‘The 33’: Antonio Banderas And The Story Of The 2010 Chile Mining Disaster [Videos]

Antonio Banderas is the lead actor in the story of the 33 miners, trapped underground in a mine in Chile for over two months. He speaks about the harrowing tale the film The 33 is based on.

Back in October, 2010, 33 miners were buried alive and trapped underground in the San José Mine in Chile, desperately waiting for rescue. While it seemed impossible, after 69 days, the miners were rescued. Their story is one of amazing survival against the odds, and it has now been launched onto the big screen.

In The 33, Antonio Banderas plays the part of Mario Sepulveda, who acted as one of the leaders of the trapped group of miners and who kept their spirits up until they were finally rescued in October, 2010. Sepulveda became known as “Super Mario” for his efforts in keeping the miners’ hopes alive.

Banderas was interviewed by CBN News and asked about his experiences in making the movie and meeting Sepulveda himself. He is asked what was it about Mario Sepulveda that kept him ready to believe in rescue, while the other men were simply giving up. Banderas said that Sepulveda was not a quitter, “he’s a man of faith and he’s crazy.”

Banderas added that the craziness was contagious and Sepulveda knew that. He said the miner knew he could transmit that kind of energy to the rest of the group. He said Sepulveda was not a man who was going to sit down and wait for death.

While most of the miners thought that the company would give up on them and eventually place gravestones in their memory, Sepulveda knew that their families would not give up on them easily. According to Antonio Banderas, Chilean women are very strong, and they would not allow the miners to remain trapped underground. The women fought against the authorities to make the rescue happen.

When Antonio Banderas was asked his feelings on meeting Sepulveda, he said he was fascinated but also a little frustrated. Sepulveda told him so much about their experiences underground, and he said he would liked to have included more of them in the film.

“He’s a machine. He doesn’t stop telling you things that happened — almost like a diary of everything that happened by the minute.”

He mentioned that Sepulveda is a sort of bi-polar personality, and that one minute he is up there with God, and the next with the devil, but that he recognized himself as a human being. Sepulveda himself stressed that he is not a hero, he has his problems and he works with them through life, dealing with them.

The interviewer mentioned that he was surprised that while the miners’ situation was so dire, there was still laughter in the film. He asked Banderas how important that laughter was for the men, to which he replied, “It was crucial,” adding that even now the men make cruel jokes with each other about their experiences.

Banderas said that the miners even played soccer games while under the ground.

“They had no protein, no calories, and they start playing soccer.”

“Is that crazy or what?”

When filming The 33, they reportedly filmed a soccer game underground inside the mine, but regrettably, there was no space for it in the final movie.

Obviously, with little access to nourishment, the miners lost a lot of weight while they were trapped in the mine. Asked how he and the other actors managed their diet while filming The 33, Antonio Banderas laughingly explained they had a nutritionalist helping them “with food that was not human.”

Banderas said it was difficult when spending 12 hours filming in a mine, as you need something “like a steak with French fries or something, and you got some lettuce and things, like a rabbit.”

The actors did, however, follow the diet while making the film in order to lose weight and look the part.

Others in the cast include Lou Diamond Phillips as Sepulveda’s boss, Don Lucho, Gabriel Byrne as André Sougarret, who masterminded the rescue operation, Juliette Binoche as María Segovia, and James Brolin as Jeff Hart.

The interview with Antonio Banderas is included here, and while the film is moving and the story amazing, there is some controversy over the situation after the rescued, as explained below.

Despite the buzz of the film The 33, and the amazing story it tells, the miners themselves feel cheated to a certain degree. Many of them are still looking for work after the mine in which they were employed was destroyed. While they were pleased they lived through the terrifying ordeal, their families are still struggling to get by.

The Nation quotes Jessica Cortes, the wife of Victor Zamora, one of the miners involved in the disaster as saying, “We have felt abandoned from the start.”

“I have lived through these anxious years with him day after day, seeing how he gets depressed at not finding a job and at feeling cheated.”

While the story of the miners’ survival warmed the hearts of people worldwide, it is still a constant struggle for the men in the years following the disaster.

The trailer of the film The 33 is included below and the film itself opened in theaters Friday.

[Photo: Screen capture from YouTube]