It has been five years since Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith parted ways, but they have remained in each other’s lives — and the actor has had nothing but kind words to say about the time he was married to his now ex-wife.

It all kicked off on November 3, when Melanie’s eldest daughter, actress Dakota Johnson, couldn’t help but to gush about her stepfather after presenting the 59-year-old with a Hollywood Actor Award for his performance in Pain and Glory at the Hollywood Film Awards. “He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together,” she shared during her speech, a message that really opened Antonio’s eyes.

“It was all a surprise,” the Golden Globe nominee told E! News afterwards. “Totally. I mean, I knew that she was going to give the speech, but I had no idea whatsoever how she was going to just do her speech, she didn’t tell me anything.”

Antonio Banderas Melanie Griffith Dakota Johnson
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“I thought and felt that all of those years,” the Hollywood star continued, revealing that his stepdaughter’s words helped him realize something. “But I knew that it was a confirmation that all of those years that Melanie and I spent together, they were years that was not only just about Melanie and me, they were about the family. They were worth it all.”

“It’s because of the way we understood our relationship, and the relationship that we have with the people that love us and that were surrounding us, especially our kids,” Antonio added. “And I think Dakota took that expressing in a very beautiful way because she was, and she is and she will be very important to me.”

Antonio Banderas Melanie Griffith
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The Working Girl actress shares Dakota with her ex-husband Don Johnson. As for her and Antonio, they tied the knot in 1996 before splitting in 2015. They had one child — daughter Stella, 23. However, Melanie knows just how important Antonio was to her life.

“Really Antonio Banderas,” an insider once exclusively told Closer Weekly about who the love of Melanie’s life is. “She’s sad that didn’t work out. They are friends because of their daughter Stella. But she feels profoundly truly sad that marriage didn’t last.”

We are just glad that the two remain such big parts of each other’s lives.