Watch Antonio Banderas Play a Melodramatic Picasso in the Trailer for National Geographic’s New Miniseries

The Spanish actor can't get enough of Picasso—he still wants to star in Guernica, Carlos Saura’s long-awaited art-house film set in 1937.

Antonio Banderas in Picasso: Genius, courtesy of National Geographic

The actor Antonio Banderas celebrated the world premiere of Genius: Picasso in the artist’s hometown of Málaga in southern Spain last night. (It happens to be Banderas’s hometown, too.) The actor stars as the great painter in National Geographic and Fox’s 10-part miniseries, which airs on April 24. 

Amid the festivities, a very different Picasso film was not far from the star’s mind. The veteran Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura has long wanted Banderas to play Picasso in his own project, 33 Days, an art-house movie focusing on the creation of Guernica in the spring and summer of 1937.

Banderas is game—but first, he needs a break. “I need space to get Picasso off my back,” the actor told El Independiente online news. Just last week, he said, he was filming a “tremendous” fight scene for Genius with Dora Maar (played by Samantha Colley), the photographer who was Picasso’s muse and lover when he painted Guernica.

Meanwhile, the octogenarian director has a different approach in mind. Banderas said Saura wants to create an “unconventional” film in which the artist’s great anti-war painting becomes a portal through which the viewer can “slip into the Spanish Civil War.” The green light for the on-again, off-again project appeared to be imminent, though the actor said that it was temporarily on pause due to lack of financing.

National Geographic offers a more conventional—and far soapier—treatment of Picasso’s life, tracing his development from a penniless young artist (played Alex Rich) to the world’s most famous and richest (Banderas). The trailer indicates that the painter’s tangled love life looms large. Women swoon as a young and, later, middle-aged Picasso declares: “I want to paint you!” 

Although Picasso has recently come under renewed scrutiny for his treatment of women, Banderas would not be drawn out on the subject. “I do not establish any moral judgment,” he said. “I never do it with the characters I play.” He will, however, admit that the artist was a flawed genius: “The problem of Picasso is that he wants everything.” While the trait is charming in a child, “it is not very pleasant” in an old man, he added. 

Genius: Picasso will be screened during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 20, followed by a conversation with Banderas and the rest of the cast.

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