Catherine Deneuve


  1. Michèle Mercier, Angélique, marquise des anges, France, 1964.     Brigitte Bardot refused what became a series of five.   Her usual producer Francis Cosne brought in the clones:   Deneuve (too pale), Jane Fonda (too American). Virna Lisi (too busy).  With the exception of Lisi, Monica Vitti  and Marina Vlady, they’d all been tested and trained in Vadim’s bed.
  2. Nathalie Tehahe, Le reflux, France, 1965.   Deneuve and Roger Vadim were planning to marry in Tahiti and then  stick around for roles  the film  of Vadim’s pal (everyone was Vadim’s pal), the Chabrol scenerist Paul Gégauff turning realisateur for the first (and last) time. Reality proved more dramatic than the script… First, on the eve of their nuptials (“literally on the eve,” snapped Deneuve), a family crisis erupted in their faces. Mme Vadim II,  Annette Stroyberg, told him: “You will  never see our daughter again if you wed that girl.”  Next,  and inevitably, Deneuve fell into such a low state,  she was ordered off the film by a doctor. Vadim then  ran into another pal, a certain Marlon Brando, who agreed that his latest Tahitian lover, the sculptural Tehahe, take over the role.  The film was never released in France.  “Vava” never wed “Cath.”  Instead,  he wrote his next film  for her: Le Vice et la Vertu.  That said it all…
  3. Toby Robbins, The Naked Runner, 1967.    “It’s a magnificent role for a new actress,” said Brad Dexter, Sinatra’s buddy made into a producer for saving Ole Blue Eyes from drowning in Hawaii during None But The Brave, 1965.  “She should be Danish [Robbins is Canadian] but there’s more talent,  acting-wise in London than any place else. Whoever gets this role, I’m gonna take on contract.” But then he also said the film would net Sinatra another Oscar.   As a producer, Brad was a better life-saver.

      (Clic to enlarge)  
      La Deneuve opposite John Phillip Law’s anti-hero, Diabolik. The role was Eva Kant. Exactly what  said director Mario Bava said about  Catharine – and replaced her with  Marisa Mell.  (No better).
    © Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica/Marianne Productions/Paramount Pictures, 1967.

  4. Marisa Mell, Diabolik (US: Danger: Diabolik), Italy-USA, 1967.   Sacked  after a week’s work with titular star John Philip Law. The experience put her off  action movies – to the extent that she (foolishly) refused  to be Tracy, the first and only Mrs James Bond in…
  5. Diana Rigg, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.

  6. Brigitte Bardot, L’ours et la poupée (US: The Bear and The Doll), France, 1969.    
    After several mis-starts, Bardot  finally won  a comedy with Jean-Pierre Cassel rewarded at last for bringing Une ravissante idiote to BB’s attention in 63Auteur Michel Deville  first wanted Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Belmondo. She agreed, having just made La Sirene du Mississippi with him. He disagreed having just made La Sirene du Mississippi with her. And so, Alain DelonDeneuve, Jean-Paul BelmondoBardot, MontandDeneuve (five years before Le sauvage) became BardotCassel  – finally rewarded 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 HepburnCary Grant – while Italian  producers kept chasing them for more of the same.

  7. Laura Antonelli, Les Mariés de l’an II (UK: The Scoundrel), France-Italy-Roumania, 1970.     A schedule clash prevented her co-starring with Jean-Paul Belmondo in  the costume piece, circa 1787.  Bebel’s lover, Ursual Andress, joined him on the Roumanian shoot. Two films later, Laura usurped her.  And in five years, Laura was usurped in turn by the volcanique Brazilian, Carlos Sotto Mayor!
  8. Delia Boccardo, Martin Eden, TV, Italy, 1970.      Director Yves Boisset planned a  French  film before it  became Jack London – Italian  style.
  9. Marlene Jobert, La Decade Prodigieuse (US: Ten Days Wonder),  France-Italy, 1971.     “A failed film,” admitted realisateur Claude Chabrol. First, he had to take a break soon after shooting began. Next, when he  returned, Deneuve could not.  And third, enter: Marlene… totally  lost, to the detriment of the script, when finding herself up against the mighty Orson Welles. He loved the film. “I’ve been earning my living as an actor for more than 40 years now,”  he wrote to Cha-Cha, “and I’ve never beem with a director I’m so eager to work with again, or so happy to have as a friend.” Deneuve had fled for maestro Marco Ferreri’s Liza – first of several films with Mastroianni. Becoming lovers, they had a daughter:  French star  Chiara Mastroianni.
  10. Romy Schneider, Max et les ferrailleurs, France, 1971.     Despite her impact in his Choses de la vie, director Claude Sautet first bypassed Romy for s the hooker-lover of Michel Piccoli’s Max. Sautet, however, was greatly  put off by  the famous rapid-fire  delivery of Deneuve.

