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Claudia Cardinale: “I wanted to be an explorer, not an actress. And now I support young people.”

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The actress of Visconti, Fellini, Leone and other big personalities of the Italian cinema reminds dead director and partner

22 IFF 30giugno CardinaleShe’s been the symbol of the Festival in Cannes this year, and after a month she arrives at Ischia Film Festival. We’re talking about Claudia Cardinale, that came to this beautiful island to pay tribute to Pasquale Squitieri, to whom the Festival gives a unique retrospective. And to the strains of C’era una volta il west, a film by Sergio Leone, of which this actress was the main character (“Every time I get into a cab in Rome they play the music by Ennio Morricone”) Miss Cardinale presented to the public Il prefetto di ferro, that right this year celebrates its fortieth anniversary. A lot of amazing memories in this great actress’ lifetime, a career that lasts sixty years against her dreams. “I didn’t really want to be an actress, I wanted to be an explorer”, but after all it’s what I did, exploring the world working with the most important directors of Italian cinema. She worked in four movies with Federico Fellini, Mauro Bolognini, Mario Monicelli, Marco Bellocchio, Luchino Visconti, including Rocco e i suoi fratelli and Il gattopardo. “Luchino and I were great friends, I’ve been a lot of times here in Ischia with him, at La Colombaia, his beautiful villa. We used to work and talk about his plans, he was a great man. He would tell me I was a tomboy, and he was right. When I used to have lunch with him, he always made me find some jewelery under the napkin.” And then of course Pasquale Squitieri. “Pasquale was the only man of my life. He hadn’t defects, that’s why I’ve chosen him for me; I went all the way to New York to carry him with me. He was brave, a great fighter, passionate and enthusiastic.” A relationship that was born on the set of I Guappi in 1974. “I remember that I had a love scene with Franco Nero that was lasting too much and Pasquale cut it.” Since then a lasting partnership started, in fact they worked together on many sets. “But when we used to work we weren’t Pasquale and Claudia; we were director and actress. It has always been so for me, director comes before everything.”
The director, passed away on 18th February of this year, is still present in the artistic life of Claudia Cardinale and Ottavia Fusco Squitieri, his last wife. “We’re playing together in theaters the female version of La Strana Coppia wrote by Pasquale. We’re starting in October in Naples at Teatro Augusteo, then in Rome at Sistina and then we’re starting a long tournée. I’m a little scared, but I want to do it for him.”
It was such a golden year for Claudia Cardinale, that nothing, even the rumors about the photoshopped poster of the Cannes Festival, could discredit it. A discussion that she defused herself. “Thierry Fremaux, Cannes director, is a dear friend of mine, that asked me a photo and chose that one. I was very young, I would never stop to jump and dance. I still remember when they took this photo.”
And talking about young people, help them is one of her missions. “I love supporting young talent, they need it, I like working with new directors and actors and actress that just started doing this beautiful and hard job.”

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