Alain Delon


1. –    Franco Interlenghi, A Farewell To Arms, 1957.      An immediate farewell to Hollywood! Discovered by Henry Wilson, the man who found and re-christened Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and John Smith(!), Delon turned down a seven-year contract with Hollywood great David Selznick to debut in order to debut in  Yves Allegret’s Quand la femme s’en mele.   “I want to have a success as an actor, not as a pretty boy – a great actor.”

2. –    Jacques Charrier, Les tricheurs, France-Italy, 1958.   Considered a star in the making after his debut In Quand la femme s’en mêle,  Delon tested but Charrier had caught Marcel Carné’s eye on stage in The Diary of Anne FrankThe veteran director of such classics as Quai des Brumes, Le Jour se leve, Les Visiteurs de sour, Les Enfants du paradis, also dropped Jean-Paul Belmondo from the co-lead!   Old-timer or not, Carné’s  film helped start la nouvelle vague…  Ironic, considering that with his first short, some 29 years earlier, Carné had been called by critic Jean Mitry, “a kind of new wave.” 

3. – Franco Interlenghi, En cas de malheur, France-Italy, 1958.
“I made some tests but I was not chosen.   I was crushed! Imagine missing that cast… Jean Gabin. Brigitte Bardot. Edwige Feuillière.”   Delon and BB had first met that year for a special photo session: The World’s Most Beautiful Kisses.  A test in itself for her lover, Mazzetti  – but co-production with Italy meant an Italian  in the film.And obviously not in the Gabion or BB rtoles.  So Delon was out – and not in until  ten years for the first of his two sketch films with Bardot Bardot :Amours célèbres (US: Famous Affairs), 1961.  The two beautiful superstars (too beautiful for each other) had no  chemistry together, which explains why they were never lovers, just close friends since ’68.  Because Jean-Paul  Belmond made a film with Gabin, Delon later made three: Mélodie en sous-sol  (UK: The BIg Snatch; US: Any Number Can Win), 19162;Le clan des siciliens (UK/US: The Sicilian Clan), 1969; Deux hommes dans la ville, 1973.

4. –    Jacques Charrier, Les drageurs, France, 1959. Realisateur Jean-Pierre Mocky also considered Belmondo and Jean-Pierre Cassel for his first feature. So did everyone else.

5. –    Maurice Ronet, Plein soleil/Purple Noon, France, 1959.     Offered the role of the victim, Delon held out for the killer (already tagged for Jacques Charrier).  He kept on at realisateur René Clément until there came a voice from the back of the room. “Rrrrené, cherie,” said Madame Bella Clément, “le petit a rrrraison – the kid is right!”  He made his name as Tom Ripley on the boat, despite being “as sick as a dog.” During his first Hollywood visit, Bette Davis praised his performance.   Whereas co-star Marie Laforet said Delon and Ronet were a couple of assholes.  “No elegance.”

6. –      Marcello Mastroianni,  Il Bell’ Antonio, Italy-France, 1959.     Maestro Mauro Bolognini’s first choice for the indolent –  and  impotent – Antonio Magnano.  Delon passed while Mastroianni  made almost a cottage industry out of mocking his Latin Lover image with such roles.   Bolognini also failed to nab Delon for La viaccia, 1961, and the actor caught up  with  Bell’ Antonio’s Claudia Cardinale in  Visconti’s film of  another famous Sicilian novel, l gattopardo/The Leopard,  in 1962. 

7. –    Jean-Paul Belmondo, Classe tous risques, France-Italy, 1959.    Producers did not fancy the early Belmondo – pug-ugly! – and tried to pressure realisateur Claude Sautet into going for the New Wave leaders: Delon, Gérard Blain,  Laurent Terzieff.   Or even the rotund, sweaty,  cha-cha-cha-mambo singer Dario Moreno!!! Everyone ,including the director’s agent, said:”Big mistake!” The film opened one week after About de souffle… and “Bebel” was born! They became great rivals – Delon was always #2 at the  box-office.  .  Indeed it is  not until # 10 and #11 in his box-office tallies,m that Delon is  scoring on his name only.  The previous nine had multi-starcasts from Soleil rouge to Asterix

8. –    Horst Buchholz, Fanny, 1960.     Not applauded by the French when a German Marius was the result of Ze French Lover refusing to be one of ze most famous French lovers.

9. – Glenn Ford, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 196 No sure which would have been the most absurd casting for Julio Desnoyers – Dirk Bogarde, Montgomery Clift or Glenn Ford.  They were all  too old – 49, 40 and 44 – when Julio’s sister  was  Yvette Mimieux at…  18.  MGM then looked at the pretty boys – Alain Delon, 25, and the German Delon, Horst Buchholz, 27, and George Hamilton, 21.   Brando, 36, also refused:  “Didn’t Valentino do that? I don’t dance the tango.

