Antonio Banderas on Why He Said Yes to 'Genius: Picasso': "It's Now or Never"

The actor has been asked to portray the iconic artist several times in the past.

Antonio Banderas steps into the shoes of the iconic artist Pablo Picasso on Genius: Picasso, but while the opportunity to portray the artist has come up in the past, he tells The Hollywood Reporter In Studio that this project with National Geographic finally felt right.

“I suppose that I needed more experience. I needed to also get rid of certain fears I had to play a man that was born in my hometown, and there was a sense of responsibility attached, of the possibility of playing him,” he explains. “So I thought, ‘OK. It’s now or never.’ And I jumped into it, and took a leap.”

Growing up in in Málaga, Spain, also Picasso's hometown, made perfecting the artist’s accent simple for Banderas, but “trying to understand the dark side of the character” was one of the challenges.

“I was born with the idea of Picasso as a hero, so for me just to confront the fact that, actually, he was a human being was not easy, even when he was painting,” he said. “So I have to just put all the morality judgements that I may have over the character aside in order to try to understand why he did and said the things that he did and he said at the time. So that was the most difficult part, trying to understand him, because we know the things that he said and we know the things that he did, but we don’t know his mind.”

“His art was the only thing really, really, really important. He was very self-centered character, very egotistical, but like all geniuses in a way.”

Genius: Picasso airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on National Geographic.