Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Serge Nubret on his film career.

Serge Nubret: As a bodybuilder, I won the Mister Universe contest, and one day in the gym (in France), there arrived two men who were looking for a black athlete to appear in ARRIVANO I TITANI (aka SONS OF THUNDER, aka MY SON THE HERO), and it seemed as if I had impressed them. They presented me in front of (Alexander) Mnouchkine in the production offices. I took off my shirt and Mnouchkine said, "Great!"
A few days after that, I went to Rome to do a screen test, and spent three months there and three in Spain for the interiors. As soon as I arrived, I met Giuliano Gemma, the hero of the film, with whom I rehearsed for several weeks on the fight between Rator and Crios. He was a gymnast, who could do all the exercises. He had never done cinema either, but, like all the Italians, he had been an extra several times. His hair was bleached for the film. So finally I made my entry onto the set of the Vides production; a rather intimidating experience.
In the first scene that I filmed, I had to smash a stool on the head of a soldier. In the environment of a (flimsy) set built for the production, I think it was solid enough to be used over again.
(Duccio) Tessari, the director, seemed to me a cordial man, nice, eccentric in his behavior and mode of dress. He always laughed. The crew was very nice and helped me as much as they could. I think, though, that an assistant of Tessari helped me for other motives: he almost fainted when I stripped off for the first time, and then he always had to accompany me to the hotel in his car. I hardly saw the principal actors, we had few scenes with them, and then there was a kind of discrimination between them and me and Gemma. The general players instead were very brotherly. They have become accustomed to doing all the ancient films, and it's their specialty. With them I didn't feel an unpleasant impression of being half-naked amongst clothed people.
We filmed the fight in Madrid, which by now we had committed to memory. Fighting with Gemma was a pleasure, he was a friend, an equal. With him, there was no rivalry like that which seemed to exist amongst American bodybuilders, who tell tales when their partner has bigger muscles than their's.
I went to Rome again to do the final scenes, where all the faces around us had changed, a great confusion. And then I returned to France with my 80,000 francs of profit above my expenses. Then I went back to Italy another time to do a film with Gordon Scott, but without half the quality of the first; another thing entirely. A tiny film, something unbelievable. It's a wonder that people would go to see such a thing. A few weeks of work, a single take for each shot, even when some technician said that it hadn't worked. Gordon Scott made two films of this type simultaneously, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I think that (in a situation like this) the film crews can't help making mistakes.

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