9. –    Jacques Toja, Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers, France, 1961.    

Two Paris companies had the same idea and refused to merge.  The   ritzier version – Charles Azanavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Delon, Sophia Loren – was dropped. Too pricey.. . Delon also passed on another French classic, Colette’s  Cri, planned in Hollywood by by George Cukor with Natalie Wood and SImone SIgnoret  – who he eventually partnered in La Veuve Couderc, 1971, and its quasi re-make, Les granges brûlées, 1972.  An idyllic partnership, said his brother, but their director Jean Chapot was totally intimidated by such huge stars. Delon told him: “Take charge of me, or I’ll take charge of you. Didn’t work, so Delon directed all his own scenes. Simone said: “He’s mad, but a tender madman, who takes on the air of being tough, and he’s a generous madman, We worked together happily.”

10 –    Warren Beatty, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, 1961.   The gigolo was supposed to be continental but Vivien Leigh would not have him. “He’s prettier than I am.”


11 –    Anthony Perkins, Goodbye Again, France-USA, 1961.    Françoise Sagan’s pretentious pages did not transfer well to the screen – or not in this Hollywood version for Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and a quite hysterical Perkins.

12 –    Jean-Paul Belmondo, La viaccia, Italy-France, 1961.   “Bebel” first yes, then no – and once director Mauro Bolognini approached Delon, it was yes again.   The pudique Bebel must have guessed the US re-release title: The Lovemakers.

13 – Omar Sharif,  Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.

14 – Glenn Ford,  The  Four Horsemen of  the Apocalypse, l962.    On vacation from MGMusicals, director Vincent Minnelli wanted Delon and had a Rome meeting while he  was making Rocco and His Brothers  for Visconti. Metro insisted Delon was just a little Euro star – like, Minnelli’s fallback notion: Horst Buchholz.

15 – Robert Hossein, Le Repos du guerrier (UK: Warrior’s Rest; US: Love On A Pillow), France-Italy, 1962.    Lost Bardot again. Well, Delon never worked with Roger Vadim… and this   sociopathic would-be suicide abusing Brigitte Bardot was far more up Hossein’s allée.


16 – Jean-Paul Belmondo, L’Aine des Ferchaux, France, 1962.

Réalisateur  Jean Valère wanted Alain Delon  opposite his lover,  Romy Schneider and Michel Simon  He accepted, signed, then quit… as soon as  Antonioni called him about L’eclisse (The Eclipse). Jean-Pierre Melville took over, easily winning Belmondo, Michèle Mercier and Charles Vanel. But losing a furious Bebel for any future films (so Delon did them all!) because of the way he treated the veteran Vanel on-set. “Stop!  You have no right to talk to him like that.” Melville’s assistant, future réalisateur Yves Boisset, selected the New York extras. Melville refused one of them.  He was… Robert De Niro... The following year, he made his screen debut in another French film with Big Apple locations, the hallowed Marcel Carné’s Trois chambres â Manhattan)In 2001, Belmondo played the corrupt old banker in a French TV re-hash. As if anyone could re-make Melville.

17 – Jean-Claude Brialy, Chataeu en suède, France-Italy, 1963.   Rejecting  both Roger Vadim and Françoise Sagan for a second time. This is the forgotten Vadim movie. Well, instead of Bardot, all it had was a crazy US title, Nutty, Naughty Chateau.  That year he also  refused a Hollywood offer from  George Cukor, no less,for Cherie with Natalie Wood and Simone Signoret  – who he eventually partnered in La Veuve Couderc, 1971, and its quasi re-make, Les granges brûlées, 1972.  An idyllic partnership, said his brother, but their director Jean Chapot was totally intimidated by such huge stars. Delon told him: “Take charge of me, or I’ll take charge of you.” Didn’t work, so Delon directed all his own scenes.. Simone said: “He’s mad, but a tender madman, who takes on the air of being tough, and he’s a generous madman, We worked together happily.”

18 – Eddie Constantine, Lucky Jo, France, 1964. This shou ld have been the first film Delon made with the superlatlve auteur Jean-Pierre Melvile. But he lost interest in Pierre-Vial Lesou’s script of his own novel, Main pleine.  Michel Deville made it as his sixth movie. With, surprisingly, Constantine (nearly twice Delon’s age). Eddie was an American in Paris, a kind of B-movie Sinatra – a singer who fancied himself as a tough guy.

