Le Guépard (Arte): why was the filming tense between the director and one of the actors in the film?

Broadcast this Monday, December 19, 2022 on Arte at 8:55 p.m., the filming of Cheetah of Luchino Visconti was not a long calm river. Especially between the director and the main actor Burt Lancaster.

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Palme d’Or Cannes film festival in 1963, Cheetah by Luchino Visconti, which could be adapted in series and broadcast this Monday, December 19, 2022 at 8:55 p.m. on Arte, takes place in 1860. At that time, the Piedmontese led by Garibaldi landed in Sicily, in Marsala, to overthrow the Bourbons. Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (Burt Lancaster, became an actor by accident) witnesses with detachment and melancholy the decline of the nobility. He decides to take refuge with his family in his resort of Donnafugata. Understanding that his large family shines with its last lights, Prince Salina consents to the marriage of Tancred (Alain Delon, grandfather of a little Lino), his favorite nephew who chose to join the cause of the Republicans, with the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale, very affected by the death of Jean-Paul Belmondo), the daughter of Don Calogero, a wealthy landowner who became mayor of the village. A film acclaimed by critics around the world, but the start of filming was complicated. And yet, the cast is incredible!

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Cheetaha high-flying cast!

Starting with the two young firsts of the film. Indeed, in this masterpiece by Luchino Visconti, two young actors burst onto the screen: the charismatic Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. Two actors who know each other well and whom the director appreciates since he already made them shoot together in 1960 in his film Rocco and his brothers. No problem between the three friends and especially between Alain Delon and Luchino Visconti. According to Fulco della Verdura, a close friend of the director, the affection (and attraction) that the latter felt for Alain Delon, even caused favoritism, which irritated certain members of the team. Alain Delon was, for example, “the only actor to have a personal dressing room, while poor Burt Lancaster stood waiting for hours“. Which was not the case with the star of the film, Burt Lancaster!

A casting not always to the taste of Luchino Visconti

It was the producers of the film who imposed the presence of Burt Lancaster on Luchino Visconti. The Italian director was furious as he felt he was not right for the role. Thus, from the first weeks of filming, the atmosphere was electric between the two men. Unlike Alain Delon, Visconti was very hard on Lancaster. And what had to happen happened: the two artists confronted each other publicly on the set. A blessing in disguise because Luchino Visconti was so touched by the passion and sincerity that Lancaster showed that he completely changed his mind about him. From there, the two men developed a sincere friendship that would last beyond this film. Visconti would hire him again in 1974 to violence and passion !

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Le Guépard (Arte): why was the filming tense between the director and one of the actors in the film?