Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Sergio Leone: In the reconstruction of the locations, back here at Cinecitta, I was more meticulous than a Visconti. I even brought back just the right dust from Monument Valley of just the right color. I believe that the selection of the right details is a big help for an actor. When Fonda and Bronson arrived on the set, they were bowled over! They weren't even used to working with music, which for me is crucially important for the actors. It helps them enter into the type of tension I request. I wanted Bronson because he had the right face: he is the perfect avenger, obsessive - never stopping until he's achieved his purpose; Fonda because I wanted to reverse his usual persona.
I needed the archetypes, but I wanted to play around with them, too.
The most wonderful actor, however, was Jason Robards, an actor of European cut, so gentle and responsible. Truly superb.
Fonda, of course, was a myth for me. The first few days on the set, he asked me disconcerting questions about details: "Which hand do you prefer that he drinks with? How does he tap the ash from his cigarette?"
I sensed that there was something on his mind that he wasn't expressing, so I took him aside and I told him that I wanted him for the role because he was an extraordinary actor; a legendary character who I'd admired forever. And how could I allow myself to suggest little bits of behavioral business to an actor of his stature?
Fonda responded, and this is verbatim: "Dear Sergio, I belong to that old generation of actors who never allowed themselves any initiative; who only left that for the director alone, and the only initiative taken was at the level of deciding - from the (Olympian) heights of one's superstardom - whether this or that movie was worth doing. Once committed to a project, however, one put oneself entirely in the hands of the director. In my long career, the only person I've ever shot (and then just once - in the knee) was my old friend Jimmy Stewart. Now yhou want me to exterminate an entire family. Since I like your films, you must know what you're doing. I accepted this part enthusiastically, but I want to leave all responsibility of my role up to you, so that if it's a success, all credit goes to you, and if it fails, you'll be the only one to blame."
Fonda was humble; professional as they come. He knew instinctively how to play for the lights, the camera... Just where to stand...

No comments:

Post a Comment