Casting sizzling stars Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek to lend their voices to “Puss in Boots” feels comparable to broadcasting the “Miss Universe” pageant on the radio.
Of course, the accents of Spaniard Banderas and Mexican Hayek are plenty smoldering too. In the 3-D animated “Puss,” opening Oct. 28, Banderas voices the titular feline outlaw (originated in 17th century literature and seen recently in the “Shrek” franchise) and Hayek is Puss’ colleague, Kitty Softpaws. The pair works with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) to steal golden eggs from a castle in the sky.
By the way, you’re not alone if you found that last sentence ridiculous.
At the Four Seasons Hotel, Banderas, 51, and Hayek, 45, previously seen together in “Desperado,” “Frida,” “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” and “Spy Kids 3-D Game Over,” talked about the perks of being a cat, their own levels of sexiness and the warning signs of a feline-driven apocalypse.
What cat perk do you envy more: Getting your way by pouting or licking yourself clean?
Antonio Banderas: I don’t know. [Laughs.]
Salma Hayek: Lick yourself clean. It’s pretty cool, that one.
AB: Though Puss in Boots gets dirty sometimes. He likes that. He prefers the mud.
SH: I know, but you can lick yourself clean.
AB: It’s true.
SH: You get clean by licking at yourself.
AB: He’s such a debonair guy and such a gentle cat as I play. Both. He has to get clean probably.
So it’s not socially appropriate for humans to try that?
AB: Uh, no. It depends on the situation.
SH: [Looking at our video camera filming the interview.] This is for what channel? Is this for kids?
No, not for kids.
SH: It’s for what?
SH: [Laughs.] I think humans have been trying that for a long time. It just doesn’t work the same.
How much research goes into playing cat thieves who are partners with an egg?
AB: Well after being for 10 years around this character, I did all the research that I needed for him. And it’s just fun to play him. It’s embarrassingly easy. I feel bad saying that [laughs], but it’s true, and you feel very free.
SH: I did not research. I’m a bad actress. A bad egg. No research at all. Because I had already seen all the “Shrek” movies, and I loved them. I particularly loved Puss in Boots, so I already knew everything about that character, and [Banderas is] so good that it was so easy to play off of him.
What would you think if all cats started walking around on their hind legs like Puss and Kitty?
AB: I would think that 2012 thing was true.
AB: Because probably that would be the end of the world. If cats start talking and walking with boots and a hat and a sword on the street of the whole entire world, you just go and talk to your psychiatric—
AB: And he’s going to give you a big prescription. [Laughs.] And all the other ways that the world is finishing. [Laughs.]
What makes you think they would attack? Maybe they’d be protecting us.
AB: Yeah, but it would be pretty weird. It would be pretty weird. We have to accept that this is a reality that only happens in Hollywood, man. Come on!
Our reader @circuitmom was wondering: Salma is always so calm. What gets her fired up/angry?
SH: Ooh. [Laughs.] What gets me angry? Injustice gets me angry. Oh, injustice really gets me angry. That would be the biggest one.
Antonio, what about you?
AB: Did he also say that I am [calm]? Because I am very fiery.
So a lot of things get you fired up.
AB: Many things. I have many things that make me angry but I may not actually show it that way. I just try to make sense with it and then do whatever I can do in order to correct things that I see in my life, personal life and social life that I don’t like. But try to do them from a calm point of view.
SH: I’ll confess to you what makes me cranky. Hunger! If it don’t eat, oh my God, I’m not as calm. [Laughs.] I need to have my sugar levels [in place].
How does that impact your behavior?
SH: I can be calm as long as I have food inside of me. I get really anxious if I’m very hungry.
On IMDB someone commented about Antonio, saying, “He is the hottest old guy.”
Are you happy to be called hot or angry to be called old?
AB: I am very happy for the people to start calling me what I am, an older guy. I am 51 years old, very happy about it. And I am not going to do anything to change whatever nature is going to put on my face or my body. I’ll take it. I’ll take it like a man.
You both seem very humble about your appearances. Convince me why your co-star is sexier than you.
SH: We never felt that our co-star was sexier than we are. We both think that each one of us is the sexiest. We fight about this all the time!
SH: Oh yeah.
How do those fights go?
SH: Just kidding.
AB: [Looks at her]
SH: I’m just kidding.
AB: I was just getting surprised!
SH: Of course, I will tell you why he is sexier than me—because he doesn’t put makeup on. Do you know how long it takes me to look like this?
SH: An hour and a half. I have a lot of hair. He just wakes up and he comes over here.
So you could emulate Antonio’s hairstyle.
SH: Do you know how I would look if I had that hair … see, he doesn’t even need hair!
In the movie, Puss says cat people are crazy. Why do cat people tend to be crazier than dog people?
SH: I didn’t say that, so I don’t have to answer.
AB: Cat people are supposed to be crazier … I have a mother-in-law [Tippi Hedren] who has 72 lions. For real. We live in a very feline family. We have four cats in Los Angeles and Melanie [Griffith] is a Leo, I am a Leo. And our son is a Leo. So we are surrounded by Leo and definitely, definitely it’s true. We are nuts in my family. And I actually love it. Why is the reason? I’m not going to analyze ... I don’t want to put a reason in the middle of that. Just be. I’m totally nuts. Otherwise I wouldn’t be an actor.
Salma, you have dogs and you’ve said that to love you is to love your dogs. What would they say if they knew you were voicing a cat?
SH: I have a cat too. I have a little bit of everything.
So it’s all equal at your house.
SH: Well, not equal. I do have 10 dogs, one cat. Four alpacas, four ducks, four parrots, two guinea pigs, five horses, 20 chickens. I got a lot of pets.
AB: And an ant.
What do Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas think of when they hear Chicago?
Hayek: “Pizza. Popcorn. Oprah [Winfrey]. Architecture.”
Banderas: “Jazz. I think of theater. I think of architecture. I think of a lake that looks like an ocean.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the Umpais@tribune.com. @mattpais