When I now look at the many Hollywood Films in the fifties, you played smaller roles, I always get the feeling of wanting to call out to the filmmakers: Man, they does not realize that here is a actor with big star potential, a Lee Van Cleef would much higher in the cast list! How you can see in retrospect, this phase of your career?
LVC: I'm for slow but steady growth. If I had quickly come up, I probably would have ended up as quickly to the stomach.
The big breakthrough came with the Sergio-Leone-Films 1965/1966. Was “For a few dollars more” the first Film in Europe ?
LVC: As a Star already. However, I had worked here before, for the first time in "The Young Lions" with Marlon Brando. But the big push came with my Part in "For a few Dollars more" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". In every conversation "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is everybody's favorite movie. Since I was playing the villain, as before - not that I would have something about it, I do still fun. But I personally liked my role in "For a few Dollars more" rather because my role was more differentiated, not only bad, but not the sterotype hero, but a real character. Such a thing appeals to me. In "The Big Gundown" I played good, but pursued the wrong man, and these escaped again and again so that the whole game was a kind - a great idea. I'm still excited about the movie. I think of you back, and that's why I love my job today. And I'm far from the intention to retire.
You recently filmed a TV series in the States
LVC: Yes, I play “The Master”, it means the series is about a Ninja-Master, with historical weapons, etc.
Was that your first TV work?
LVC: As the Star of a series: Yes. In the past I have performed frequently as a guest star in series. But all this was before 1965, before it went up. Then I thought it better to make scarce on the screen - I had risen to a different category. Maybe that was not right, because you can reach the audience through the television in the living room - which is also important. That is why I have “The Master" role now assumed. In this Day and Age people are less and less persuaded to leave their four walls - and the price of Movie Tickets also are not very inviting. In "Codename Wildgeese" I am sure, however, that people will come - such a good Team can rarely go wrong.
In "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is available in the duel scene a close up of her hand as you reaches for the Colt. And there we see that the middle finger is missing half a term.
LVC: It happened to me around 1960, with the table saw, as I have fashioned at home.
Has Sergio Leone deliberately pushed the finger into the picture?
LVC: No, it was about the mood, not around my finger. But maybe I have something in your subconscious made to keep the finger in front of the camera. Leone loves Close-ups, Hands, Faces, Eyes. And he uses it extremely well. According to my films, he made "Once upon a Time in the West", where the result was not as advantageous. At least, I think. But perhaps he also had to rest. I want to be understood correctly: I like Sergio Leone and I'll never forget that he gave me the chance to get where I am today.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Interview from Cinema Magazine (1984)
Thanks to Heiko for posting this on the Lee Van Cleef Web Board!