I had chosen (Giuliano) Gemma for a tiny role in MESSALINA VENERE IMPERATRICE (MESSALINA, 1960), that of the beheaded man. In the sense that he was beheaded off-screen and then Messalina, during the banquet sequence, lifts the lid of a tray and finds his head beneath it. He was forced to stay in this position all day with a tray that had been built around his neck, and on which they had placed strips of cow meat to make the edges less clean and the effect more realistic, whilst underneath the rest of him was dressed as a fireman because, as soon as he had completed the scene, he was obliged to represent the vigilant body of firefighters who were attached to miliary service.
Gemma had struck me with his good character and patience. However, after MESSALINA, I totally forgot about him, up to a morning four years later, when I ran into him by chance while I wandered betweent he market stalls of Porta Portese in search of Gramophone records. At the time I was completing the auditions for ARRIVANO I TITANI (aka SONS OF THUNDER, aka MY SON THE HERO). I wanted him, (Franco) Cristaldi was undecided, and I had to perform a small opera of convincing arguments before I was able to offer Gemma the role. Then Gemma again disappeared from my horizon, and I made several other films but without finding too much success, until three years later, after I had written PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS), it came into my head to do a Western and I took him on as my protagonist.