The Untold Truth Of Antonio Banderas' Ex-Wives

Antonio Banderas has had an unbelievable career. The Spanish actor, whose first role was in 1982's Pestañas postizas (False Eyelash), has been working steadily for nearly 40 years. And he's only getting better with age. In 2020, he received his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role in Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory. The recognition may have come late in life, but it sure was well-deserved — or as The New York Times proclaimed, "Oscar's Most Talented Newcomer Is 59-Year-Old Antonio Banderas."

The actor's personal life, however, is another story. Married twice, first to fellow Spanish actress Ana Leza, then to A-lister Melanie Griffith, Banderas has had to endure not one, but two difficult splits. As a blockbuster star, the second played out in the tabloids, but the first was no treat, either. And as it turns out, both of Banderas's exes had their share of secrets, which we'll shine a light on below. This is the untold truth of Antonio Banderas' ex-wives.

Ana Leza helped launch Banderas' career, then she took everything

In 1987, Antonio Banderas said "I do" for the first time to fellow actress Ana Leza after just six months of dating. According to Vanity Fair España, Leza, who hails from Madrid, devoted her time to be the actor's private English teacher and soon became one of the biggest driving forces behind his budding career. "She helped me translate the script for The Mambo Kings, to work it, and gave me a lot of confidence," Banderas told the outlet. "Without her I wouldn't have gotten the role." The 1992 drama-musical was the actor's first foray into Hollywood and helped launch his international career. As Leza told the magazine, "It was imperative that I accompany him to the United States because he didn't speak a word of English and I spoke fluently."

His tune changed when they divorced in 1995 and Leza walked away with their home in Madrid, 3.4 million euros, monthly alimony payments of 12,000 euros, and lifetime rights to 50% of all the films he made while they were married. "It was eight days of trial," Banderas recounted in 2004, according to Vanity Fair España. "It's a business. What the judge wants to know is how much are you going to pay your partner. They grab you by one foot, they shake you and, when [they get every last dollar], they leave you. That's what they did with me."

Ana Leza found new love, and new faith

Following her monumental split from Antonio Banderas in 1995, Ana Leza turned her life completely upside down. She left her brief acting career (shown above in a scene from Pedro Almodóvar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and started a new life in California with Dharma Villareal, an editor and documentary filmmaker for Xerox. According to Vanity Fair España, the couple met through a shared devotion to meditation. More specifically to Siddha Yoga, which the outlet calls "a mystical organization of Hindu origin," noting that some have dubbed it a cult.

The pair wed in 2000 and had two daughters together, Clara María y Sofía Macarena, whom they also introduced to meditation. These days, the entire family is passionate about following the Siddha Yoga spiritual path, which, according to its official website, is "guided by meditation teacher and master, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda." They are so devoted, in fact, that they have even adopted Buddhist alter egos. Daughter Clara María, for example, calls herself Clara Priya while Sofía Macarena is Sophia Sindhu.

Banderas, of course, famously wed fellow actor Melanie Griffith the year after his divorce from Leza, in 1996. 

Melanie Griffith's struggle with addiction started at 10

Melanie Griffith has battled addiction for most of her life. She began drinking wine at 10 and slowly started relying on cocaine and alcohol to fill a void. As she told Vanity Fair [via People] in 1994, "I was never loved unconditionally," which was likely the result of having a superstar mother, Tippi Hedren, and busy ad executive father, Peter Griffith.

Her dependence intensified — she was secretly drinking and doing drugs on the job. The turning point came when she showed up to the Working Girl set too drunk to walk down some stairs. Filming stopped and, the following day, assistant director Mike Haley demanded she pay $80,000 to cover lost production costs. In return, he wouldn't report her to studio execs. Three weeks later, the actress checked into rehab.

Griffith relapsed and returned to rehab in 2000. This time around, her children had been the catalyst. As she explained to AARP in 2011, "I started on pain pills when I hurt my knee skiing and just kept taking them. The kids knew; Dakota and Stella called me on it." Meanwhile, Griffith had been sure she was balancing addiction and motherhood perfectly. As she told PORTER Magazine [via E!], "I was a totally functioning mom. I wasn't like a drunk-on-the-floor, out-of-it person. I didn't do some things I probably should have done, but, mostly, I was there for my kids."

Griffith entered rehab for a third time in 2009 and, in 2015, she celebrated over five years of sobriety.

Alec Baldwin turned down Melanie Griffith

Working Girl made Melanie Griffith a household name and, in celebration of the movie's 30th anniversary, the actress reminisced about the classic 1988 flick and revealed some interesting secrets from the set. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, she admitted she had a serious crush on co-star Alec Baldwin, and that he didn't feel the same way.