19 – Robert Morse, The Loved One, 1964.   “The motion picture with something to offend everyone…”  It would have been more so if Spanish legend Luis Buñuel had managed to  make it with Guinness in  the mid-1950s. American producer Martin Ransohoff took over the option in 1961, and signed the newly Oscared UK director Tony Richardson, hoping he’d bring his Tom Jones, Albert Finney, with him.  He did not.  And so, the mess began.  With five writers, seven scripts and the Brit poet hero of Evelyn Waugh’s 1948 satire of the American funeral home business, going from Guinness at 50 to Richard Burton and Peter Sellers at 39, to Alain Delon (!) and Finney, 29, to a Beatles mop-topped Morse at 33 – chosen by the author, Evelyn Waugh, but incapable of a UK accent!  (And no one thought Alan Bates, 28, would have been perfect?) As well as Delon, Richardson considered using two other French stars – Jeanne Moreau, his future mistress, and Simone Signoret – in the all-American film! 

20 – Jean Sorel, Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa… (UK: Of A Thousand Delights; US: Sandra),Italy-France, 1965.  Love at first sight for Italian maestro Luchino Visconti.  He first directed Delon in a Paris play in 1961, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore and then in Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and his Brothers) and Le Guepard (The Leopard), and the actor professed enormous love and admiration for Visconti in all his interviews, even invited him to the baptism of his son Anthony. And yet he turned down three of his films: Sandra, Lo straniero and L’Innocente. Surely, he wasn’t still smarting from the severe dressing-down Visconti had given him in front of everyone on The Leopard set three years before… ”Humiliating,” recalled co-star Claudia Cardinale. Or was it because CC had the greater (indeed, her greatest) role. The maestro found another pretty boy. He always did.   Jean Sorel this time… then Helmut Berger.


21 –  George Hamilton, Viva Maria, France, 1965.      

Another Bardot miss… And he was right, because it wouldn’t have worked. BB and Jeanne Moreau finding a fellow French superstar in the midst of a Central American revolution. It would smacked of a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road movie (as if already imitating Benny Hill wasn’t enough!). Hamilton told me about his participation when we met up in Spain.  “My career had just  taken a  nosedive  for  the umpteenth  time  and  I’d gone water-ski-ing in Mexico. My agent told me I’d been offered a  film there – directed by Louis Malle.  That didn’t impress me  much.  Then,  he  told  me the stars  were Bardot and Moreau…  I’ll be right over!”   BB and Delon made more covers than movies. Without an ounce of chemistry between them, they only made  a pair of sketch films: Amours célèbres (US: Famous Love Affairs), 1961, and Histoires extraordinaires (UK/US: Spirits of the Dead), 1968, where their tale was also directed by Malle, who called Delon “the most disagreeable actor  I know  He hated being directed by anyone. Soon after the film, he became his own productuer and directed everything  His rage served his role.” BB: “Alain is certainly handsome.  But so is the Louis XIV commode in my salon.   Only, I don’t communicate with my commode any more than with Alain.  There is nothing in that face, those eyes, nothing that moves, that attracts, nothing that could make one believe in a semblance of truth, of feeling, of passion.  Alain is a cold, extremely egocentric being.”  And, obviously objected to working with anyone prettier than he was.


22 – Stephen Boyd, Poppies Are Also Flowers (aka The Poppy is Also a  Flower), TV, 1965.  The UN  planned six telefilms about its work by Kubrick, Preminger, etc.  Only this one  was made  when Terence Young gave up a third Bond gig to work with 007 creator Ian Fleming on this star-studded (Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Omar Sharif) battle to stop heroin flowing into Europe. Fleming died before completing the script. Everyone else died on-screen.

23 –    George Chakiris, On a volé la Joconde/The Mona Lisa Has Been Stolen, France-Italy, 1966.    Delon rejected Jean-Pierre Melville’s initial offer because, said the best maker of films noir, “he was bucking for an international career.”  Ironically, Michel Deville took it on… with a Hollywood star.


24 –  Horst Buchholz, Marco The Magnificent, France, 1966.
Delon was Marco Polo  when veteran director Christian-Jacque started shooting in 1962. Film ran out of money…  Montgomery Clift was considered to rescue it. Producer Raoul Levy, who saw himself as Yossarin of Catch 22, did more than go broke.  According to Orson Welles, an economics veteran, Levy “almost shut down the Yugoslavian film  industry.” In neither version did Levy have a script. Reported Welles: “We made it up as we went along.” Welles wrote a scene for Omar Sharif, because ”he was standing around looking gloomey.” Anthony Quinn arrived with his own scenarist, hence his Kubla Khan was ‘kindly, benevolent, good, handsome and irresistible to women. There was no grace or virtue which was not written into that character.  And then he played it like Charlie Chan.” [Buchholz was the first lover of Delon’s allegedly greatest amour, Romy Schneider].



