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Friday, April 30, 2021

Happy 90th Birthday, Adriana Asti!

"Be like me, I don't love anybody anymore and they call me Amore." An unforgettable line in Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1961 "Accattone" came from a spirited, light-hearted prostitute portrayed by Adriana Asti. 

Born in Milan in 1931, Asti began her acting career in theater before going on to work with many of the great maestros of Italian cinema, including Luchino Visconti, Bernardo Bertolucci and Federico Fellini, to name a few. She had small roles in huge, iconic films and made those characters memorable. In addition to her on-screen roles, she was also the voiceover of many of her contemporary counterparts like Claudia Cardinale, Lea Massari and Stefania Sandrelli. She is still very active in theater, television and film.


I am working on a feature article about Asti for the July issue of Fra Noi Magazine. As part of my research, I reached out to documentary filmmaker Rocco Talucci who made a beautiful film about her life and career. "A.A. Professione Attrice" premiered at the 2015 Rome Film Festival. Talucci presented the film with Asti and walked the Red Carpet with her and Franca Valeri by his side. I asked him if Asti would be up for answering a few questions. He checked with her and told me yes. Needless to say, it made me very happy. So I sent a few questions to him and he passed them onto her. So on the occasion of her 90th birthday today, I'd like to share our interview. Although brief and indirect, it really means so much to me that someone I've admired for so long took the time to consider my questions. 


Buon Compleanno Adriana Asti, a master actress so very loved and appreciated around the world! 


"Rocco and His Brothers"
Tell me about your collaboration with Luchino Visconti .. how you worked together in theater and cinema. Tell me a little about your relationship.
At the theater, the first time I did Arthur Miller's “The Crucible,” I was Mary Warren. Even though I was very young, he had already given me a part of the primadonna.

I was very much in love with Luchino, like everyone else, because he was a very charming and overwhelming man. I was very happy because it seemed to me great luck that this extraordinary thing of being with him at the theater, at the cinema and in friendship had happened to me. 

In cinema, my first experience with Luchino was with “Rocco and His Brothers.” I shot the scenes set in the ironing room.

With Luchino I had a great friendship, we were always together almost every evening!


In the 1950s and '60s, when you all worked together, did you realize one day that you would become icons? Did you know you were making immortal movies?

No! Absolutely not! I have no sense of the future.

 

Tell me about your experience playing the role of Susanna Pasolini.

Yes, Pier Paolo's mother, in Abel Ferrara's film. It was a painful experience because I had a scene with (Willem) Dafoe playing Pier Paolo in which he was lying in bed. I had to go in and hug him but I started to cry, cry, and cry because I saw him as Pier Paolo! We had to stop shooting ... the situation became a little too sentimental.

 

"Pasolini"

Did you feel nostalgic to revisit so many things about Pasolini?

I had a lot of emotion. For Pier Paolo, I have always had it, even beyond the film we made.

 

What was it like working with Abel Ferrara?

We weren't exactly friends. Abel is a difficult man but he's brilliant in his own way.

 

"Impardonnables"
Speaking of your contemporary films, I really enjoyed your performance in André Téchiné's "Impardonnables." Did you collaborate with the director on the creation of Anna Maria? It seemed that you enjoyed playing this character.
Téchiné is a mysterious man, very sharp and intelligent. I followed his directions. We had a very pleasant time while shooting the film in Venice. Yes, I really liked this character.

 

In your career which spans of over 60 years, which experience or role have you most appreciated?

Perhaps the experiences with Pier Paolo Pasolini! I enjoyed playing Amore, the character of "Accattone." Elsa Morante, our friend, is also in the prison scene.



When I am able, I will share the feature article that I am writing for Fra Noi. In the meantime, click on the links below to stream a few of Asti's films.. 


    



Intervista in Italiano...


Raccontami la sua collaborazione con Luchino Visconti.. come avete lavorato insieme nel teatro e nel cinema. Parlami un po’ del vostro rapporto.

A teatro la prima volta ho fatto The Crucible  di Arthur Miller, ero Mary  Warren, anche se ero molto giovane mi aveva dato già una parte di prima donna. 

Ero molto innamorata di Luchino, come tutti del resto, perché era un uomo molto affascinante e travolgente. Ero molto felice perché mi sembrava una grande fortuna che mi fosse capitata questa cosa straordinaria di stare insieme a lui a teatro, al cinema e nell’amicizia. Al cinema la prima esperienza con Luchino è stata con Rocco e i suoi fratelli, ho girato le scene ambientate nella stireria.

Con Luchino ho avuto una grandissima amicizia, stavamo sempre insieme quasi tutte le sere!


Negli anni Cinquanta e Sessanta, quando avete lavorato tutti insieme, vi siete resi conto un giorno che voi sareste diventati delle icone? Sapevate che stavate girando film immortali?

No! Assolutamente no! Non ho il senso del futuro.


Raccontami la sua esperienza di interpretare il ruolo di Susanna Pasolini.

Sì, la mamma di Pier Paolo, nel film di Abel Ferrara. E’ stata una esperienza dolorosa perché avevo una scena con Dafoe che faceva Pier Paolo nella quale era sdraiato in un letto. Dovevo entrare e abbracciarlo ma ho iniziato a piangere, piangere, e piangere perché lo vedevo come Pier Paolo!  Abbiamo dovuto interrompere le riprese… era diventata un poco troppo sentimentale la situazione… (ride)

 

 Ha sentito un nostalgia per rivisitare tante cose di Pasolini?

 Ho avuto molta emozione, per Pier Paolo l’ho sempre avuta, anche oltre il film che abbiamo girato.

 

Come è stato lavorare con Abel Ferrara?

Non eravamo esattamente amici, Abel è un uomo difficile però a suo modo è geniale .

 

Parlando dei suoi film contemporanei, mi è davvero piaciuta la sua interpretazione in "Impardonnables" di André Téchiné. Lei ha collaborato alla creazione di Anna Maria con il regista?  Sembrava che lei piacesse interpretare questo personaggio.

Téchiné  è un uomo misterioso, molto acuto e intelligente. Ho seguito le sue indicazioni. Abbiamo passato un periodo molto piacevole durante le riprese del film a Venezia. Sì, mi è piaciuto molto questo personaggio.

 

Nella tua carriera di oltre 60 anni, quale esperienza o ruolo ha maggiormente apprezzato?

Forse le esperienze  con Pier Paolo Pasolini ! Mi ha divertito recitare Amore, il personaggio di Accattone. Nella scena del carcere c’è anche Elsa Morante, nostra amica.

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