  11. Françoise Fabian, Raphaël ou le débauché,  France,  1971.      The original  plan of  realisateur Michel Deville was Deneuve and Delon. But, it has to be said, François and Maurice Ronet worked better.   Less baggage.
  12. Ligia Branice, Blanche, France, 1971.    Jean Marais wanted not more money, but Deneuve as  the titular young, pure, beautiful wife – or no deal. No way, said Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, who wrote the film for his usual muse – his wife.  When Jacques Perrin took over, Boro was shocked because Perrin also wanted Deneuve. As co-producer, Perrin even shut the film down in a Mexican stand-off to get her.  But Boro was not being told what to do by an actor… even if he had put up up half the budget!   Marais and Perrin had fallen (heavily) for Catherine  the previous year when making Peau d’âne together.
  13. Maria Schneider, Ultimo tango à Parigi/Last Tango In Paris,  France-Italy, 1972.     If Deneuve had played the part, I would have pushed Marlon to dirty the kind of bourgeois innocence that she always projects,” maestro Bernardo Bertolucci told the New York Times. “I wanted him to dirty it in order to show that bourgeois purity does not really exist. The bourgeoisie can’t be innocent, for class reasons.”  However,  like his first choice Dominique Sanda, Deneuve was pregnant… with  Chiara, her daughter, with Marcello Mastroianni –  acting opposite  both parents by the  90s.

  14. Romy Schneider, Cesar et Rosalie,  France, 1972.   
    Troubled  by his previous flops, the immaculate realisateur Claude Sautet came back strongly with Les Choses de la Vie, 1970,  and was then able to get his semi-autobiographical love triangle back on track…   Two guys in love with the same woman… BB-Ventura-Belmondo became BB-Gassman-Belmondo, then Deneuve-Montand-Belmondo, then Schneider-Montand-Depardieu, ultimately, beautifully, Schneider-Montand-Sami Frey… Oskar Werner  refused the  younger guy. Well, he’d been here before and saw little reason to modernise Jules et Jim, the French classic   that made  him a  star in ’62..  (Besides he was the same age as his César, Vittorio Gassmann, a year younger than Yves Montand). When Deneuve (for whom Sautet had co-written Rappenau’s first feature, La vie de chateau, 1966) proved pregnant Annie Giradot wanted it.Marlene Jobert pleaded for itNot for the first time, Sautet called Romy. She agreed after reading ten pages. And  she was glorious, having understood  why Deneuve refused:  Rosalie was an emmerdeur  (a bloody nuisance).  Co-scenarist Jean-Loup Dabadie hated her “for making everyone unhappy by not being able to choose between her two men.” Result:  Claude Sautet’s greatest box-office triumphhis most personal work –  the most cherished by the French public.

  15. Dominique  Sanda, The Impossible  Object, 1973.    The Brechtian director  Joseph Losey’s Deneuve-Dirk Bogarde became John  Frankenheimer’s Sanda-Alan Bates. And a  massive flop.  
  16. Isabelle Adjani, L’histoire d’Adele H, 1975.      Realisateur François Truffaut broke his promise to his lover about playing Victor Hugo’s sad-sack daughter (much the same happened when Jeanne Moreau was his mistress).  He  fell for the beauty and (unfinished) talent of the Comedie Francaise runaway.
  17. Marthe Keller, Bobby Deerfield, 1976.      Catherine revealed in an interview that a director he couldn’t remember – “he sometimes acts as well, for Woody Allen and others…”  – wanted her for the enigmatic and dying lover of the titular Al Pacno’s The director she couldn’t  remember  was Sydney Pollack.
  18. Nicole Garcia, Le cavaleur, France, 1978.      She  considered the role too small, so film-maker Philippe De Broca immediately suggested Garcia. Non, thundered the Money Men. Oui, insisted De Broca. And she won a César! She later directed Deneuve to the Venice festival Best Actress award  for Place Vendome, 1998 .
  19. Dominique  Sanda, Une chambre en ville,  France, 1982.      “She wanted to do her own singing,” sighed realsiateur Jacques Demy, “and Catherine doesn’t know how to  sing  at all.” He should know, he had her dubbed in two joyous  musicals: Les  parapluies de Cherboug, Les demoiselles de Rochefort, 1964-67. 
  20. Jane Birkin, Circulez y’a rien a voir!  France, 1982.   The tile comes from the police order to the  oublic at a crime scene:  Move along, nothing to see  here… But there was! – certainly behind the scenes.  In a kind e-mail  about his “casting waltzes,” auteur Patrice Leconte told me he had decided to mix oil and vinegar, “the old comedic formula  of two totally incompatible characters.” Like Michel Blanc and Catherine Deneuve… “No thanks,” she said. “We then turned to Raquel Welch. Dead end.” (Welch had shot L’Animal in 1977 for the same producer Christian Fechner – and, ironically (insanely!), playing Jane Birkin’s stunt double!).  “So we moved on to Jane, whom I really like, but who was not the character:   a good pal, not a femme fatale The situation asked for an out of reach lady. Jane is the girl next door, very friendly. She calls you tu the minute she meets you. By no means should she be held responsible for this flop.” “Never mind,” she told him. “I’ve made worse!”

