“I don’t even want to talk to him”: which actor Sergio Leone did not want to meet for…

Find out which actor Sergio Leone didn’t even want to talk to while he was preparing to film “And for a few dollars more”, his second western.

Whether Clint Eastwood had already seen his career boosted by his role at Sergio Leone in For a fistful of dollars (1964), and for a few more dollarsfilmed the following year, will save another actor still unknown to the public and in full distress… Lee Van Cleef.

Initially, the character of the mentor of this new Italian western, Douglas Mortimer, must fall to Lee Marvinwho gave his consent, and whom Leone worshiped in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. But at the last moment, the Hollywood actor abandons filming to turn to another project, Cat Ballouin which he plays two roles, and which will earn him an Oscar for Best Actor.

Leone therefore finds himself with his beak in the water and rushes through the pages of Academy Players, a photo catalog of all members of the Screen Actors Guild. In the book Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone of Christopher Fraying, the Italian filmmaker remembers:

He looked a bit like a hairdresser from southern Italy, but with that characteristic aquiline nose and almond-shaped eyes… I remembered seeing him in The Train Will Whistle three times where he had played as an extra, as well as in Bravados and Settlement of Accounts at OK Corral.

I dont even want to talk to him which actor
United Artists

Lee Van Cleef in The Train Will Whistle Three Times

It is obviously about Lee Van Cleef who, approaching his forties, has not filmed since 1962 and is content with TV appearances for 2 or 3 episodes of series without his career really taking off. Since a serious car accident and a prolonged stay in the hospital, the actor thinks he will forever remain a fourth-tier actor and will no longer work. He spends his days painting and drinks a little too much.

“I saw it coming from afar”Leone recalls thinking back to their first date. “He looked exactly the way he needed to. He had short hair and was wearing a very dirty long trench coat with high black boots. He looked like an old grizzled eagle.”

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Lee Van Cleef in And for a Few Dollars More

The director then remembers having said to his production manager:

I don’t even want to talk to him, because if I do, I might take a dislike to him and not hire him, and that would be a big mistake.

Van Cleef therefore blindly accepts this new role, in second place on the poster, discovering the script on the plane taking him to shoot in Spain. In an instant, he finds himself in the costume of the impeccable bounty hunter Douglas Mortimer, teaming up with another younger bounty hunter in order to bring down The Indian and his gang, far too many gang robbers and dangerous for him to attack them alone.

The film instantly becomes a classic, sweeping away everything in its path. Van Cleef is propelled to the rank of star of the western spaghetti. From then on, he went on filming in Italy, filming several jewels of the genre, from Colorado to Last day of angerPassing by Death was on the way, Sabata Where The Last Duel. He also finds Sergio Leone to play the role of “that pig from Sentenza” in The good, the bad and the ugly.

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Sentenza in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The actor then returned to the United States, where he suffered the full brunt of the disappearance of the western from the screens in the early 80s and after the filming of New York 1997. After a hiatus from 1981 to 1984, he returned to television to train a young Timothy Van Patten in martial arts for 13 episodes of The Man with the Katana.

Van Cleef returns to Italy to shoot three series B with Antonio Margheriti : Code name: Wild Geese in which he finds Klaus Kinsky twenty years later And for a few dollars more, then Adventurers of Hell and The Triangle of Fear. In 1989, he died in 1989 of a heart attack. His last movie, Thieves of Fortunereleased the following year.

Chance of fate: Leone wanted Lee Marvin after having adored him in Liberty Valance, he finally hired Van Cleef who also appeared, in a much lesser role, in the western of John Ford.

Van Cleef had also played the guests in The Twilight Zone… Like Lee Marvin!

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