Monday, April 20, 2009
Leone on Gian Maria Volonte
Sergio Leone: Volonte is a great character actor who got bumped up to protagonist, a bit what happened, years later, with (Giancarlo) Giannini. An idea of mine that I think fundamentally shaped his role was to have the character sniff Cocaine. The idea came to me on the set. It gave him some definition, gave (his extroversion) a more precise justification. I invented the character-actor protagonist like Bronson, or Volonte himself. I chose actors like Eastwood and Van Cleef for the lead roles because of the exciting possibilities they presented, because they were minor players in American films who were much more important than the heroes themselves. The protagonist was more blandly superficial, whereas the character actor had a lot more depth. The only experiment the Americans ever tried in this direction - elevating a character actor to leading man - was Richard Widmark.