Antonio Banderas is a blessed father whose family holds him close to their hearts, even if they parted ways long ago. And actress Dakota Johnson is lucky to have had the talented actor be a part of her life during the most formative years. Seeing their beautiful bond during the Hollywood Film Awards in Los Angeles, where Johnson paid a tribute to him, brought people to tears.
The Zorro actor’s relationship with step-daughter Johnson survived the end of his marriage to Melanie Griffith, Johnson’s mother, and the 50 Shades of Grey actress still calls him “papi.” Banderas and Griffith were married for 20 years before separating in 2015. The 30-year-old actress paid a moving tribute to the Pain and Glory star, 59, while presenting him with the Hollywood Actor Award at the ceremony.
“There are infinite possibilities for how relationships and family dynamics play out when parents re-marry,” the Ben and Kate actress started her speech. “Sometimes when your parents re-marry you might experience varying degrees of a living nightmare. You may spend your childhood and then some of your adult life, depending on how much therapy you’ve had, really railing against the cosmic joke that seems to be playing out in real time,” she said, addressing the fears a child has when their parents remarry.
However, her step-father was one of the best parts of her life growing up. “I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky,” Johnson continued. “I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life. When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light, a whole new world of creativity and culture and one remarkably magical little sister [Stella] into our family,” she said, according to EOnline.
The actress couldn’t help getting emotional as she continued and teared up. “My stepfather, Antonio Banderas, burst into our lives,” she told the audience. “He was so vibrant and so fun and so funny and his English was abstract and we found it absolutely amazing. He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together.”
Johnson gushed how he taught her “about true passion and discipline,” according to People.com. The Suspiria actress acknowledged that now that she is part of the industry she realizes how Banderas is one of the “finest artists in film, stage and television, in multiple languages.” She said that his performances have left an imprint on her.
Banderas, who attended the event with Stella, his and Griffith’s daughter, dedicated the award to both his daughters. “I want to dedicate this to two people that I love, one is right here, Dakota, for something very simple, because you always call me papi, and still now you call me papi and I love that!” he raved. “You have no idea how much I love that! We had 20 years of family life that was beautiful, but the best is still to come.” To his daughter, Stella, the devoted father said, “No matter how many movies, or stage productions, you have been my best production.”
Previously, the Desperado actor, who helped raise Griffith’s two children from her previous relationships, had said, “I was there because I love their mother and I am totally taken with their mother and they were the most important part of what she came with. Very soon they understood that. They called me Paponio, a mixture between Papa and Antonio.”
Even though, Banderas and Griffith are not married anymore their family stays a close-knit one. The Laundromat actor had previously told People.com, “Melanie is not my wife anymore, but I think she is my best friend. I love her and will love her until the day I die. She’s my family.”