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Although based on McCulley's well-known character, The Mask of Zorro is very different from previous interpretations of the story

Although based on McCulley's well-known character, The Mask of Zorro is very different from previous interpretations of the story. "Ours is not the traditional story of Zorro being a nobleman's son," says Director Martin Campbell. "Our story has much more to do with a Merlin/King Arthur type of relationship, where an older Zorro trains a younger man to become his successor."

Campbell was attracted to the character of Zorro because he is an anachronism in the '90s action genre-characterized by gratuitous violence and a decidedly hard edge-who still generates excitement and retains tremendous appeal. "Zorro is the perfect hero," says Campbell. "From a moral point of view, he doesn't go out to kill as many bad guys as he can-he cleverly disables them, embarrasses them and makes fools of them. I thought it would be interesting to bring such a character to the screen today." Adds MacDonald, "In this time of big special effects movies, The Mask of Zorro seems strangely new." It is no accident that The Mask of Zorro, which teams lightning-paced adventure, daredevil stunts and acrobatic swordplay with drama, suspense, classic romance, and a tender reunion story, evokes great adventure films of the past. "I wanted this film to look like one of those big Hollywood epics with tremendous action, romance, and fun," says Campbell. "Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., had this terrific sense of humor with the character, a real joie de vivre, very dashing and funny. I wanted that for our film."

The actor whom all agreed was capable of bringing these qualities to the production was Antonio Banderas. "Antonio has all the attributes I wanted for Zorro," says Campbell. "He is a very fine actor-dashing and physical as well-who easily conveys compassion and has a great sense of humor. If ever there was a perfect Zorro, it is Antonio." The filmmakers were ecstatic when Anthony Hopkins agreed to join the cast as de la Vega. "Tony Hopkins was the icing on the cake," says Producer Doug Claybourne. Adds Campbell, "He's the nobility in the film. He brings tremendous weight and depth to the character." Banderas was equally thrilled about Hopkins. "To work with Anthony is an honor for me," he says. "I was so nervous the first few days that I couldn't stop my legs from shaking." Hopkins returns the praise: "Antonio has endless ideas and tremendous energy and enthusiasm. We had a lot of fun working together."

Catherine Zeta-Jones was cast in the role of Elena after Steven Spielberg caught her on television in the miniseries, "The Titanic." Many predict The Mask of Zorro will be her breakout film. "I think she's going to be a major star," says Producer David Foster. "It is a tough role-very physically and emotionally demanding. But Catherine can handle it." Foster adds, "We are lucky to have an executive producer named Steven Spielberg who brought her to our attention." The Mask of Zorro was filmed entirely on location in Central Mexico. Production began at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City on January 27, 1997. Filming continued at the San Blas hacienda outside the city of Tlaxcala; the Tetlapayac hacienda outside Pachuca in the state of Hildago, the church of Santa Maria and along the beaches of Guaymas before returning to Mexico City in April. Principal photography was completed in May 1997.

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