Why Melanie Griffith And Antonio Banderas Really Split

This article references drug use and addiction.

In the late '90s and early '00s, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith were one of Hollywood's hottest couples. The actors had gotten scandalously close while shooting the 1995 rom-com "Two Much" before tying the knot a year later. Griffith had already been a fixture in the headlines because of her tumultuous on-and-off relationship with actor Don Johnson, to whom she was married when she met the Spanish actor. Yet the "Body Double" star was still an A-lister in her own right, having acted professionally since age 12, and receiving an Oscar nomination in 1989 for her performance in "Working Girl." As for Banderas, he was rising to fame in the U.S. at the time, thanks to his breakthrough role in 1992's "The Mambo Kings," and his critically acclaimed performance in 1993's "Philadelphia."

While both Banderas and Griffith continued to star in movies throughout their long and successful careers, it seems the public was always more interested in their marriage. It probably didn't help that their relationship was constantly the subject of tabloid rumors — and that was on top of their actual personal problems. Although they seemingly overcame a lot of challenges, they eventually divorced in 2014.

Yet, the former couple did stay married for almost two decades, which by Hollywood standards, is practically forever.  So why did these two eventually decide to throw in the towel? Let's break down the reasons why Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas really split.

They fell in love on set

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas had a true Hollywood romance in that they apparently fell in love on a movie set. However, they'd apparently met years earlier, at the 1989 Academy Awards. As Banderas later gushed to ABC News, he was seemingly taken with his future wife from the moment he saw her. "I saw this beautiful woman with a cream dress, with pearls," he recollected. Meanwhile, Griffith initially felt much different, telling AARP in 2011, "The first thing he asked me was my age. I said, 'That's the rudest thing anyone has asked me first.'"

It wasn't until the two starred in the 1995 rom-com "Two Much" that things became romantic. The only problem was they were both already married. "It was very, very fast and very compulsive, but ... we were tied at the time," Banderas told ABC News. Although they were reportedly already having problems in their respective marriages, they tried to ignore their spark. "We just thought this may be one of those ... infatuation moments that we have when we shoot movies because we got to play together a couple, so let's just go home," "The Mask of Zorro" star dished to the outlet.

Speaking to The Morning Call, Banderas revealed that they realized it was more than just an on-set crush. "You just know there is something inside you that is stronger than yourself. And you can't stop it." So they didn't and instead moved full-steam ahead with their relationship.

Griffith and Banderas got divorced to get married

Before they could get married, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas had to divorce their respective spouses. The "Working Girl" star had been in a headline-making relationship with actor Don Johnson at the time, having initially married him in 1976, and then again in 1989. By 1994, People was reporting that their marriage was in trouble, with the "Miami Vice" star entering rehab for alcohol addiction while his wife admitted to having broken five years of sobriety herself. Griffith filed for divorce from Johnson in 1994, citing irreconcilable differences.

Banderas also left his then-wife, Spanish actor Ana Leza, whereupon Griffith was publicly accused of stealing her husband. "It's a circus," the "Desperaro" star told The Morning Call about the media attention lavished on the love triangle. However, he denied that his second wife was to blame for his divorce. "There is no connection," he told EW. "... It's not like I met this girl and poom."

Regardless, Leza apparently took Banderas to the cleaners in their 1996 divorce, receiving 3.4 million euros, not counting monthly alimony payments, and 50% of the profits from the films he made when they were married, per Vanity Fair. "They grab you by the foot, shake you, and when the last dollar [drops] they leave you," Banderas was quoted by the outlet as saying about the situation. However, it proved to be worth it — months later he married Griffith in a small ceremony held in London.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Madonna stirred up some drama

It's no secret that pop legend Madonna was infatuated with Antonio Banderas, which you could say caused some drama in his and Melanie Griffith's relationship. To be fair, the star had been obsessed with the actor long before his second marriage. She even gushed about him in her 1991 documentary, "Truth or Dare" saying, "Antonio Banderas is this Spanish actor that I've had a crush on for two years." At the time, Banderas was actually married to Ana Leza, which didn't seem to matter to the "Material Girl" singer, who joked in another scene, "I'm going to make Antonio fall madly in love with me."

