updated 09/22/2011 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 09/22/2011 AT 8:00 AM ET
In 15 years of marriage, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith “have had as many problems as anybody,” he admits. Among them was Griffith’s stint in rehab, her third, two years ago.
This openness extends to their children, says Banderas. The couple have one daughter together, Stella, who turns 15 this week. Griffith also has two children from previous relationships, Alexander, 26, and Dakota, 21.
“The pretending is the worst, because kids are so smart,” Banderas says. “They can see through all of those things, and if you don’t talk openly about problems, it creates a very dark place. They carry that through the rest of their lives, to their marriages, to their kids.”
Banderas, 51, and Griffith, 54, have differing memories of dealing with Griffith’s most recent relapse. According to him, the whole family participated in Griffith’s recovery. We did all the therapies together.”
In a separate interview with the magazine, however, Griffith says, “I’m sorry to say, that’s in his mind. I started on pain pills when I hurt my knee skiing and just kept taking them. The kids knew; Dakota and Stella called me on it. Antonio was in London at the time. I went away to rehab for three months; it took 10 days just to detox. We had two family weeks there, but we didn’t follow through.”
She is also quick to add, “I don’t mean that against him. I would like him to do more, but it’s a difficult thing to have happen in any family, and in that way he has been totally by my side. He really is the greatest guy.”
The two met in 1995 on the set of Two Much, when both were married to other people.
“I saw this sweet, vulnerable soul, funny, also very smart and generous,” recalls Banderas. “I saw her with her kids, and she was so beautiful as a mom.”
Griffith says her costar and future husband made quite a first impression.
“The first thing he asked me was my age,” she remembers. “I said, ‘That’s the rudest thing anyone has asked me first.’ But there was something about him. Still is. I just love him.”