Delon was Marco Polo in 1962 – until producer Raoul Levy ran out of money. Montgomery Clift was sought to rescue the film..  Finally,  the German Delon, Horst Buchholz, became Marco The Magnificent, 1966.He took over Delon’s next role, too: Cervantes, (1967).

[courtesy Daniel Bouteiller/Telé Ciné Documentation]

(Clic to enlarge)



25 – Marcello Mastroianni, Lo straniero/The Stranger, Italy/France, 1966.    Two roles fascinated  – and escaped –  the French superstar: Bonapatre and Albert Camus’ ennui-filled Arthur Meursault. Sometime during 1962-1964, Delon  was due to film the Camus book (L’Étranger, 1942) with Italian maestro Luchino Visconti.  He planned to “take Delon in one hand and Camus in the other and really film the book.”  Producer Alfredo De Laurentiis wanted more drama –  “accentuate the colours” – and told Delon to choose: “Him or me.”  Delon chose home. “The biggest regret of my life – of my career!” Visconti was considering two Hollywoodians,  Tony Curtis and George Chakiris, when De Laurentiis said: “Why not Marcello?”  Bingo!

26 –    Horst Buchholz, Cervantes, (US: Young Rebel), France=-Italy-Spain, 1967.     The German Delon subs again as Alain rejects total rubbish purporting to be the early life of Don Quxote author, Miguel de Cervantes.

27 –    Jean-Paul Belmondo, La Sirene du Mississippi, France, 1968.   Despite not having the rights to the William Irish book, the Hakim brothers talked deals with realisateur François Truffaut to make the film with Deneuve and Alan Bates or Delon.  “But,” admitted Truffaut, “I had a crush on Belmondo” since trying to interest him in Fahrenheit 451 in 1962.

28 – Richard Harris, A Man Called Horse, 1968.   Robert Redford –  and Delon – were in the mix when Sam Peckinpah was going to film o Dorothy M Johnson’s story of an English aristocrat’s conversion to the Sioux way of life.  After the extremely painful to watch ceremony when Harris was hung on high by his nipples. Or, indeed, a prosthetic chest from make-up wizard John Chambers.  Doubtless, Peckinpah would, have rejected any such sissy prosthetics! Just as Redford would have rejected the two sequels, Return of…  and Triumphs of a Man Called Horse in 1975 and 1982.

29 –    Bruno Cremer, Bye Bye Barbara, France, 1968.   Refused réalisateur Michel Deville’s vapid tale of… journalist meets girl, journalist loses girl…

30 –    Lino Ventura, L’Armée des Ombres, France, 1969.    Delon made two cult films  with the superlative director Jean-Pierre Melville – and  yet, he  refused Melville’s French Resistance masterpiece. Non! What else you got? Le samourai.  OK see you on that one… “We have an extraordinary complicity during shooting,” said Melville. “This is offset… by the extraordinary complexity of his character… he is subject to fits of depression.”


31 – Jean-Pierre Mocky, Solo, France-Belgium, 1969.   Handsome Mocky had no wish to act as well as directing his script – Delon suddenly fled the first French movie to feature the explosive student riots of May ’68. The Nice-born film-maker is among the most prolific of French auteurs; indeed, only Jean-Luc Godard has made more films, 124 to Mocky’s 78 (between 1959-2017). 

32 – Jean-Pierre Cassel, L’ours et la poupée (US: The Bear and the Doll), France, 1970.      Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon were  furious on discovering, during  a  chance  bistro meeting, that auteur Michel Deville  had  sent them both  the same script and  promise:  “I wrote it just for  you.”  They both left it alone. And so, Delon-Catherine Deneuve, Belmondo-Bardot, Montand/Deneuve (five years before Le sauvage) became Bardot-Cassel  – finally rewarding him  for bringing Une ravissante idiote  to BB’s  attention in 1963 (well, she liked it).  Poupée was a surprise big hit. Everywhere but France where critics moaned they weren’t Kate Hepburn-Cary Grant – while Italian  producers kept chasing them for more of the same.


33 –    Bekim Fehmiu,The Adventurers, 1970.

“We don’t need Delon.  Stars are out of date…  and cost too much.”   So said Paramount chief Charlie Bludhorn, neon-lighting his ignorance. And so, UK director Lewis Gilbert found  an unknown (huge in Sarajevo) to play the priapic hero based by writer Harold Robbins on Porfirio Rubirosa. the Dominican diplomat-playboy with the massive penis. (Paris waiters named their giant pepper-grinders Rubirosas after it). Fehmiu stayed in  films until the 90s. Gilbert (better at James Bondage) agreeed with the general consensus that his film was… terrible! Olivia De Havilland had the best line: “Maybe this whole thing’s a little ridiculous?”

