By Kim Williamson
Zorro: It's a name with a long cinematic
history. Douglas Fairbanks originated the bigscreen version with his 1920s
silent efforts (see our Big Picture, page 226), and in all, by film
director Martin Campbell's count, 30-some Zorros have slashed their way
across the silver and small screens. (Including, says Campbell, a Zoretta,
plus a 1975 Italian/French production that starred Alain Delon.)
This summer, TriStar brings movie audiences a new
blade in "The Mask of Zorro," an Amblin production opening July 17. The
romantic adventure film, sets in the mid-1800s in Mexican California, puts
Antonio Banderas behind the mask?as it does ShoWest actor of the year
Anthony Hopkins, playing the original Zorro who schools the young bandit
in the ways of sword and cape. In the identity intrigue, Welsh-born
Catherine Zeta-Jones (?The Phantom?) plays Elena, a passionate young woman
who unknown to herself was born the daughter of the first Zorro.
On the following pages, key participants discuss
their efforts in their own words, including director Campbell
(?GoldenEye?), producer David Foster (?The River Wild?) and costumer
Graciela Mazon. Banderas opens our tale, describing the man behind the
THE SECOND MASK
In our story, we have two
Zorros--that's the big difference in this movie. One of them, the real
one, Don Diego de la Vega, has been 25, 30 years in jail. He lost his wife
that time ago, and his daughter--his daughter has been raised by his
Now he finds this pitiful face that is
me, who lost his brother--killed by the institutional power of the time
there in the land. This [Alejandro Murieta] is going to be trained by him,
and he is going to become a gentleman, become a beautiful "Zorro" man.
There's an initiation process that we're going to
see all through the movie, which is pretty interesting--the fact that the
Zorro in our movie is much more a concept, really, than a personality.
[It's a] concept that represents freedom, which represents responsibility,
the center of oneself, coolness.
So the man behind
the mask, in this case me, is just a man learning. It's almost a melding.
It's not so much the act of putting the
mask on and going out there. He tried before, but he's not completely
trained yet, and that upsets my master. [Alejandro] has to understand
that, through taking the mask and putting on the mask, that represents
responsibility, and he's trying to fulfill the dreams of many other people
who need somebody. He's basically a savior. So that's what the mask means:
The mask means kind of a weight on your shoulders, and you've got to be
cool to wear that mask.
That mask is not given to
anybody, but only to somebody who has the specific training and has
everything put together--it's somebody very down to earth. And at the
beginning of the movie he is not; he's like a child. He doesn't have the
matureness to portray the character, to go ahead. He thinks that that's
kind of a circus performance--and he's completely wrong. And then there's
a moment in the movie in which he's going to realize what is the way, and
he's going to follow that path, and that path is going to take him to be
the hero that everybody knows--that elegant, Spanish Hollywood hero
created in the '20s, which we've seen so many times in other versions of
In a way, he does [experience his own
salvation]. Revenge doesn't take you anywhere; justice does. That
dichotomy is what he's fighting inside himself. The anger that he feels at
the beginning when his brother is killed is taking him through nothing but
bad things and ruining his own life. So basically he exchanges those two
concepts--revenge for justice. And that is the interior goal he has to
reach. Once he understands that, the whole process is faster.
My character is an orphan, and in some way he
assumes that [first Zorro as a father figure]. Yet it's not only that.
There is a paternal side to the relationship, but it's also a friendship.
It's the study of two men alone, isolated from the real world, that are
trying to put on the right track different events that happened in their
lives for different reasons. But they help each other. It's kind of tender
when you see the two men and they are no longer swordfighting, and that's
the point of it--they live together in this secret cave and they have to
share everything, and it's kind of sweet to see that relationship.... They
become absolutely bonded. Though they argue a lot!
It's [also] a love story, and
what makes the story interesting is the fact that I don't know that this
woman, Elena, is actually the daughter of my master. And she doesn't know
that either--she's going to discover that in the middle of the story.
I am portraying different characters, and she falls
in love with all of them in a way; she doesn't know that it's the same
person. So she gets the feeling, the soul of this character through
different personalities, and with differing attitudes--one of them is
trying to pretend being a gentleman coming from Spain, another one is a
thief with a strange mask that's not even the mask of Zorro, the next one
is the real Zorro, and there is another one who's a guy who's pretending
to be a monk confessing her.
And she feels attracted
by all of these four characters, and then she discovers that they are the
same guy. You have very different levels all through the relationship. I
think that's what makes the movie more complex. It gives us also the
possibility of playing comedy, because there are a lot of confusions in
that--until we find who we are.
