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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interview from Cinema Magazine (1984)

Thanks to Heiko for posting this on the Lee Van Cleef Web Board!

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.


  1. Eli Wallach said Leone adored Lee's finger and wanted to focus on it. Also that Leone liked to find a person who had suffered in life which had left something that could be noticed and focus on it. Eli said that is why he used the man with no legs Lee called "half soldier".

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