Marcello Mastroianni is one of the most distinguished and prolific of European star actors. His career stretches back over four decades and includes collaborations with some of the most noted continental directors from Luchino Visconti to Louis Malle. Vittorio De Sica. John Borrman and. most famously. Federico Fellini. ()nce hailed as the ‘sexiest man since Rudolph Valentino‘ and the recipient of numerous international honours. he credits mere good fortune as the secret of his success. claiming to be both slothful and lacking in ambition. The fact that he fails to mention hard work or talent is a measure of an affable. unassuming personality that has endeared him to audiences of all nations.
Born in Fontana Liri. south of Rome. in 192-1 his early years are the raw material of a publicist‘s dreams. The son of a cabinet maker. his family moved to Turin and later Rome when he was still a child. Embarking on a career as an industrial designer he was captured during the war and sent to a labour camp in Germany. Escaping to Venice he spent the rest of the war concealed in an attic. earning a crust by piecework picture painting. Returning to peacetime Rome be secured employment in the accounts department ofone ofJ. Arthur Rank‘s European outposts.
Then. in 1947. he joined a local drama group. encountering (iuiletta Masina. and was spotted by Luchino Visconti who asked him to appear with his company. Mastroianni's appearances there included productions of Streetcar Named
Desire. Uncle Vanya and Death of a Salesman. His film debut came in Riccardo Freda‘s _I Miserabili ( 1947) and although his early work did not herald the arrival of a blazing new talent he evinced a ﬂair for light comedy and made a serviceable
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Leot e Last (1970‘ leading man to the likes ofSophia Loren and (iina Lollobrigida.
In 1957. Visconti requested his services for White Nigllt_s_ and he recalls it as the first time he truly became interested in the art of acting on film. In 1959 he was the star of Fellini's La Dolce Vita and became a major attraction on the arthouse circuit. In quick succession he appeared in Atnonioni‘s La Notte. Louis Malle‘s Vie Privee and Fellini's The Americans gave him an Oscar nomination for Divorce-Italian Style; and the British responded with an Academy Award for Yesterday. 'I'oday_a£c_i Tomorrow;
Although his decision not to succumb to Hollywood's many entreaties is commendable. he claims it is because he is too lazy to learn English. Besides he can and does work with the best of European talents. venturing to Britain for John Boorman‘s Leo the Last ( 197(1). returning to Italy for Roman Polanski‘s What'.’ ( 1972) and the 'I'aviani brothers Allonsafan (1974) and receiving another Oscar nomination for Ettore Scola's A
Special Day (1977) opposite Sophia Loren.
The 1980s have brought a succession of reunions with Fellini in Qty ofWomen ( 1981)). Interyjitg (1987) and the wonderfully satirical gmger and Fred ( 1986) with Masina. There have also been Macar0n_i (1985) with Jack Lemmon and now Dark Eye_s( 1987) which earned him the Best Actor Prize at the (‘annes Film Festival and a third Oscar nomination.
A character actor ofskill. physical grace and immense personal charm he has long ago shed the derogatory ‘Italian lover‘ tag and. despite well-publicised infatuations with Faye Dunaway and (‘atherine Deneuve. remains married to his first and only wife of 38 years.
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