I learn my lines and show up
and do it. I don't analyze it. I read the script, I learn the stuff, and
hope that it will work. I don't examine it. The technical things I had to
learn: fencing, and riding, and the bullwhip. That's it, really.
I honed them down and practiced them--I tried to
make them look efficient and good. So I became accomplished in using a
bullwhip, in marksmanship with the bullwhip. And sword fencing. I had a
very good sword teacher, Bob Anderson [who played Darth Vader in the '70s
and worked with Errol Flynn decades before], and a great stunt
coordinator. And a wonderful director in Martin Campbell. You know, I
trust the director to do it. I've been doing this a long time now, so I
put all my trust in the director.
I'm an actor. There's no mystery to it. I
just learn my stuff and, if I'm playing Nixon I play Nixon, and if I'm
playing Zorro I play Zorro.
It was an adventure--it was a change from
playing Nixon and from playing those [starchy] guys like in --The Remains
of the Day. "I was offered the Bond film and I was offered the Zorro film,
both at the same time, and I was in the middle of filming an action-type
movie ["The Edge"] in Canada, so it was a question of choice. And I chose
"Zorro," because it was a big, flashy, good script, and I really liked it,
and I thought it would be a lot of fun to do.... Well, why not, have a go
at it! And if I'm bad and I don't come up to it, then they can fire me,
that's all. So that's how I look at all my work. I don't take it seriously
now. I don't take anything that seriously. You know, I have a lot of fun
doing what I do, and I don't agonize about it.
became an actor some years ago, 40-odd years ago, because I thought, Well,
it's better than working for a living.
WOMAN IN EXPRESS
I am actually the blood of
Zorro. [Elena is] the daughter of Anthony Hopkins' character, and I do not
know that. So I am taken to Spain and brought up in aristocracy and
believe that I am from my [false] father's blood. But in fact I'm fiery; I
have an earthiness to me, amongst all the regal attitude that I've been
taught. There's a fieriness to my character, and she's a very rooted
woman: She fights, she swordfights, she rides horses like a man, in the
man's way of riding.
So in that way there's lots
more to the characterization than, you know, just sitting atop a horse and
looking pretty. Which is great because she's not the damsel in distress.
She's a woman who will go out there and do as much as any man to get what
she wants. So that was nice for me, because I wasn't just waiting for
either one of the Zorros to come and fetch me and save me.
character and I are very attracted to each other, because we're very
similar in character. We have a very sexy swordfight in one of our
encounters. And with Tony Hopkins' character I feel that there's some
connection to this older man, but I am unaware until way later in the
movie that he is actually my father.
Zorro] metamorphoses throughout the whole movie. Every time I encounter
Antonio, he's a different character. I first meet him as a bandit. The
second time I meet him as the don, the bandit being the don he has the
kind of flippant buoyancy and decadence that the old Zorro had in the
time. I see him pretending to be an aristocrat, pretending to be a don.
And then I see him in the Zorro get-up. So I see this man in many
different disguises, but I sense an attraction to each one.
With my father, at one point Tony Hopkins and I have
a very intimate scene in a stable, and it's a wonderful scene in that he
knows that I'm his daughter. I'm aware that something is going on, and it
could even be borderlining on a sexual thing. There's some attraction
there with him, and I think it was a wonderful thing that Martin Campbell
has put into this story which was the ideal of the Zorro and the mask and
hiding behind the mask.
In fact, the three main
characters, and even the fourth, who is [former governor] Montero, the
baddie, who I think is my father: We all are hiding, and trying to find
something beyond the mask. Antonio has got a revenge, of his brother being
killed by this Captain Love, this animal kind of guy. And Tony Hopkins has
been betrayed bigtime his daughter has been stolen. And he has a passion
for the truth and wanting people to know the truth. And me, I'm caught up
in the middle and I fall in love with this man, but I don't know who he is
and I want to find out what's behind that mask. And then I have to find
out my real roots. So [Campbell] made an analogy, which is very symbolic,
of people hiding behind masks, of secrets behind masks. Which is really a
subplot it wasn't on the page, but we created that in our working process.
And I think it's really interesting.
grew up in a small community outside Swansea, a small city in the south of
Wales in the U.K. I went to the same school from the age of 5 until I
left, with the same teachers, in a big house. It was a very, very small
I was passionate about the theatre. I was
lucky to be born in the same hometown as Dylan Thomas, so there was a
Dylan Thomas theatre group that I always belonged to. And I was in amateur
dramatics, and I started studying dance when I was four years old.
