CINEMA From his debut in cinema as a stunt double in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Sergio Leone (1966) to the skipped part in "Once Upon a Time in the West" to fame with "The Garden of the Finzi Contini" by Vittorio De Sica (1970) and a sea of films to follow. A lot of water has passed under the bridge for Fabio Testi. The actor, born in 1941, does not spare himself at the Days of Light in Spilimbergo, the festival dedicated to the masters of photography of Italian cinema, as a tribute to Spaghetti Westerns.
Fabio Testi, in how many films
have you starred?
“102 with my name on the bill! It all began because of my stunt falls”.
How do you remember the
“There was a lot of work for everyone back then and there were 360 films a year, 1 a day. Lighting directors became directors and acrobats like me became actors. It was an industry that went and the quality of the product always paid off. Then with the advent of TV the quality failed. The audience? Modified by the system, was not reliable, in my opinion”.
His first time on set.
“In Peschiera del Garda there was a small lake on the Cinecittà lot where pirate films were made: at the age of 13 I was doing swimming and diving competitions in the athletes' group and every summer there was work for me. Then, having to do film interns, I arrived in Rome already knowing the stuntmen. As an acrobat they asked me to act and I made western movies with Demofilo Filani (“Stranger Who Made the Sign of the Cross”, “And Now I Recommend his Soul to God”) and they asked me to continue. I wanted to be an architect, but seeing the films in the room they convinced me and I went to the Academy of Dramatic Solids: De Sica gave me the final exam and chose me for “The Garden of the Finzi Contini”.
A memory of Sergio Leone?
“I had to do a role in “Once Upon a Time in the West” but I didn't bond with Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda so they eliminated my character. In order not to argue with Leone, I stayed on the set as an acrobat”.
And of Vittorio De Sica?
“A great director who loved actors as he was an actor: you work much better because there was a crazy affinity. The most difficult director? At the beginning Lucio Fulci. I shot 2 films with him (“The Four of the Apocalypse”, “Luca the Smuggler”) and the first day we had a fight: he hated the actors! But then we became friends”.
“Monte Hellman, master of the underground, of Coppola and Scorsese, passed away recently, a wonderful person and I would work with him for free if ... Then there is Enzo Castellari”.
What are you doing today?
“I do poetry readings with musicians who accompany me in the theaters. I made an American pilot film with Jacqueline Bisset”.
How did you go through the long
“Closed inside, due to Covid, I got busy: I have 5 dogs, 2 horses, a vegetable garden, an estate of 35 acres. And I became a grandfather and reunited the family: all 3 of my children have returned from abroad, including my first ex-wife. I am in my farmhouse on the morainic hills of the Garda valley: a fairy tale!”.
“I'm trying to put together a film with a social background, let's see, but I'm not saying the title is bad. Theme? The problem of suicides in Veneto where many small entrepreneurs are hanged by the banks. Nobody talks about it but it is a dramatic reality”.
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