Colour me happy. Finally, I get a Male on Monday slot. FINALLY, I get to tell the world about the second most gorgeous man in the world. (Well, obviously I’m married to THE most gorgeous man...)
And I think Donna and Jenna have indulged me here for two reasons: a) it’s my birthday this week, and b) I’m off to the RNA Awards Lunch tomorrow, where I’ve been shortlisted for the Romance Prize. (And how I'm looking forward to seeing lots of friends there - should be a few PHS-ers...)
They say things come in threes, so my third reason has to be the man himself. A man who was nominated as one of the most beautiful people in the world by People Magazine back in 1996 and who’s a damn fine actor.
José Antonio Domínguez Banderas.
He could’ve been a soccer star, but he broke his foot when he was 14. Then he discovered the theatre; he toured with a small theatre group and was arrested several times for performing in a Brecht play (thanks to political censorship under Franco).
In 1992 he made his Hollywood debut with The Mambo Kings; he couldn’t speak English at the time, so he learned his dialogue phonetically.
I first saw him in Philadelphia, back in 1993. It didn’t matter that he was playing a gay man in the film. I thought he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. (This is where my ed will leap in and say, ‘No, Kate, you ask EVERY SINGLE TIME, and you cannot have him as a cover model.’) Anyway, that scene where he kisses Tom Hanks’ fingers… it’s inspired a few scenes in my own books. Brilliantly done.
And then the following year I saw him in Interview with a Vampire. With long hair. Oh-h-h. Could the man get any more beautiful? Er, yes. Enter Desperado (1995), with Salma Hayek. (He was nominated for an award for best kiss, with that film. Mmm. And I might point out that my first RNA-shortlisted book, Where the Heart Is, references that film… Sadly, my ed nixed my hero having long hair on the cover.)
Then there was Evita (1996 - I was pregnant at the time, and the baby kicked like crazy all the way through the film. Probably because his mum was enjoying the film so much).
And then there’s The Mask of Zorro (1998). That smile. That mouth. When he did the sequel, Melanie Griffith’s take on it was ‘He's always been the superhero of the family.’ I can see that :o) And wouldn't you want to swap places with Catherine Zeta Jones? (That's a lightbulb moment picture.)
And as for superheroes… I was very happy to take the kids to see Spy Kids in 2001 (didn’t matter that my littlest was only a year old – she slept like a baby *g*, and son and I loved it).
Shrek 2 (2004) – his voice is just gorgeous. And from what I’ve seen of the interviews, he had enormous fun playing it. (And there’s a certain line in that film that I’ve borrowed. How I got it past my ed, I will never know. But anyone who reads my May UK release and spots it… Do come and tell me!)
Take the Lead (2006) went under my radar, until I saw the PHS post on it and, um, bought the DVD. The soundtrack wasn’t my cuppa tea, but I could watch the tango scene over and over again. (I admit, the ballroom dancing in the book I wrote in December/January owes even more to that than it did to Tom Chambers in Strictly Come Dancing.)
As far as I’m concerned, Antonio Banderas is the hottest romantic lead ever. The perfect alpha male. If any of my books were filmed and I had a say in casting (all right, all right, so I’m fantasising), he’d be my top choice for any of them. He acts beautifully (and has 24 awards and another 26 nominations to prove it – including being a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard), he has screen chemistry and he’s stunningly handsome.
But we all know looks aren’t everything.
So there’s the man himself.
Sadly, I’ve never met him (and if I was commissioned to interview him with my journo hat on, I’d be a gibbering puddle and make a complete fool of myself), but I’ve read interviews, and he comes over as a really nice guy and a lot of fun. The thing that does it for me: he really, really loves his wife Melanie Griffiths (they’ve been married for 13 years, this year), and he’s not scared of saying so. Given his job and the kind of pressures they must face, that’s something to be proud of. And how does he do it? I’ll leave you with a quote from the man himself. ‘To be married in our profession is not an easy thing. There's too many beautiful people around, very interesting people. It's just a matter of really being patient and probably having the capacity and the faith of falling in love with your own wife again. That happens to me.’
Kate Hardy has, um, rather a lot of books out this month.
In Australia, there’s the first half of the London Victoria duo: The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby. In the US (and on the M&B website in the UK), there’s the second half of the duo: The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal. In the UK (on the M&B website), you can get an early copy of the first in her To Tame a Playboy duo, Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh (Modern Heat’s first sheikh!). And of course you can still get hold of the Presents enriched e-book of Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded...
You can find out more about these books, and Kate (who isn't really trying for world domination), on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)