You obviously take half of yourself into [any role],
but the great thing to me [about "The Mask of Zorro"] was that I was doing
a Spanish accent. So it's a completely different sound, and the body
language is completely different, for me. I have quite a very strong Welsh
accent, so when I saw Martin's first cut it was really interesting that
the Spanish accent [interrupting herself] I mean, I'm from a very basic
background, from a working-class family. I'm not part of the British
aristocracy in any way. We're very close, a big Irish-Catholic/Welsh
People used to ask, Why did you start
studying dance at the age of four it sounds like your parents pushed you
into this. But the actual fact is, in the local Catholic church around the
corner from my house, there was a lady who still teaches dancing there,
actually, and who's now a lifelong friend of mine. And I was so
hyperactive as a child that that was the easiest way for me to exert
myself in some way, so that I would at least sleep at night. I have a
quiet side to me, but I also have a frenetic energy that's unbelievable.
COSTUMER GRACIELA MAZON:
THE LOOK OF ZORRO
That period in California was so rich
there were so many cultures, and I wanted to have all of these textures.
Like [the scene in which] Antonio is dressed as a noble, and then we have
Anthony Hopkins, who is dressed as his servant. So I wanted to give
Anthony the traditional chinaco style.
For Zorro, I
wanted to keep earth textures at the beginning.... [After his training] he
has an outfit that is the traditional black that Zorro wears, but with
this California style. I wanted the same style, but in black, with this
fringe on the edge that makes him become like part of the space in which
he moves, all of this floating in space.
And then to
have the mask covering his face and just leaving the eyes, to make the
outline for this mystery that is his face.
DIRECTOR MARTIN CAMPBELL:
THE TWO ZORROS
In theory, it shouldn't work:
Banderas is Spanish and Hopkins is Welsh. But, given the story structure
of the movie, it worked incredibly well. The story is simply like a Merlin
and Arthur relationship about the older Zorro who's getting on in years,
who trains this wild bandit, this wild young man, to take over the mantle.
To be Zorro, as it were.
The relationships, which
work very well in the movie, are dictated to a certain extent by the
story. Because the mechanics of it dovetail beautifully into allowing the
conflict of the characters, it's a perfect structure for making the
And Tony being the classical actor that
he is, and Banderas of course also comes from the stage in Spain I mean,
he did a lot of the National Theatre in Madrid all I can tell you is that
sometimes you get lucky with the chemistry between two actors.
They're both perfectly suited to their roles, both
got on extremely well, and the dynamics between them both you know, this
young, fiery bandit who thinks with his heart rather than his head, and
this very classic, noble Hopkins character, who has all the Zorro
philosophy are both ends of the spectrum.
I tried to
base it in terms of its [style] more on the Fairbanks, on the silent
movie, than I ever did on the Tyrone Power and the subsequent versions of
the story. If you look at those old silent movies with Fairbanks, he's
absolutely marvelous. Even though they're silent, he captures the spirit
and the humor of Zorro much more than any of the subsequent versions.
PRODUCER DAVID FOSTER:
ON THE PRODUCTION
We had a historian with us
during the whole preproduction phase that's a long time. What we've done
is mix fact with fiction, but to keep the fact accurate and the period
accurate we had this historian, Diego Sandoval, who's a Mexican historian.
What he did was put in the historical weapons,
swords, uniforms make sure soldiers were dressed the way Spanish soldiers
were dressed in that period. The film covers 1820 to 1840, so the story
spans 20 years. Which is why we have two Zorros. It starts out with
Anthony Hopkins as Zorro, and he's thrown in prison. After 20 years in
prison, when he comes out he's in his late 40s, and he realizes he can no
longer be Zorro. So he trains this young man.
entire film was produced and shot in Mexico. The reason was that we wanted
accurate and real places. We rented from owners of haciendas that have
been in their families for 200 and 300 years, in towns you've probably
never heard of.
For this picture, the camera was
able to turn 360 degrees in any direction and you wouldn't see telephone
poles, you wouldn't see satellite dishes you could look as far as the eye
could see in any direction and it looked like it would have 200, 300 years
I remember talking with Antonio before the
shoot, when he was home in Marbella, about when he would be arriving and
so on. And Antonio said, David, I'm looking out my window. The sky is
blue, the water is beautiful why don't we shoot it in Spain And I said,
Because it doesn't look like Mexico.