Madonna May Have Banned Melanie Griffith From the "Evita" Set Over Her Crush on Antonio Banderas
The pop star was very public about her feelings for the actor before they starred opposite one another.
When Antonio Banderas and Madonna were filming the 1996 movie musical Evita, Banderas was married to Melanie Griffith. However, Madonna had a major crush on her co-star, which she had made public years prior. This generated enough fuel to get rumors of a love triangle and a feud between the pop star and the Working Girl actor circulating. Griffith even confirmed speculation about tensions between them when she claimed that Madonna had her "banned" from the Evita set so that she could have Banderas to herself.
Read on to find out more about the messy dynamic, including Madonna's later comment that she "wished" she and Banderas had an affair when they worked together.
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Madonna had a thing for Banderas.
Explicit language in video above.
The 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare documents the star's 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. And her interest in Banderas comes up in the film. They even meet on camera, and she's disappointed to find out that he's married to his first wife, Ana Leza.
"Antonio Banderas is this Spanish actor that I've had a crush on for two years," Madonna says in Truth or Dare. "I've seen every movie that Antonio has ever done. I have to say he's one of the few actors that I was really dying to meet."
Madonna and Banderas met at a party thrown by director Pedro Almodóvar, who frequently works with Banderas.
"I spent the whole week psyching myself up for this party that I'm gonna go to and I have it all worked out in my head: I'm going to make Antiono fall madly in love with me," Madonna says in the documentary. "Only there was this one rather major obstacle that I never really counted on: his wife."
After a clip of the pop star and actor meeting, she says right in front of him, "I've been wanting to meet Antonio for years and I finally get to meet him and he's married."
Griffith said Madonna was "after him publicly."
Banderas and Leza divorced in 1996, and he soon married Griffith, his co-star in the 1995 movie Two Much. It was also in 1995 that production began on Evita.
In 2002, Griffith told Larry King that she knew Madonna was attracted to Banderas. But she also said that it it was blown out of proportion and that the media made it seem like she was going to set frequently to ensure that Madonna and Banderas didn't have an affair.
"Madonna was after him publicly," Griffith said. "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," she added.
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She said she was banned from the Evita set.
Griffith claimed that she was banned from movie's set due to the commotion her presence caused but did not specify who made the call.
"I was hurt because I was banned from the set. They didn't let me go on the set," she said. Asked if Banderas stuck up for her, she clarified that she could go to his trailer but not to where the film was being shot.
Griffith and Banderas stayed together until their divorce in 2015. They have one daughter together, 26-year-old Stella Banderas.
Madonna said she "wished" she and Banderas had hooked up.
During a 2015 interview, Howard Stern asked Madonna if anything had ever happened between her and her Evita co-star.
"I wished," she said. "I had a big crush on him. He was with Melanie Griffith. She never left his side."
Banderas thought it was a "joke" when Madonna first called him.
Banderas opened up about Madonna's feelings towards him in a 2019 interview with The Jess Cagle Show. He said she called him to tell him that he was in Truth or Dare and that he had "no idea" he was going to be part of the movie before then.
"She called me," he said. "I thought someone was just making a joke at me, because I picked up my phone in my hotel room and it was Madonna. I couldn't believe it. She said, 'Listen, I want to show you this documentary that you are in,' And I said, 'What documentary? What are you talking about?'"
Banderas said that the pop star told him that she could have him edited out if he wanted. He told her that wasn't necessary.
Almodóvar said Madonna told Banderas first wife to "get lost."
In a 2020 essay published by IndieWire, Almodóvar shared the story of his connection with Madonna. He said they met when she invited him to the set of her 1990 movie Dick Tracy. Then, when she was in Spain, he organized a party for her and invited Banderas. He said she told him the camera that was following her was "for a keepsake" rather than filming for a documentary. He also said that the "Lucky Star" singer "treated [them] like simpletons."
"I promised her that Antonio would be there, but I didn't tell her that I couldn't invite him without his then-wife, Ana Leza, a huge fan of the singer," Almodóvar recalled. "Madonna decided how we had to be seated … Naturally, she sat at the main table, with me on her right and Antonio on her left. And she sent Ana Leza to the table furthest away in that great salon."
He also claimed, "At the end of the dinner, Ana dared to get close to our table and told the divine blonde sarcastically, 'I see you like my husband, it doesn't surprise me, all women like him, but I don't mind because I am very modern.' To which Madonna replied: 'Get lost.'"