34 – Michel Piccoli, Max et les ferrailleurs (Max and the Junkmen),  France-Italy, 1970.    He had time for Un flic and Melville, or Max for the equally masterful Claude SautetHe chose Meville because he was… Melville!They were a tight, almost osmotic pair, reported Delon’s brother, Jean-François; Delon was captivated by Melville and the auteur was in love with Delon “in the sense that he wanted to be Delon!”  

35 –    Terence Stamp, Une saison en enfer, France-Italy, 1970.     Jean-Pierre Melville had the “fanatstic idea” first – Delon as Rimbaud, Jean-Claude Brialy as Verlaine. Brialy remained Verlaine, but opposite Stamp.

36 –    Maurice Ronet, Raphaël ou le débauché, France, 1971.     Michel Deville called again…  Delon agreed, then changed his mind about being the debauched cynic, full of booze, death, dispair, women,, and a general disgust for life and love. Far too close to his tabloid image. 

37 –    Al Pacino, The Godfather, 1971


38 –    Marlon Brando, Ultimo tango a Parigi/Last Tango In Paris, France-Italy, 1972.     

Losing his ideal couple, Conformistes Jean-Louis Trintignant and Dominique Sanda (pregnant by Jean-Louis’ brother-in-law, Christian Marquand), Italian maestro Bernardo Bertolucci startled Jean-Paul Belmondo, who retorted: “I don’t do porno!” OK, how about Delon? “Sure but I have to produce it!”   Arrivederci, Delon!  “Hi Marlon, it’s Bernardo… Have  I got  a film  for you!!!


39 – Yves Montand, Le hasard et la violence  Chance and Violence or The  Scarlet Room), Italy-France, 1973.   All set as a Melville project called Contre-Enquête when the godfather  of la nouvelle vague died at 55.” Alain was devastated,” said his brother. So he wanted nothing to do with the pieces being picked up by another  Melville friend and disciple:  journalist-novelist-auteur Philippe Labro. (He was with Melville when he died in a Paris restaurant). Unfortunately,  Melville’s scenario  was totally rescored by  Labro and Jacques Lanzmann, two great (film and song) writers, but… no one can make a Melville film but Melville

40 –    Dustin Hoffman, Papillon, 1973.    When asked to direct, Richard Brooks said, sure – with Belmondo and Delon. Too pricey! (Hardly more so than McQueen and Hoffman!)

41 – André Dussollier, Tout une vie (US: And Now My Love; Australia: A Whole Lifetime), France-Italy, 1973.  While driving leading lady Marthe Keller around Aix-en-Provence, flashy realisateur Claude Lelouch said he was thinking of Delon as her co-star.  Fifteen minutes later, he pulled up at an accident between a car and a motor-cyclist who proved to be… Alain Delon! “This is a sign from the gods,” said the actor on hearing about the film as Lelouch drove him home, “that we must work together,”  They never did!  Delon never worked with Truffaut, Chabrol, either.  Well, he wasn’t liked or even admired by everyone in his business.  Most disliked his presumptious manner of talking of himself in the third person:   Alain Delon this, Alain Delon that. He said it was better than to using I, I, I, all the time.

42 –    Lino Ventura, La gifle (The Slap), France-Italy, 1974.    “In the first draft, Alain was the father of Isabelle Adjani, raised by Lino Ventura,” revealed the scenarist  Jean-Loup Dabadie.  “Then, at a meeting with us [Dabadie and director Claude Pinnoteau), he told us: ”Two things: I won’t be long.  One, I’m not doing the film, because I hate my role. Two, you’re not doing it either, because the public will hate the story.  I’m telling you this, because I love you.”  Ventura became the real father and the film – launching Isabelle Adjani, the same way their sequel, La boum, launched Sophie Marceau)  was a stupendous hit. 

43 – Yves Montand, Le sauvage, France-Italy, 1975.     Réalisateur Jean-Paul Rappenau and scenarist Jean-Loup Dabadie wanted Elliott Gould until producer Raymond Danon insisted on French stars.  So, Catherine Deneuve and… ? Jean-Paul Belmondo wanted his latest lady, Laura Antonelli, as his co-star. ”A comedy?” said Delon. Comedies don’t work with me. I mean,  can you see me cooking fish?” (He suggested Claude Brasseur), Lino Ventura didn’t like the story. Finally, Montand fell for the title – but not playing second fiddle to Deneuve.  Can she run more slowly?” he complained. ”Otherwise, I can’t catch her and we’ll have to change the ending.” He never did catch her. Deneuve being among the very few leading ladies he was never able to bed. 

44 – Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.

