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Antonio Banderas Shares How Split From Melanie Griffith Led to His Heart Attack

The actor had a health crisis in 2017 that led to a major life change.

In 2017, Antonio Banderas suffered a heart attack that he says changed his life by setting him on a new course personally and in his career. In a new interview, the 63-year-old star reflected on the habits that he believes led to his medical emergency in the first place, including how he responded to a painful breakup. Banderas explained how he thinks his divorce from long-time partner Melanie Griffith impacted his health, resulting in the heart attack.

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Banderas and Griffith tied the knot in 1996 and were married for nearly 20 years when their divorce was made final in 2015. As reported by People, when they split, the actors said in a joint statement, "We have thoughtfully and consensually decided to finalize our almost 20 years of marriage in a loving and friendly manner honoring and respecting each other, our family and friends and the beautiful time we have spent together."

Banderas said that he threw himself into his work after the split, which he believes led to his heart attack.

"I was coming out of my divorce and was confused," Banderas told Fox News Digital in an interview published Nov. 16. "It was just doing a lot of things. I'm protecting myself and finding sanctuary in work. Making movies one behind the other. It was crazy." Banderas was in six movies that were released in 2017. The 63-year-old continued, "And, so, when I stopped, and I came out of this horse of adrenaline is when my heart said, 'Pow, stop it.' It's not the way. So, do what you want to do."

Banderas knew what to do next. "What I wanted to do is to go back to the beginning. Reset. My reset took me to my hometown," he said. "I bought a theater, which I have now, and I'm having a blast. Success is just do what you want to do in the way you want to do it. And that is exactly what I'm doing right now in my life. And I feel very healthy."

Antonio Banderas at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2022
lev radin / Shutterstock

Banderas owns the Teatro del Soho CaixaBank in his hometown of Málaga, Spain, and runs the Teatro del Soho theater company. But he hasn't given up acting in movies. His recent films include Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Puss in Boot: The Last Wish.

Despite what he went through, the actor has said that the heart attack was one of the best things that's happened to him. "It just gave me a perspective of who I was, and it just made the important things [go to] the surface," he told NPR in 2019. "When I say this, people may just think that I'm crazy, but it's one of the best things that ever happened in my life."

Banderas opened up about the severity of his heart attack a couple of months after it occurred in 2017. According to USA Today, he told Spanish journalists that "it wasn't serious and hasn't caused any damage." But, he also shared that he had to have surgery to have three stents placed in his arteries. He said that "it hasn't been as dramatic as some have written."

As for Banderas' relationship with Griffith today, they are still close friends. In 2018, he told People, "Even if we are divorced, she is my family and I will love her until the day I die. We have been in contact all these years and we managed to do a separation that is very elegant."

Banderas and Griffith welcomed one child when they were together, Stella Banderas. Griffith also has two children, Alexander Bauer and Dakota Johnson, from previous relationships. Banderas added of his and Griffith's tight relationship, "Our kids are enjoying that and that is very important for both of us. Our kids are priority number one."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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