Madonna was apparently still into Banderas when they eventually worked together in the 1996 film "Evita." "I had a big crush on him," she admitted on "The Howard Stern Show," years later. "... he was with Melanie Griffith ... she never left his side." 

During a 2002 episode of "Larry King Live," Griffith discussed Madonna's public affections for her husband and claimed that she was actually banned from the set of "Evita" for it. "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," she explained. "... It really wasn't the case." Banderas also made it clear to ABC News that he was never the "Latin Lover" that the media portrayed him to be. "I am very, very Latin, but I am lover of my wife," he said.

Banderas initially struggled with becoming a stepfather

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas wasted no time starting their family, welcoming their daughter, Stella Banderas, in September 1996, just months after tying the knot. For Griffith, having a child with Banderas was even better than her movie career. In 2018, she told InStyle (via ET), "[It] was more exciting than playing a part in a story."

Yet Griffith was already a parent, having had a son, Alexander Bauer, with Stephen Bauer, and a daughter, "50 Shades of Grey" actor, Dakota Johnson, with Don Johnson. Child-free before his second marriage, Banderas admitted that becoming a stepfather had its challenges. "It was hard because the kids had to accept me, and I was totally inexperienced," he revealed to AARP. "Suddenly I had a 6-year-old girl, a 10-year-old boy, and Stella came along almost immediately. " Eventually his step-children relaxed once they realized he wasn't going anywhere. "They needed solid ground in which they could grow," he added.

Decades later, it appeared that divorce hadn't altered his relationship with his former step-children. In 2020, for example, he gushed about Dakota to Us Weekly, saying, "She's my daughter, I love her." The "Suspiria" star made it clear that she feels the same way when she paid tribute to him at the 2019 Hollywood Film Awards (via E!) saying, "I got a bonus dad who ... is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life." 

Melanie Griffith's addiction strained their marriage

Melanie Griffith had experienced various issues regarding addiction and substance misuse before she'd even met Antonio Banderas. However, these problems would also come to put a strain on their marriage in later years. Per People, she first checked into rehab back in 1988. Although she got sober, she later relapsed with painkillers in 2000 after suffering a neck injury.

Although Banderas admitted to ABC News that he would have left his wife if she didn't get clean, he stood by her during her recovery. "He's always been extremely supportive of me in situations where other people might have run away," Griffith dished. Banderas even told AARP that he loved her more for overcoming her issues and that it brought them closer as a family. "It just welded us," he said. ".. We did all the therapies together — the kids, everybody."

Yet Griffith denied those claims, revealing that it was her kids who called her out for misusing drugs while he was away in London and that they never actually attended family weeks at rehab. "Antonio was supportive to the extent that he can be, but if you're not an alcoholic or drug addict, and you find out that your wife is a bad one, it's hard to deal with," she explained to AARP. She added that she had wished he had done more like attending recovery meetings with her, but understood that he didn't have any prior experience with addiction.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The worked hard to maintain their relationship

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith seemingly had to work really hard to make their marriage work and were even open with the fact that it wasn't always easy. For example, in 2011, when asked by AARP about how they stayed together in Hollywood over the years, Griffith revealed, "We're willing to change with each other, let old things die, and new things be born. But it's a constant endeavor."

Banderas apparently agreed that it required effort when he too was asked about their secret to longevity. In a different interview with AARP, he mused, "The secret is that we had failures before. And love at the beginning is a rush ... But it doesn't last like that." He went on to explain that having a family together helped to fuse them on a deeper level but admitted that it didn't fix everything. "We have had as many problems as anybody. We've never hidden it," he said.

The couple also had to contend with constant cheating rumors that were often blown up by the press. Griffith recalled one incident on "Larry King Live" when she was photographed out at lunch with her "Shade" co-star Gabriel Byrne. "They concoct a romance," she explained. "... [Banderas] got mad at me. Of course." The actor reflected that she and her third husband were both prone to jealousy and added, "I will never go to lunch with a man ever again alone."

Eventually, they drifted apart

In 2014, after almost twenty years of marriage, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith announced that they were getting divorced. Per Reuters, it didn't appear to be an ugly split since they claimed in a joint statement, "We have thoughtfully and consensually decided to finalize our almost 20 years marriage in a loving and friendly manner honoring and respecting each other." According to TMZ, it was Griffith who filed for the divorce, citing irreconcilable differences and asking for joint but primary physical custody of their daughter Stella Banderas, as well as spousal support. 

