Salma Hayek says 25-year friendship with Antonio Banderas plays a role in success of Puss in Boots’ long-awaited sequel

After an 11-year wait, fans are able to revisit their favourite Puss in Boots characters in the long-awaiting sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Antonio Banderas returns in the title role, with Salma Hayek also back in black as the sassy feline, Kitty Softpaws. 

But it’s like no time has passed since the first and new film, with Hayek telling 9Honey Celebrity the pair’s off-screen friendship helped them pick up where they left off in the 2011 original.

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“I think that since we did the last movie, I discovered that in our friendship, there have been moments where we kind of go back into those characters and start bickering among us but almost in the way they talk,” the actress says while chatting to us via Zoom. “It’s so funny and I’m so glad that we get to put them back on the screen.”

Director Joel Crawford said Hayek and Banderas’ onscreen chemistry was mesmerising to watch, as was their improv comedy while in their characters. 

“There was so much you brought – comedy, depth … and that it was an amazing gift,” Crawford also tells 9Honey Celebrity. “When I’m directing it to go, ‘Oh, wow.’ You’re finding so much, especially improvising.”

Hayek adds: “Yes, because I know what I should feed to [Antonio] because I know what he’s going to react. He doesn’t have to be in the room; we don’t even have to talk. That’s 25 years of friendship.”

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Like in the original film, Hayek’s character is far from a damsel in distress. She’s a fierce feline and a force to be reckoned with, and even more so in the sequel, which sees Kitty go on an epic adventure with a burnt-out Puss to find the mythical Last Wish and thus restore his nine lives. 

“I discovered the character so much deeper through this one journey,” she says. “It has an arc that is stronger, it’s meaningful, it’s full of metaphors. It’s extremely ambitious. It doesn’t just want to entertain people. It wants to lift the spirits of people and make them think and be excited about appreciating life. And that’s very important, even for the kids.”

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“For my character, I think for me it was really unexpected how much complexity the character has,” she continues.

“One thing that I love is that it’s a very strong feminine character and she’s very bossy and she’s very sassy, but at the same time, she’s romantic sensitive, but she doesn’t wanna show it.”

“Her greatest courage, because she’s very courageous, is to be vulnerable and to teach the male character in this movie that it’s OK to be vulnerable too.”

And while Puss in Boots: The Last Wish explores mortality and death through the lead character, it is more a celebration of life, according to Crawford.

“That was something really important to us – that feeling like we’re not going to limit what the film’s trying to say, but there’s the way we express it is with joy and comedy,” he said. 

“Something that was really important to us was that along the way, we’re not heavy-handed with themes – there’s a light touch to the audience experiencing the story and pulling out some of the themes for themselves.”

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“As we were making this, we talked about this movie as a rollercoaster – there’s comedy, maybe some tears, maybe there are scary moments, there’s action… But at the end of it, there’s this adrenaline, this excitement for life.”

As for Hayek, she loves that the movie encourages viewers to live in the moment and appreciate what they have.

“It’s hard to live in the present, but sometimes you’re wishing for things and are too worried about things that are problems that you don’t even have. You forget to enjoy what you have,” she says.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is in cinemas on Boxing Day, December 26.

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