45 –    Giancarlo Giannini,  L’Innocente, Italy-France, 1975.  Delon rejected his beloved Visconti again… “I didn’t want to see Visconti diminished – in a wheelchair.  I loved and respected him too much for that.”  So no Delon and (ex-lover) Romy Schneider (a Visconti favourite… as, of course, was Delon).  No Ryan O’Neal and Julie Christie, either.  Nor Charlotte Rampling, another Visconti  favourite. He had to make do with Giannini and Laura Antonelli for what proved his 21st and final film. Folllowing a stroke, he died in 1976, ten months after the premiere at the ‘75 Cannes festival.

46 –    Jacques Perrin, Le Crabe-Tambour, France, 1977.  

French military history in Indochina and Algeria form the background to a dying French Navy captain struggling to make a final rendezvous in the North Sea with the titular war hero he had betrayed years before. A stunning movie from director Pierre Schoendoerffer, his usual star, Perrin, and Jean Rochefort (disconcertlngly resembling Inspector Clouseau).  Why did Delon miss such a marvel? “I hate the water, the sea. “I’ve an horror of water. Always  have – despite Plein  Soleil, Les Aventuriersand  La Piscine.  I’m as sick as a dog at sea.  Two months in the North Sea –  impossible for me!  I regret it but I don’t regret not being there.”  But, but what about this sailing in his 1960 breakout Plein soleil (US: Purple Noon).  He’s even at the tiller in the poster!  Well, (a) he was younger, bolder,and (b) that was the bay of Naples  not  the treacherous North Sea.

47-    Patrick Dewaere, Adieu, poulet, France, 1978.    Oh non, non, non…   This won’t do at all!   Ventura has far more to do – and say -than his partner. Big break for Dewaere although he hated playing a cop.Or thought his friends would. 

48 –    Christopher Connolly, Martin Eden, TV, 1979.    Delon read it and tried for it (before it spun into a TV mini). Edith Piaf had given him the book: “It’s you!  Only you should do it!”

49 –    Vadim Glowna, La mort en direct (UK/US: Death Watch), France-West Germany-UK, 1979.  Bad health prevented Bertrand Tavernier regular Philippe Noiret from playing Romy Schneider’s husband. The Lyons realisateur turned to Delon. Yes, well, for obvious reasons. But he was not interested.  For much the same obvious reasons. s.  And, anyway  his scenes with ex-lover Romy were “trop breves.”  Too brief.   Besides their love story history would send the wrong message to the public.  Enter: the German veteran who debuted in Immensee in 1942. At at eight months!

50 –    Gérard Depardieu, Le grand frere, France, 1982. Objected to the politics (racism) and violence (to children). Depardieu felt it could match Night of the Hunter, the favourite US movie of almost every French screen star (probably because an actor directed it. Charles Laughton).


51 – Nicolas Silberg, Mesrine, France, 1983.    Delon was beaten to the rights of L’Instinct de mort by Belmondo – his agent had published the autobiography of Jacques Mesrine, French Public Enemy #1.   Among possible directors, Jean-Luc Godard alone was keen – but on making it with Delon, if Belmondo would sell the rights. Delon refused.   Maybe he’d heard what Godard told Belmondo: “Mesrine killed many people. I’d like to do the same but I don’t have the courage.”

52 –   Jeremy Irons, Un amour de Swann/Swann In Love, France, 1984.     Luchino Visconti planned the full A la recherche du temps perdu plus Du coté chez Swann  with  Marlon Brando and Garbo – and  Delon narrating.  He was also booked as Swann for the next (Joseph Losey-Harold Pinter) project – and finally joined Volker Schlondorff’s version, taking on (Brando’s) gay cameo “in hommage to Visconti.”

53 –   Sting, Dune, 1984.

54  – Joe Dellesandro, The Cotton Club, 1984.     Hoping for more of The Godfather magic, producer Robert Evans had Mario Puzo writing and Francis Coppola directing a gangster/jazz… flop. He even wanted his Paris pal Delpn (once up for Michael Corleone!) to play a small cameo as Lucky Luciano. No way!

55 –  Bernard Giraudeau, Bras de fer, France, 1985.    Or, Coup fourre as réalisateur Gérard Vergez first called it. Closer to Jules et Jim in WWII…! The plot is preposterous. I mean, two Frenchies working for the UK Secret Service takes some believing. Giraudeau had worked  with Delon in Deux hommes dans la ville (US: Two Men in Town), Le Gitan (The Gypsy) and Le toubib (The Medic) and proved a fine Delon substitute, both here and in Patrice Leconte’s Les specialists among his 80 screen roles  before his 2010 death.

