Created in 1919, Zorro — the original caped crusader — has been a pop culture icon for over 100 years. The swashbuckling, sword-wielding vigilante became a household name in 1998 when the movie, The Mask of Zorro, hit theaters. Audiences fell in love with the debonair masked outlaw, portrayed by Antonio Banderas.
Love the movie? Check out these 10 things you never knew about Zorro:
Before Martin Campbell signed on to direct The Mask of Zorro, Mexican-American director Robert Rodriguez was at the helm. Rodriguez cast Antonio Banderas, whom he’d worked with previously on Desperado, as Alejandro Murrieta. Rodriguez later dropped out due to budget issues with the studio, but Banderas stayed on and embodied the iconic part.
Sean Connery reportedly turned down the role of the aging Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega. The role eventually went to Anthony Hopkins, a dramatic actor who desperately wanted to star in an action film.
Casting the role of Elena proved to be an incredibly taxing task. The studio considered multiple actresses for the role, and, rumor has it, executive producer Steven Spielberg even offered Shakira the part. Yes, that Shakira. The Colombian singer passed on the role because she didn’t feel confident in her acting abilities or her English-speaking skills.
Before he dropped out of the film, Robert Rodriguez had his eye on another well-known actress for the part of Elena: Salma Hayek. Rodriguez had a strong working relationship with the actress, whom he’d previously cast in Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. In the end, the role went to neither Hayek nor Shakira. Instead, Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones played Elena.
In preparation for the role as the iconic sword-slinging outlaw, Antonio Banderas trained with legendary sword trainer Bob Anderson, who famously trained Errol Flynn. Anderson, who also fought as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, reportedly remarked that Banderas was among the most gifted swordsmen he’d ever worked with.
Reportedly, Banderas also trained with the Spanish Olympic Fencing Team — using real steel swords! Now, that’s dedication.
Who could forget the infamous scene when Alejandro Murrieta swipes off Elena Montero's dress with a single flick of his sword? Well, in real life, it didn't happen quite that easily. In order to accomplish the effect of the dress falling from her body, filmmakers attached a thin wire to the dress that was pulled when the director called "action."
In a 2006 E! television special, both Banderas and Zeta-Jones admitted that the erotic scene turned them on during filming.
You remember that glorious scene when Zorro whips out his sword, and it catches the light from the sun just as he’s about to fight Captain Love? Surprisingly, that effect wasn't achieved with a computer. Banderas apparently came up with the idea himself, and they filmed it using natural light in just three takes.
Originally, the movie (spoiler alert) ended when De la Vega dies in the arms of his daughter, Elena. Steven Spielberg and director Martin Campbell, however, believed the ending to be too sad. They made the decision to film an extra scene — three months after production had ended. The final scene pictures Alejandro and Elena happily married with their infant son.
Adrian Alonso, who played Joaquin in the sequel The Legend of Zorro, only spoke Spanish when he filmed his parts for the English-language movie. In order to deliver his lines, he learned them all phonentically.
Could Gael Garcia Bernal be the next Zorro?
Rumors have circulated for years that the Mexican actor will reprise the role in a reboot of the original legend. Back in 2011, the Los Angeles Times described the incarnation as “less a crusader for justice than a one-man vigilante force bent on revenge, in a western story that echoes of both Sergio Leone and No Country For Old Men.” No word has been heard about that particular project in several years.
In early 2014, Deadline reported that Sony had plans to release their own reboot in the style of The Dark Knight. This reincarnation of Zorro boasted a “new backstory, gritty realism, and emotional core.” Again, no word on what has happened to the project — although many believe it will be released in 2016.