Ana Leza is not a name that is familiar to many people. However, she had a part in bringing to fame one of our most-loved actors, his name? Antonio Banderas. Though she is an actress by profession, her relationship and marriage to The Mask of Zorro star brought her to the fore. Unfortunately, their marriage lasted barely a decade and left him in financial distress thanks to a huge divorce payout. Thankfully, Banderas survived that period as he continued to stay relevant in the movie industry. He struck gold with his role in 2019’s Spanish drama film, Pain and Glory, which Time chose for its best movie of the year. Voice roles in successful animated films have also contributed to his wealth which is valued at $50 million. Both former couples have moved on, dated, married, and even had kids with other people.
Ana Leza Was Raised By An Actress Mom
Ana Leza was born in 1962 in Madrid, Madrid, Spain. She is said to be of Hispanic ethnicity. Though information about her father has not been revealed, it is known that her mother is Concha Leza, a popular and prolific Spanish actress with about 90 acting credits to her name both on the small and big screen.
Leza’s mother was born as María de la Concepción Leza Núñez. She got her debut in the Spanish TV series Tiempo Alegre in 1964, a time when Ana Leza would have been two years old. She grew up watching her mother act, and she grew herself to love entertainment. Ana Leza’s mother is best known for her works in Historias para no dormir (1966), Foul Play (1977), and Outrage (1993). She even has a more successful acting career than her daughter Ana. Her most recent gig was in a TV show in 2009.
Apart from details about her mother, not much is known about Ana Leza’s background, including the schools she attended.
Ana Leza and Antonio Banderas Married After Dating For 6 Months
What began as a professional relationship soon snowballed into romance; one can imagine how all that time spent teaching Banderas to pronounce English words formed a strong bond between them. After a whirlwind romance that lasted for just six months, Banderas was ready to take things to the next level with Leza as he asked for her hand.
On 27 July 1987, Antonio Banderas and Ana Leza were joined in marriage. Their wedding was held at the Church of San Nicolás in Madrid. Guests in attendance included Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar who is credited with bringing Banderas international stardom, and Carmen Maura, a Spanish actress who also featured in many of Almodóvar’s films.
As a couple, Leza and Banderas attended several red carpet events together, including the premiere of the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs at Loews 19th Street Theatre in New York City.
She Was Antonio Banderas’ Translator
Ana Leza proved to be of huge help to Antonio Banderas’ acting career. Their relationship first began on a professional level when she was hired to be Banderas’ private English teacher and translator. It was a time when the Spanish actor was looking to transition into Hollywood, but his English was very bad.
Ana’s tutoring was beneficial – in 1992, Antonio Banderas booked a part in his first American film, The Mambo Kings. He later revealed to Vanity Fair in an interview that Ana Leza helped him work on the movie’s script and that he would not have been able to land the role if not for her. He told VF that working with Leza gave him a lot of confidence.
Leza said of her tutoring job that it was important that she accompany him to the United States since she spoke English fluently.
Banderas Would Go On To Earn International Recognition In American Films
Armed with a good command of English thanks to Ana Leza’s tutoring skills, Antonio Banderas became one of the actors of Spanish origins to dominate Hollywood. He rapidly expanded his Hollywood filmography to include movies such as Philadelphia (1993), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Desperado (1995), Assassins (1995), Evita (1996), and The Mask of Zorro (1998).
Confident with his English by the 2000s, Banderas thought to give American theater a try in 2003, and he did exceptionally well. His American theater debut was in Nine, for which he earned a Tony nod and an award from Drama Desk.
Antonio Banderas has also found fame on the small screen; he earned much critical acclaim for his portrayal of Pablo Picasso in the Season 2 of the series, Genius. In 2005, Banderas’ contributions to the movie industry earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been nominated for Oscars, Golden Globe, and Primetime Emmy Awards but is yet to bag any. He received much critical praise for Pain and Glory and earned a Cannes Film Festival for Best Actor.
Why Did Ana Leza and Antonio Banderas Divorce?
Ana Leza and Banderas’ love story could make for a romantic movie script, however, it all seemed to have been fiction with the way it ended in a messy divorce that stripped Banderas off a chunk of his wealth. They separated in 1995. Though the reason behind their split was not made public, speculations were that it was due to Banderas’ romance with actress Melanie Griffith whom he met on the set of the 1995 movie, Two Much.
In the divorce settlement, Ana Leza was given ownership of their home, valued at about $4 million. The court also ordered Banderas to pay Leza monthly alimony of $14,100.60. Additionally, she was awarded 50% of the proceeds of Banderas’ income from the movies he starred in during their marriage.
Banderas bitterly complained of the 8-day trial in his 2004 interview with VF. He called it a business and hinted that the court completely ripped him off.
Ana Leza Had A Brief Acting Career
Ana Leza learned a thing or two about acting from being raised by an actress mom. She began acting in 1984, making her debut in the TV series Teresa de Jesús. She also appeared in a mini-series Fragmentos de interior the same year.
In the period they were together, Ana Leza acted in the same film as Banderas; some of those include 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, De amor y Sombra, and 1993’s Philadelphia. Ana Leza’s last recorded acting gig is 1994’s Of Love and Shadows. She seemed to have abandoned her acting career after her split from Banderas.
Ana Leza Is Now Married To Dharma Villareal
About four years after her split from Banderas, Ana Leza married Dharma Villareal on 26 November 2000. The wedding which had in attendance Carmen Maura, who also witnessed her first wedding, was held in Santa Barbara, California.
Leza’s new husband is a native of Ojai in California and works as an editor and documentarian for Xerox Company. Per VF, the couple lived in Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, and Madrid before finally settling in New York.
Due to their frequent travels, both Leza and her husband discovered Siddha Yoga Meditation, a mystical organization of Hindu origin, and are now ardent followers of their teachings. They are parents to two daughters Clara María and Sofia Macarena, who have also been introduced to Siddha Yoga.