"Alec Baldwin is handsome and charming, and I just had such a crush on him," she gushed. "But he wouldn't go there with me. I was like, 'Oh come on, have a romance with me!' But no, Alec said, 'I can't do this with people I work with.' He's a sweetheart," she concluded.

Don't feel bad for her, though. Griffith wasted no time crying over her leading man. In fact, when a young investment banker named Liam Dalton was hired to teach her about some of the jargon she'd be throwing around on-set, she quickly forgot all about Baldwin. "He was so gorgeous, so sexy," she said of Dalton, revealing, "We had an incredible romance. He was my love for a long time after that too. We're still friends."

Madonna went head-to-head with Melanie Griffith

When Antonio Banderas was cast opposite Madonna in 1996's Evita, Melanie Griffith went on the offensive. The pop star had made her love for Banderas publicly known, telling an audience in her 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, "Antonio Banderas is this Spanish actor that I've had a crush on for two years. I've seen every movie that Antonio has ever done." Next thing you know, Griffith was accompanying Banderas onto the Evita set every day. Until she was banned, that is.

"Madonna was after him publicly," Griffith tried to explain on Larry King Live in 2002. "I was pregnant when he was doing Evita [...] I had just gotten pregnant, and I went with him." She proclaimed that it had nothing to do with jealousy or protectivess, noting, "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 [...] steal him. And it really wasn't the case."

Whatever the truth was, those in charge of Evita seemed to be Team Madonna. "I was banned from the set," she revealed. "They didn't let me go on the set." 

Don't mess with Melanie Griffith's kids

Melanie Griffith is a mom of three — Dakota Johnson (who has been candid about her great bond with stepdad Antonio Banderas), Alexander Bauer, and Stella Banderas — and if there's one thing she takes seriously, it's her duty to love and protect her kids. One critic found this out first-hand when the actress called her the B-word on Twitter.

The year was 2013 and Dakota Johnson, Griffith's doppelganger daughter, had just been cast to play the lead in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Griffith was the epitome of a proud mama, gushing on Twitter, "My beautiful child Dakota has been chosen to play Anna Steele in 50 Shades!!! Look out world! Here she comes!!! #proudmama."

While many fans of the books were less than complimentary, Griffith's followers had plenty of nice things to say. Those that didn't, were soon silenced by the Oscar nominee. Although the original exchange has since disappeared, the Independent documented Griffith's unapologetic response to one particular hater. Not mincing words, she slammed, "Wow! You're quite a b****, aren't you? #dontmesswithmama."

Did Melanie Griffith lowkey blame Antonio Banderas for her seizures?

In 2017, Melanie Griffith shocked fans when she revealed she had epilepsy. Speaking at the Women's Brain Health Initiative (via Page Six), she opened up about her secret health struggle, noting she had suffered from undiagnosed seizures for two decades before being properly diagnosed in a Cannes hospital after she had two "major" seizures while on a yacht.

More shocking than her reveal, however, were the comments she made about her ex in relation to the condition. Although she never spoke Antonio Banderas' name, many believed Griffith was beating the dead horse of their divorce by implying he was the cause of some of her seizures. "I've been on a drug for four years," she said, adding, "I haven't had a seizure, which is amazing — but I also got divorced, which I think is the real healer for me." As the audience laughed, she insisted, "I mean it! I am not stressed anymore!"

The comment was met with criticism and Griffith tried to explain herself on Instagram, passing it off as good-humored fun. "I joked that my divorce was a real healer for me," she wrote, adding, "I was not putting blame on Antonio and my marriage. I love him and always will," she continued before concluding, "I take personal responsibility for my health and will continue to seek information to better understand my brain and how to stay healthy."

Melanie Griffith thinks marriage is irrelevant

She may have had four marriages with three husbands, but Melanie Griffith is officially over the entire institution. In fact, she thinks it's a waste of time. After she and Banderas finalized their divorce in 2015, the actress let the world know she wouldn't be walking down the aisle ever again.

"I really don't think it's relevant for anyone anymore," she told InStyle in 2018, elaborating, "Especially if you're 60 and you have four kids and you're living the life you've always wanted. Then why get married? It's like, I would love to fall in love and have a romance, a relationship, but I haven't. I keep looking. I've had a couple of lovers but not a relationship."

According to Page Six, Griffith was first married to Don Johnson (the pair started living together when she was just 15 and he was 24!) from January to July 1976 — yes a whole six months. She then tied the knot with Steven Bauer in 1981, but they split in 1989 and she remarried Johnson. When they called it quits in 1996, Griffith quickly said "I do" to Banderas later that year. With such a tumultuous love life, maybe it's no surprise she'd have a jaded view of matrimony.