It’s not about blood relationships and it’s not about sharing the same DNA; it’s the love you share that makes you proudly call someone your family. When Antonio Banderas married Melanie Griffith, her children became his children and her family became his family, too.
Over the course of their marriage, which lasted almost two decades, Banderas was a devoted father who became someone irreplaceable in the lives of Griffith’s children, so much that Griffith’s daughter from her previous marriage, Dakota Johnson, told the entire world with pride about what a wonderful stepfather he was.
At the Hollywood Film Awards 2019, it was Johnson who presented Banderas with the Hollywood Actor Award, which he won for his performance in Pain and Glory, as reported by E! Online.
As Johnson stood on stage, she gave an emotional speech for her former stepfather and said, “There are infinite possibilities for how relationships and family dynamics play out when parents re-marry. 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.”
But Johnson is grateful to have a man, so involved and so loving, walk into their lives and leave a lasting impact. “I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky,” Johnson continued in her tribute to Banderas. “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 in to our family.”
Remembering the wonderful moments he gave her entire family, Johnson couldn’t help tearing up and she went on to say, as quoted by People, “My stepfather Antonio Banderas burst into our lives. He was so vibrant and so fun and so funny, and his English was abstract. We found it absolutely amazing.”
“He loved my mother and my siblings and I so fiercely, and so big and so loud that it would change all of our lives forever. Antonio taught me about true passion and discipline.”
Touched by how Johnson still sees him as family, Banderas was moved by her words and thanked her in his speech.
“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!” the 59-year-old actor said. “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,” he added.
To daughter, Stella, whom he and Griffith had during their marriage, he said, according to the Daily Mail, “No matter how many movies, or stage productions, you have been my best production.”
Even though Banderas and Griffith split in 2015, it hasn’t put a dent in his connection with her family. In an interview with Vulture, he said, “I am not married with Melanie anymore but she is my family. She is probably one of my best friends, if not the best friend that I have. My family is there, Dakota [Johnson], Little Estella and Alexander.”
The end of their marriage hasn’t changed his relations with the family, and he said, “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.”