Antonio Banderas refused to give up work after his heart attack because he didn't want to live life like he's ''already dead''.

The 57-year-old actor was rushed to hospital last year after suffering chest pains while exercising, and while he turned out to be suffering from a heart attack, the 'Mask of Zorro' star couldn't bear to stop acting afterwards because he wanted to ''eat [himself] alive''.

He said: ''I take the drugs [the doctors] recommended. I thought I was going to stop working a little bit more, but I decided not to because I missed my life and that's it.

''Sometimes I complain that I need to stop or need some rest, but after two days I want to eat myself alive.

''This is what I do, this is my life. I don't want to live my life like I'm already dead. I'm just going to live it, and if I die, I die.''

Despite carrying on with work, Antonio admits he was ''scared'' when he suffered chest pains and has stopped smoking since.

He said: ''It was scary, to tell you the truth. It was something that I knew before, but then you see it very clearly in front of you - and that's that the existence of death is very real.

''I stopped smoking. I do a lot of sport.''

As well as continuing to act in movies, Antonio - who split from wife Melanie Griffith in 2015 after 19 years together - is determined to learn new skills as he did when he released a fashion collection in 2016.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, he added: ''I have been a student my whole life, I don't stop studying and I'm going to continue. I don't consider myself a master of anything.

''I was never worried about a career. I never thought I had to be very careful about my next choice because I had to preserve the type of actor that people perceive me to be - because then you are not free any more.''