Marcello Mastroianni (28 September 1924 – 19 December 1996) was born in Fontana Liri, Italy in 1924, but his family quickly relocated to Turin and later to Rome. During WWII, he was imprisoned in a German camp, but he managed to escape and hide in Venice. He made his film debut as an extra in Marionette (1939), then began working for the Italian branch of “Eagle Lion Films” in Rome and joined a theatre club, where director Luchino Visconti noticed him. Visconti cast him as the lead in his Fyodor Dostoevsky adaption Le Notti Bianche (1957), and he played a little crook in Mario Monicelli‘s comedy Persons Unknown (I soliti ignoti, 1958).
But his genuine success came in 1960 when Federico Fellini cast him as a handsome, tired-eyed journalist of the Rome jet-set in La dolce vita (1960); the film gave birth to his “Latin lover” character, which Mastroianni frequently disputed by playing weak and sensitive guys. He would collaborate with Fellini again on numerous notable films, including the magnificent Federico Fellini‘s 8½ (1963) (playing a movie director in crisis) and the moving Ginger and Fred (1986) (as an old entertainer who appears in a TV show).
In Michelangelo Antonioni‘s The Night (1961), he played a tired novelist with marital problems, in Mauro Bolognini’s Bell’ Antonio (1960), as an impotent young man in John Boorman’s Leo the Last (1970), as a traitor in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Allonsanfan (1974), and as a sensitive homosexual in love with a housewife in Ettore Scola’s A Special (1977). He received three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor: Divorce Italian Style (1961), A Special Day (1977), and Dark Eyes (1987). During his final decade, he collaborated with directors such as Theodoros Angelopoulos, Bertrand Blier, and Ral Ruiz, who offered him three wonderful roles in Three Lives and Only One Death (1996).