An actress with magnetic eyes and straight manners
You used yours. As in the role of Adele, especially in the sequence shots along the marshy grounds or when the workers climbed over the wall to get the coal. The climax is reached with the homage to silent cinema in the greeting of Raoul. Was it Monticelli who put his part in there?
He understood that there was sympathy for with Salvatori. I would like to see, a great cool! It was with Anne Girardot at the time. The looks, despite my shyness, were more eloquent than any word. And Mario in fact covered up the farewell dialogue with the noise of the train. I put my eyes on it. Obeying the orders was not a burden to me. Monicelli, he was respectful, if strict, and careful to get the best out of actors and actresses. Some moments were even adventurous. That wall I actually climbed over.
The slap I then gave to Salvatori, who helped me get off by feeling me, was not in the script but Monicelli was satisfied. It is so beautiful. Like the path, full of puddles and truth, to go to work at the textile factory in Turin or the sequence with the beautiful chiaroscuro between me and Salvatori after the tragic death of Botasso.
Fellini was a brilliant director. He had a whole world of his own in his head. Full of enchantments, of surprises. In fact, it once took me quite by surprise. He asked me to reciprocate in public, in the frame, the looks I gave him in private. He implied that there was something tender between us. Which is not true. It is clear that he did this to obtain a mixture of useful expressions from my facial expressions. But I was just about to send it to us. I’ve never been the kind of actress who offers her graces to make a career. They stopped me from telling him off: he would have kicked me out on the spot. And it would have been a shame. It was a small role, that of a fishwife, in a great film, imaginative, as you point out, of which I gave good memories.
With Dario Argento there were sparks on the set of a spurious horror “MDC – Mask of Wax”. It is right that an actress, if she misses a line, can repeat the scene. Was he biased?
Yes, my husband Giuseppe Colombo, who you Massimiliano know, was for some time commercial director of Canon Italy and has also produced several films by Dario. Their partnership has paid off, even without me. However, I never wanted recommendations. The role of the blind woman in the film “MDC – Mask of Wax” is the exception that that confirms the rule. He didn’t go down and started attacking me.
I had to memorize a long monologue and had a minimum of difficulty at the beginning. He was waiting for me at the gate and at the first indecision, which can happen, he became angry to the point of leaving the set screaming: I knew it! I stopped him: “Let’s do it again!” The monologue then turned out well. Dario left the direction to Sergio Stivaletti all the same. He didn’t like the idea of feeling like the fallback, In fact, there should have been Lucio Fulci, but, poor thing, he died before the shooting started. Thus I became a pretext. But I am a struggle.
That’s for sure, Gabriella. However, you did not join the identity-face battle led by Gian Maria Volonte. Was it a painful renunciation?
Sure, I was sad to be dubbed most of the time. But I accepted it. You can’t have it all. The reasons were mostly economic. Timing, as you know, is always a factor that matters a lot in cinema. We undertake to adhere to the established period. And dubbing helps to hurry. It is a form of professionalism that allows, outside of live sound, to conclude everything properly. I highly respect these commercial values. Moreover, I’m not very good with dialects and I have often played commoners from different places.
Another artist whose respected commercial values but had determination to spare was Piero Vivarelli, who directed you in the film “La rumbera”. Was you Tuscanity an added value?
We both lived in Northern Rome, on the Cassia (actually, I still live there). We met often. I like his way of doing things: straightforward and elegant. He proposed the part of the mother of the protagonist, I gladly accepted. The set in Cuba was perfect. Production spared no expense. Piero knew how to put people at ease. No director likes to stop acting to make the same scene repeat over and over again. But Piero was in possession of a lot of charisma, as a Sienese who always respected others and made himself respected. He knew how to do things best. With determination.
I know in 2009, when I designed a seminar entitled “the debt of auteur cinema” for the Link University of Malta in Rome, I involved him. We talked at length about Prince Valerio Borghese and about homeland honor. Vivarelli was a veteran of the Decima Mas, then he became friends with Fidel Castro in Cuba. Did you still consider him consistent in his own way?
I have never asked myself the question. I am not behind the events of the past like you, who know so many things about history as well as abut cinema. I am a simple person. I believe that everyone has the right to carve out their own space in society to achieve their goals and be happy. What I can say about Piero is that he was a gentleman. He kept his word. If he said one thing, it was that. In Cuba they respected him.
Even off the set, he managed to coordinate everything as needed. He was also a formidable lyricist and knew how to evaluate the artistic factor necessary for the success of a work.
Sometimes the search for success, which passes through the public with simple tastes, leads, as they say, to put art aside. Does it bother you to be known more for Cinzia Bocconotti than for the many roles in arthouse films?
I took the art and out it aside because my mom was sick. I had to find a cure for her and needed the money. And the films with Tomas Milian in the role of foul-mouthed commissioner Nico Giraldi, such as “Delitto sull’autostrada”, where I play Cinzia Bocconotti, paid well. The fact that they stop me on the street and recognize me for this character, who gets along with boxers trained by his boyfriend, then unable to support boxing matches, is part of the norm: many spectators, at the cinema, are only interested in having fun. Unpretentious.
Yet Tomas Milian was keen to clarify in the book Rubbish, My Love that that foul-mouthed character, but also sensible and extroverted, was wonderful to play for a closed person like him. Do you think it is better to appear in films capable of stimulating people in intellectual terms?
It is a joy to have played beautiful characters in films of great artistic value. One thing is those who have had a laugh with Cinzia Bocconotti, to whom however my sympathy goes, and another is to talk to experts like you. It would be nice if, in addition to having cheered the people fond of Inspector Giraldi, those films had made them more sensitive. Tomas was really the opposite of Girardi, I appreciated the sweetness.
Playing the mother of an actress who chooses the best-paid roles for treatment would close the circle. Can you take a bitter thing, like a lemon, and make a sweet thing like lemonade?
You gave me and idea. It would be nice if that happened. It takes a good screenwriter. Maybe you take care of it: you write well. Then we contact a suitable director. It is done like this, so to speak. But you never know. I am one who believes in projects, even if difficult. I can still have my say. We’ll see.