The move came just two years after People speculated their marriage was on the rocks after Griffith was spotted out without her wedding ring and her hubby was seen dancing with another woman at a party. A source allegedly close to the former couple told People that the couple had been sparring and splitting up for years. It apparently didn't help that Antonio was often overseas. "During the times they were apart for business or film work, he began to live his own life away from her," the source said.

According to Page Six, those who were supposedly close to the couple saw the divorce coming. "They used to be so affectionate with each other, but more recently they've been drifting apart," one insider claimed. Another source suggested that the pair had tried their best to maintain some semblance of a relationship in respect of their children and Antonio's catholic beliefs. 

Melanie Griffith felt stuck and stressed

In 2016, "Crazy in Alabama" star Melanie Griffith opened up about her divorce from Antonio Banderas and even took a share of the blame. She revealed to Porter magazine (via ABC News), "I think part of the reason my marriage to Antonio fell apart was because I was stuck." She went on to infer that it wasn't because anyone cheated or did anything wrong, she was simply having a life crisis. "... I won't let that happen again. I want to enjoy life, I want to do whatever I want to do," she said.

While Griffith admitted that her personal issues were a major factor in their split, a few months later she may have suggested that her fledgling relationship with Banderas had caused her a lot of anxiety. Speaking about her epilepsy at the 2017 Women's Brain Health Initiative (via Page Six), the actor revealed how being prescribed medication to treat the condition had changed her life. "I haven't had a seizure, which is amazing — but I also got divorced, which I think is the real healer for me," she joked. "I mean it! I am not stressed anymore!"

Whether that's true or not, Griffith later took to her Instagram to clarify that she was only joking and that the two remained on good terms. She wrote (via Hello!), "I was not putting blame on Antonio and my marriage. I love him and always will. I take personal responsibility for my health."

Antonio Banderas moved on with another woman

While Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith will always be remembered as one of Hollywood's most beloved couples, they have both moved on since their 2014 divorce. The "Frida" actor, in particular, didn't seem to waste any time finding love again, considering that he reportedly began dating the model and investment consultant, Nicole Kimpel, later that year. According to the Daily Mail, the two were first seen together at a party in Cannes, France, and have seemingly been an item ever since.

These days Banderas often shares photos of Kimpel on his Instagram and she's been by his side at red carpet events. He even credited her for rescuing him during his 2017 heart attack. He recalled on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "When I started having the symptoms ... she put one of those aspirins inside of my tongue and that saved my life."

Meanwhile, Griffith has remained single. In 2017, she told Porter magazine (via ET), "I don't go on dates, nobody has asked me on a date. I go out with my girlfriends." After three failed marriages, she apparently has no interest in ever getting married again either. She told InStyle, (via Page Six), "If you're 60 and you have four kids and you're living the life you've always wanted. Then why get married?" However, that doesn't mean her heart's not open. "I would love to fall in love and have a romance, a relationship," she said. "... I've had a couple of lovers but not a relationship."

The couple remained friends

Although many celebrities claim to be friends with their exes, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas appear to actually mean it. Years after their divorce, they continue to celebrate each other. For example, in 2018 Banderas revealed to ET, "Melanie is my dear friend ... she's still my family." He even went as far as to add, "I will love that woman until the day I die." That next year, the "Shrek 2" star spoke of their tight bond again to Vulture, saying, "She is probably one of my best friends, if not the best friend that I have."

Griffith apparently feels the same and has made a point to regularly support her ex on Instagram, including posting photos of him with their daughter Stella or giving him special shout-outs about how talented he is. In a 2016 tribute to him, she even wrote, "Happy Birthday to my ruggedly handsome ex-husband ... I will always love you." If that's not enough, in 2019, ET reported that she'd posted a now-deleted throwback photo of them embracing along with the caption, "Mi Amor Antonio."

Griffith has apparently kept her two other ex-husbands, Stephen Bauer and Don Johnson, close as well. She explained to People, "All three of them are my friends. I love them with all my heart." However, Banderas was Griffith's longest relationship and while there seem to be many reasons behind their split, a lack of love is apparently not one.