stepfather was incredibly fun. The only thing that upset the young talent was that she had to look after Stella, who at the time was very young.
Is talent inherited? It’s unlikely, although its individual components may well be. Dakota says that she got her strength and dignity from her grandmother, and her humor from her mother. She learned respect from her biological father, but everything vibrant and bright in her seems to come from her stepfather. Thanks to him, she learned to understand Spanish, and to love flamenco and jamón.
Moreover, Johnson considers her stepfather to be one of the greatest actors of our time. She realized this only when she became an adult and immersed herself in the profession. And the important thing in Banderas, according to Dakota, is that he never gets tired of trying to improve himself.
But most importantly, he revealed to her the magic of the film world. Antonio once said of his stepdaughter: “She’s my daughter, I love her. I’ve been with her on my shoulders, traveling all around the world.” Yes, he insists on calling her his daughter, and is as proud of her success as if she were his own. When the actress first became famous, he shared his professional opinion about her talent. Banderas stated that she was a multi-faceted artist, she just needed an opportunity to show it.
They’re still a family
After almost two decades of marriage, Griffith and Banderas announced their divorce in 2014. The couple maintained that they were parting in a loving and amicable manner. Similar phrases are often used by celebrities after their relationship breaks down. But for this couple, they weren’t just empty words. They really did stay together as a family, continuing to meet up just for a chat, or to mark a celebration.
Antonio says that looking at their children, he realizes for sure that it wasn’t for nothing that he and his ex-wife lived together for so many years. It was definitely worth it. During a red carpet event, Banderas was asked how he feels about his ex-wife now. The actor replied without hesitation, “I will love that woman until the day I die.”
The divorce had no effect on Banderas’ relationship with the kids. They often meet up in day-to-day life, go out together, and accompany each other on the red carpet. They also dedicate touching speeches to each other while receiving film awards.
In 2019, Antonio was awarded the Hollywood Film Award for his role in Pain and Glory. With Dakota presenting him with the statuette, he dedicated the win to his two daughters: “I want to dedicate this to two people that I love, one is right here, Dakota, for something very simple, because you always call me papi, and still now you call me papi and I love that! You have no idea how much I love that!”
Today, says Banderas, Dakota has become successful, which means she’s always busy. In actors’ schedules, it’s not easy to find room for each other, and yet Antonio has no doubts about when he will see his stepdaughter again — it will be at Christmas. It’s a family holiday that they’ve always celebrated together, and they don’t intend to break the tradition.
Did your parents influence your career choice? If so, how?