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Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek Bring 'Puss in Boots' to France (Cannes)

DWA presents 15 minutes of footage from the 3D film.

Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek
Francois Durand/Getty Images
Antonio Banderas, left, and Salma Hayek

CANNES -- As he has done many times in the 10 years since Shrek played in competition here, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg brought a new film to Cannes. This time, it was Puss in Boots, centered on the grumpy green ogre’s swashbuckling feline cohort, who now has his own origin story.

Katzenberg and director Chris Miller, who helmed and co-wrote Shrek the Third, introduced approximately 15 minutes of 3D footage at the Cinema Miramar Wednesday morning. (The film doesn’t hit theaters until November.)

“This has become a wonderful tradition for us,” said Katzenberg, who noted that Miller, a longtime Shrek franchise participant, had over the years “fallen deeply, and somewhat awkwardly, in love with a cat.”

Miller described the gestation process as one sparked by wondering just where Puss, voiced by Antonio Banderas, got his boots, his accent and his outsized confidence for such a small creature. Thus, the origin story was developed for a kitty sometimes referred to as “The Furry Lover,” “Chupacabra” or “El Diablo Gato,” who Miller described as having “a big heart and just enough of the devil in him.”

The stylized footage included an introduction to the corpulent villain outlaws Jack and Jill, voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris, a rooftop chase between Puss and a mystery thief, an extended dance and sword fight in an underground cat hangout and a plot hatched between Puss, his onetime betrayer Humpty Alexander Dumpty, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, and the sexy Kitty Southpaws, voiced by Salma Hayek, to steal some magic beans.

Afterward, Miller brought Banderas and Hayek onstage and said of Banderas: “He is the cat -- the cat is him.”

“Meow,” responded the Spanish actor, who had his typical fun with the proceedings. At one point, he put on his 3D glasses, scanned Hayek up and down and said to the crowd, “You cannot see what I am seeing. Whoa, Salma!”

Among other questions, the actors were asked how they felt about representing Latino Americans in Hollywood. “I feel very proud,” said Banderas. “I never pretended when I first went to Hollywood that I was a guy from Oklahoma.” Pointing to the breadth of roles Latinos now play, Hayek joked, “Now we even get to play cats!” (“Cats were British, traditionally,” cracked Banderas.)

Hayek went on to compliment DreamWorks Animation for creating in Puss in Boots “a world inspired by our heritage. It just shows you how far we’ve come.”

Banderas is also in the Cannes program as the star of Pedro Almodovar’s competition drama The Skin I Live In. “Art serves many purposes -- all of them are legitimate,” the actor said of doing such diverse roles. He noted that it had been 21 years since he last starred for Almodovar, in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, and with the new horror film the writer-director was “trying to do a totally different dish.”

Hayek got the best laugh, though, when a reporter from Israel asked how the two actors felt about aging in Hollywood. “We wouldn’t know that yet,” said the 44-year-old actress, sitting next to her 50-year-old co-star. “But we’ll get back to you.”

E-mail: jay.fernandez@thr.com