This is rare, nuanced storytelling, anchored by one of Brad Pitt’s career-best performances and remarkable technical elements on every level. It’s a special film.
Thirteen things I learned while talking with Marcello Mastroianni:
1. He thinks friendship is very important. “For example, friendship between a father and a son, a mother and a daughter, a husband and a wife, or a husband and his mistress.”
2. When I asked if friendship was possible between a man’s wife and his mistress, he shrugged, spread his hands, and said, “Now you ask too much.”
3. His favorite among all of his movies is Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2,” in which he plays an incurably promiscuous ladies’ man. His next favorite is Ettore Scola’s “A Special Day,” in which he plays a homosexual.
4. He hates playing romantic scenes in the movies. “First they tell you, don’t look in her eyes, it makes your eyes too white. Look in her ear. Then they tell you to twist so that the camera can see you. By the end of a day in bed, your back is all sprained and sore. Usually the actress you are making love with is the mistress of the producer, and he is standing right next to the camera to make sure you don’t get away with anything. Meanwhile, the actress is interested to see if you are excited by her closeness. But I know she is interested, and so the more she presses against me, the less excited I become. Meanwhile, I must remember all of my dialogue. I would rather do a dramatic scene any day.”
5. His most uncomfortable love scene was in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” where “I had to stand up to my knees in a fountain of cold water in the winter, at dawn, with Anita Ekberg, a Swede whose skin is so white that when I touched her cheek, my nicotine-stained fingers looked so dark they had to put makeup on them. Fellini looked at my brown fingers and told me I should learn the right way to wipe my behind.”
6. In his new movie, “Macaroni,” he co-stars with Jack Lemmon in the story of two men who meet in Naples after World War II, and then meet again 40 years later. “Lemmon is considered by the Americans to be a very excitable actor,” Mastroianni said, “but in Italy, he seems very quiet, very calm. He is almost British.”
7. There used to be 300 movies a year made in Italy. Now there are less than 50. It is all because of the uncertain financial situation. Mastroianni still works regularly, however.
8. He once met a little old lady in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York, who asked him, “Why did Sophia Loren dress so strangely in the movie you made called ‘The Priest’s Wife’?” Mastroianni complimented her on her taste, since he also thought Loren dressed strangely in the movie, but nobody else had ever mentioned it until he met the little old lady.
9. Fellini, like most Italian directors, likes to talk during the filming of a scene, shouting instructions to his actors and then dubbing in their dialogue later. When an actor makes him angry, Fellini does not give him any dialogue to speak, but simply makes him count from one to 10, knowing the dialogue can be dubbed afterward.
10. When Fellini made “La Dolce Vita” all of the actors spoke in their native tongues and were later dubbed into Italian. Mastroianni thinks the original version, with all the different languages, was a better way to reflect the movie’s vision of a hell on earth.
11. He has just finished shooting “Fred and Ginger,” the new Fellini film, which is not about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but about two second-rate Italian dancers who hope that people will see the names on the marquee and think they are going to get the real thing.
12. "When I observed that in all of Fellini’s movies the wife wears glasses and the mistress has a big bosom, Fellini asked what was so strange about that."
13. “My favorite movie love scene is when Mickey kisses Minnie and pop-pop-pop, little red hearts appear in the air between them.”
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