56 – Yves Afonso, Double messieurs, France, 1986.  Second of three films auteured by Francois Truffaut’s former assistant director and actor, Jean-Fracoise Stevenin.  Compared by French critics to both Cassavetes and Eastwood (lord knows why, or how – he could be one or t’other, but never both), he always thought about a rôle for  Delon.  Too pricey, of course. Hence, Alfonso – who, ironically, closely resembled Belmondo more than Delon.


57 – Burt Reynolds, Malone, 1987.

Christoper Frank bought William P Wingate’s book, for a hesitant Delon. He found it “baroque,  symbolic,  interesting but    not necessarily commercial,” renewed his option until selling the rights to producer Alain Terzian who aimed for   Gérard Depardieu, then Christophe(r)  Lambert before Hollywood raided the dustbin. To no great avail.


58 –  Guy Marchand, Charlie Dingo, France, 1987.       Wise move.

59 –  Bernard Giraudeau, L’homme voile, France. 1987.        Subbed again by “the new Delon” – although he had yet to prove it.

60 – Gerard Lanvin, Saxo, France 1988.    “New”  Delons were everywhere!


61 – Murray Head, La barbare, France, 1989.    Their mythic love story was long over when Mireille Darc started a directing debut – and  could think of one star only. Her producer, Norbet Saada, went to see Delon.  “Almost before I got out of the lift, he opened  his front door and said: I won’t do it!”

62 – Patrick Catalifo, Diên Biên Phú, France, 1991.    No more war, said Delon. He’d had his fill. With the real thing – in Indochina in the 50s.  Plus Lost Command, 1965, with Anthony Quinn, and Le toubib (The Medic), 1970.   So he bypassed Pierre Schoendoerffer’s docu-style re-staging the 55-day seige and battle that had the French losing another war, Indochine being split into North and South Vietnam, leading to the 1955-1975  war costing up to 3.5m lives.  Schoendoerffer had been there, at 25,  as a news photographer – and POW after the fall. His son, Ludovic, played him, in this third  of his four ‘Nam studies: La 317ème section, 1964, his Oscar-winning documentary, La section Anderson 1966., and its 20-years-after follow-up, Reminiscence, 1989. His other son, Frédéric, had helmed nine screen works by 2020. Delon’s replacement, Castalifo had been approved by the star for a role in his Ne réveillez pas un flic qui dort (Let Sleeping Cops Lie), 1988.

63 – Peter Coyote, Lune de fiel/Bitter Moon, France, 1992.  Auteur André Téchiné  lost interest when  Delon passed on his version of Pascal Bruckner’s  1981 book,  Lunes de fiel (a pun on Lune de miel”- honeymoon in French). Roman Polanski got the rights and starred his wife Emmanuelle Seigner as a voracious seductress – she called the film a mistake. Roger Ebert agreed: “High porn, low art. The word ‘lurid’ was coined to describe films like this.” At least, the American Coyote (beating James Woods to her paralysed huband) got some great Cerruti suits out of it.

64  – Jean-Pierre Mocky, Le mari de Léon  (Léon’s Husband),  France, 1992.   Eternal rivals Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo a refused. Likewise stand-up Guy Bedos, Richard Bohringer, Bernard Giradeau and acteur-realisateur Robert Hossein. In fact, Malkovich was the only star to agree to film Frederic Dard’s best-seller, although he did not (then) speak French well enough. “Unthinkable with his accent,” said Mocky, who then played the role, himself. And not for the first time among his 82 directing credits.

65 –    Olivier Martinez, Le Hussard sur le toit, France, 1995.     The Jean Giono classic was nearly made oh-so-many times with the heroic Angelo passing from Gérard Philippe and Marlon Brando to Anthony Perkins and Delon 

66 –    Harvey Keitel, To Vlemma tou Odyssea/Uylsses’ Gaze, Greece, 1995.      Director Theo Angelopoulos’s third choice proved as unavailable as Al Pacino and Daniel Day-Lewis. However, Keitel was not so averse to locations in war-torn Bosnia.

67 –    Anthony Hopkins, The Mask of Zorro, 1998.        No to Steven Spielberg…!   When Hopkins first refused the role of the old, retiring Zorro who trains a young successor, in the Amblin project, Bondsmith Martin Campbell sent the script to Delon – because he was “the right age and talent” and not because he’d seen his 1975 Zorro; – which he thought terrible except for Delon’s “impeccable look.”  Delon was making his stage comeback at the time. “I made the Italian Zorro for my son,” he explained on French TV. “He called me Zorro after that. Now, I’ve a new young son, and he calls me Zorro, too.” Just not Zorro II!

68 – Johnny Hallyday, Mischka, France, 2001.  

