Twenty-one-year-old Stella Banderas comes from an extremely good gene pool. Her parents are the actors Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, while her half-sister is Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson. But the matriarch of the family is Tippi Hedren, the iconic actress who collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock and is famous starring in for The Birds. Perhaps Stella will choose to follow in her footsteps. She’s certainly got the looks.
The circumstances of Stella’s birth caused a minor scandal back in the day. Her parents met in 1995 on the set of the film Two Much. They embarked on an affair – but both were married at the time. They hastily divorced their spouses, Spanish actress Ana Leza and Miami Vice star Don Johnson.
By the time the pair got married in May 1996, Griffith was pregnant. She gave birth to Stella a few months later, on September 24. Stella wasn’t the first child for Griffith, who already had two children – Alexander Bauer and Dakota Johnson – from two previous marriages. But she was the first child for Banderas.
Stella grew up in a seemingly loving family, learning both Spanish and English from her parents. And her father sang her praises in interviews. “My daughter, at 13 years old, is way more mature than me,” Banderas told People magazine in 2010. “I have one date night with my daughter every week. I take her for dinner by herself and we can talk, spend some time together.”
It seemed that family life was idyllic for all of them. “What I love about my family is how quickly and beautifully we became a family,” Banderas told Good Housekeeping magazine in 2011. “When I married Melanie, she had two kids and soon enough, we had Stella. Our favorite thing was for all five of us to get into bed, eat popcorn and watch TV. Even though the kids are older [now], we still do that.”
However, although the relationship between Antonio and Melanie had a very good run, it didn’t last. In June 2014, news hit that the couple were splitting. But it was an amicable divorce. “We have thoughtfully and consensually decided to finalize our almost 20-year marriage in a loving and friendly manner, honoring and respecting each other,” the pair said in a press statement at the time.
Stella was 17 at the time, about to turn 18. Her mother requested custody of her, with Banderas having only visitation rights. This raised a few eyebrows, with the media speculating that the divorce wasn’t quite as friendly as it seemed. “Seeking sole custody of a child in a divorce is NOT ‘thoughtful, loving, friendly, or respectful,’ especially when the child is almost 18 years old,” said Mark Baer of The Huffington Post.
But yet, everything seemed to work out for the best. Griffith and Banderas appeared to become co-parents to Stella. Both of them attended her graduation in 2015 and Griffith posted a picture on Instagram of all of them smiling together. “Mama, Stella and Papi,” she captioned it. “Our angel is amazing. Beginning the next chapter of her life! Freedom!!” She also posted another photo of Banderas and Stella sitting together, under which she wrote “So sweet.”
It was clear from the graduation photo: now that Stella had grown into adulthood, her resemblance to one member of her family was obvious. Although she looked quite a bit like both her mother and her half-sister, the younger sibling’s blonde hair and good looks put many people in mind of her grandmother, Tippi Hedren, when she was a young woman.
In the early ’60s, Tippi Hedren’s blonde hair and stylish appearance caught the attention of legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock, and he made her a star. She became arguably the most famous of the “Hitchcock blondes.” And although she turned 88 in January 2018, you can still see the resemblance between her and her granddaughter.
However, the mythology around Hedren and Hitchcock is complicated to say the least, so much so that that it’s still being talked about today. None of that deterred Stella though – she appeared in her father’s film Crazy in Alabama in 1999. That same year Griffith told the New York Daily News that she hoped that her children wouldn’t follow in her dramatic footsteps, as it was a “difficult life.”
That didn’t quite work out according to plan. Dakota Johnson, of course, went on to be a big movie star with the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise and there’s nothing stopping Stella from doing the same thing. She’s already accustomed to the Hollywood life and has walked several red carpets with her mother, grandmother and sister.
But Griffith was correct when she said acting was a difficult life. She suffered addiction issues all throughout her career, even drinking on the sets of movies. In 2009 she entered rehab for the third time. “The thought of my babies and husband really made me focus on my recovery,” she wrote on her website at the time.
Additionally, Hedren’s experience as an actress has been the stuff of speculation for a long time. Reportedly, the late Hitchcock was in love with her, but he was also demanding and controlling. During the filming of The Birds – their most famous film together – he reportedly terrorized her by making her fight off real birds.
Allegedly, the director also sexually assaulted her. Hedren wrote in her 2016 autobiography, Tippi: A Memoir, that one day Hitchcock called her over and “suddenly grabbed me and put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse and it was ugly.” She also said that when she turned down the director’s advances, he threatened to destroy her acting career completely.
In 2017, in the wake of the ousting of producer Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s pushback against sexual misconduct, Hedren came forward to compare Hitchcock to Weinstein. “I’m watching all the coverage on Weinstein. This is nothing new, nor is it limited to the entertainment industry,” she wrote on Twitter. “I dealt with sexual harassment all the time during my modeling and film career.”
And even after that, there was another strange chapter in the life of the Hedren-Griffith family. While her daughter Melanie was still young, Hedren developed a deep love of lions and even moved one into her house. This resulted in the film Roar, an incredibly dangerous production in which both Hedren and Griffith starred.
Treating lions like pets did indeed prove to be a terrible idea. Both Hedren and Griffiths ended up with injuries, and Hedren would later express regret at ever embarking on the project. But Stella, the next generation, seemed to be okay with what had happened. In May 2017, she posted a picture of young Griffith in bed with a lion. “Happy Mother’s Day to my wild mama,” she captioned it.
Stella posts a lot of pictures of herself on Instagram, and she looks more and more like Tippi Hedren every day. In February 2018 she posted a very short video of herself holding a dog, looking the absolute picture of Hollywood glamour. With her hair tied up and tousled, the resemblance between her and Hedren was almost uncanny.
Stella may end up doing what so many other members of her family have done and embarking on an acting career. But whatever she does, it seems that her parents and famous grandmother will support her just like they’ve supported her sister, Dakota. They may well think that she might just have better experiences in the industry than they did.