We had to think about it: having Marcello Mastroianni play his daughter, Chiara. This is Christophe Honoré’s bet in Marcello Mio, a film in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and in theaters from Tuesday evening. Catherine Deneuve, mother of Chiara Mastroianni, plays her own role. The two women will climb the steps of the Palais des Festivals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The opportunity to salute the memory of this actor who embodied the golden age of Italian cinema on screen and derision in the city. Mastroianni in five glances.

Visconti introduced him to the theater in 1948 but it was Fellini who, by preferring his face to that of Paul Newman, made him famous with La Dolce Vita, in 1960. Mastroianni, 36 years old, already around forty films behind him, becomes a young star: “Before I played taxi drivers, then I was classified as an actor for intellectuals,” he explained. I became Fellini’s mirror actor and even his double in Eight and a Half (1963) and Intervista (1987).”

A double that allows the filmmaker to let his imagination run wild. They made seven films together, happily. “My meeting with him offered me true friendship, that rare and precious of a big brother, more intelligent, deeper, more sensitive than me,” testified Mastroianni. “Marcello is my double, the excrescence of my arm (…), replied Fellini. The friendly Italian onto whom we project the best in us. And to whom we forgive all his faults because they are ours.

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“Marcello!”, shouts Anita Ekberg from the Trevi Fountain, girded in a black strapless dress. Mastroianni is hypnotized. La Dolce Vita, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, caused a scandal when it was released in 1960. And not only for the daring sensuality of this midnight swim. The filmmaker shows on screen an Italy that is wavering on its traditional foundations, for which part of the public does not forgive him. “Marcello and I narrowly escaped being lynched. I was spat on in the face and he received insults like “lazy”, “coward”, “debauched”, “communist”…,” Fellini recounted.

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“Marcello resembles Chekhov’s Platonov, for this modern man’s need to find a reason to live, to seek all the sensations, to have adventures to justify himself, to justify his day,” deciphered the actor.

In 1970, Marcello Mastroianni met Catherine Deneuve, in London, at Roman Polanski’s house. He has a shaved head, she doesn’t recognize him right away. They hit it off and found each other, a few months later, on the set of It Only Happens to Others, where they had to play a couple. Between two scenes, Marcello, 46 ​​years old and married since 1950, Catherine, 27 years old and soon to be divorced, begin a romance.

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The same year, they filmed the disturbing Liza by Marco Ferreri. Deneuve portrays a beautiful bourgeois woman who gives herself body and soul, on a desert island, to a solitary Robinson played by Mastroianni. On May 28, 1972, their daughter Chiara was born. They then respond to each other in The Most Important Event Since Man Walked on the Moon and Hands Off the White Woman.

Before Deneuve broke up in 1974. “Our life together ended in failure and… I don’t like failures. Not having the same education, the same roots, the same language, yes, so many pitfalls…”, she regretted. Chiara and Catherine were still at Marcello’s bedside when he died in 1996. Mastroianni never divorced the actress Flora Carabella, the mother of his first daughter, Barbara.

The Italian starred alongside Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti, Romy Schneider and Ursula Andress during his career, but it was with Sophia Loren, then as famous in Italy as in Hollywood, that he toured the most. Among their most famous scenes, the mischievous stripping of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Vittorio De Sica, produced in 1963 and Oscar winner for best foreign language film. Or the mambo from A Special Day (1977). Sophia Loren assured when Mastroianni died: “It was family. With his death, I lost a piece of myself.”

Mastroianni did not like being called a “Latin lover”, those seducers with tanned complexions that Hollywood loved. “I am fallible, very fallible,” he swore. He never ceased to play disarmed or offbeat characters: impotent husband in Le Bel Antonio (1960), disillusioned spouse in La Nuit (1961), melancholy homosexual in A Special Day (1978), pregnant man in The most important event…

Twice awarded at Cannes and three times at Venice, Mastroianni loved his job – “you look for skin that you don’t have” – ​​but chose not to take it too seriously: “I don’t like legends, when actors say they suffer. At 8 o’clock, a car comes to pick you up from the studio, they offer you a coffee, they put your makeup on (…) In the evening they take you home, you have won money, sometimes you have fallen in love because the actresses are beautiful girls. What a shitty job!”