For his third film as director, actor  Jean-François  Stevenin thought Delon could play himself – as French rocker Johnny Hallyday does – in this  caustic tale  (well, it suggested by  Bertrand  Blier as a kind of Merci la vie II) . A grandad left by his family in  a soiled pink nightie at a petrol station in the middle of nowhere. Stevenin, who had already played 190 other screen roles, saved money by playing  the old geezer’s protector and by using his three actor kids: Robinson, Salome and Pierre.  Delon probably would have refused Hallyday’s opening scene pissing in an open field.

69 –    Richard Berry Corto Maltese, France, 2002.    Long before Christophe(r) Lambert sprung the comicbook rights, Delon had tried to make the film. He was rejected by creator Hugo Pratt, who felt David Bowie made a s better sailor hero. The final, animation version was voiced by Berry.

70 – Patrick Chesnais, L‘Un contre l’autre, France, TV, 2004. Auteur Pierre Granier-Deferre who made Delon as  socialist politician inn  La race des ‘seigneurs’, 1973, now saw hima s, of all things… a farme ! No go. so it fell to réalisateur Dominique Baron  to make  the movie  with Chesnais and  Éva Darlan ttring to  cope  after the death of one of their three sons.   Although, a dozen years younger  Chesnais always looked older than  Delon and was, therefore, a better fit for Remi.


71 –    Rip Torn, Marie-Antoinette, 2005.      Director Sofia Coppola was reported “furious” with how Delon used her offer to play Louis XV for his own publicity.  He had photographers on tap when she visited him in his theatre dressingroom and when he took her to dinner.   And then, he refused her! He could not be in a movie where he had to wear a wig, but that he would do any contemporary role she offered.

72 –   Gérard Depardieu, L’instinct de mort, France, 2008.  Angry with the producer Thomas Langmann (also behind Delon’s Julius Caesar cameo in  Astérix aux jeux olympiques), he withdrew from being Guido (the killer’s first gangser boss) in  the second biopic about the French Dillinger, Jacques Mesrine.  Thirty years  before ,Delon  had been beaten to the rights by his arch rival Jean-Paul Belmondo –  who  had his script  approved by Mesrine, himself. With some advice. “Don’t put The End.  It’s not over yet.” Then,  he promptly escaped from  jail… 

73 – Bruno Debrandt, Le Repenti (UK: Reborn), TV, France, 2008. Not new enough for Delon, it eventually became a two-parter tele-film about a Dunkirk criminal reborn after plastic surgery and persuaded by a judge to infiltrate and demolish his old gang. After competing at the 2009 Luchon film festival, it was not seen again until May 2010. Debrandt was, though, scoring 33 more credits by 2020. 


74 – Johnny Hallyday, Vengeance, Hong Kong-France, 2009.  
Delon was in until he decided to be out of the thriller about a French chef (!) seeking revenge  for the killing of his daughter’s family in Macau . Paris suggested rock star Hallyday. “Who?” grunted Hong Kong director Johnnie To.  But then Johnnie met Johnny – a match made by French money. “Delon refused,” said Johnny, “because the character had Alzhemier’s… Didn’t bother me and Johnnie changed it, anyway He preferred   that  Costello’s memory was caused  by a bullet lodged in his brain…” Costello was Delon’s name in  the Hong Kong director’s favourite movie, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le samouraï, 1967.  In late 2009, Johnnie To  gave up plans to re-vamp Melville’s penultimate film – as Red Circle – with Liam Neeson, Chow Yun Fat and… Delon.  As if anyone could re-make Melville.  



75 – Jean Reno, L’Immortel (22 Bullets), France, 2009.  As Michael Corleone (once offered to Delon) famously put it: “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in…”   Inheriting the Delon throwaway (because director Richard Berry was an actor?), Reno, producer Luc Besson’s hit-man Leon, is now a Mafia chief Charly Matteï, happily retired – until blasted with22 bullets by his rivals. Obviously, he survives (otherwise no movie) and hits the revenge trail… It actually happened during 70s’ gang warfare in Marseilles (where else?). Berry, who voiced Corto Maltese instead of Delon in 2002, also cameoed as Rampoli. “Slickly pompous fare for fans of gangland torture and revenge-motivated murders,“ said American-in-Paris critic Lisa Nesselson, “overlaid with a selective patina of twisted family values and codes of honour.”

76 – Gérard Lanvin, Les Lyonnais, France-Belgium, 2011.   Ex-cop turned  excellent autuer of cop thrillers, Olivier Marchal’s #1  ambition was  create a (last?) great role for the French movie legend, with nods to his glorious hts. Result: the gypsy-raised gangster Mamon was tailor-made for Delon. Marchal asked #1 TV host Michel Drucker to help introduce them.  And after “a few whacky meetings,”  Birth year: 1935Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  77