  21. Jane Birkin, La Femme de ma vie,  France, 1986.    La   Deneuve felt the drunken violinist’s wife was lacking ambiguity and… violence.  “She preferred the husband’s role,” said debuting director Régis Wargnier. He call his pal, Michel Piccoli with the news. He was holidaying with realisateur Jacques Doillon and his then lover… Jane Birkin!   Wargnier won Deneuve for two later films, including the  role of her life – Indochine, 1992
  22. Stephane Audran, Babettes gaestebud/Babette’s Feast, Denmark, 1987.    Deneueve in the kitchen – hardly believable!
  23. Sabine Azema, Vanille fraise,  France, 1989.    Well rid of  an unfunny comedy. Her planned partner, Michel Blanc, wrote his next comedy for her. And she rejected that as well…
  24. Sabine Azema, La Vie et rien d’autre, France, 1989.   When insurance  companies ruled out the prennant Fanny Ardant, realisateur Bertrand Tavernier – removed for the grimmest of  French movies – courted Deneuve for play Irene de Courtil, It was easier to win the star of his  (more cheerful) Un dimanche à la campagne.
  25. Domiziana Giordano, Nouvelle vague, Switzerland-France, 1989.     When searching in 1964 for a project to help save his marriage to Anna Karina, bilious realisateur Jean-Luc Godard suggested a story of an actress caught between two men – played by the same man (Jean-Paul Belmondo). Producer Mag Bodard said: Only with Deneuve. Nothing came of it. In 1987, producer Marin Karmitz suggested a film with Mastroianni – who passed on what eventually became Nouvelle vague with Alain Delon, thoroughly bemused on and off-screen, struggling with having Godard’s last minute dialogue on cue-cards.
  26. Carole Bouquet, Grosse Fatigue, 1994.     Actor Michel Blanc’s caustic view of stardom and  fame began as a 1991 script with Deneuve playing herself.  Bouquet was a surprisingly effective substitute.  
  27. Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1994.    Also short-listed for author Robert Waller’s Italian war bride Francesca were:  Jacqueline Bisset,  Claudia Cardinale, Jessica Lange, Sophia Loren, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon. After tentative efforts by directors Bruce  Beresford, Mike Newell, Sydney Pollack and the mighty Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood took over the helm. And casting. In a trice.  Clint and Catherine made a fine looking couple when presiding over the ’94 Cannes festival. 
  28. Fanny Ardant, Par-dela les nuages, France-Italy-Germany, 1995.    Star  power for Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s first film in six years waxed and waned despite (or due to) the overall control of the German cineaste Wim Wenders’. 
  29. Anémone, Lautrec, France, 1998.      Originally, a German project – Volker Schloendorff directing David Bennent as Deneuve’s crippled son – until Roger Planchon made it  as (surprisingly) the first French biopic of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
  30. Monica Belluci, Under Suspicion, 1998.     For the Romy  Schneider role  in this Franco-US re-make of Claude Miller’s Garde a vue.  Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman re-ran Lino Ventura and Michel  Serrault. Apallingly.

  31. Sabine Azema, Tanguy, France, 2001.      New mother for the hero, 30 and  still living with his folks (Azema and André Dussollier in their fifth film).
  32. Nathalie Baye, Catch Me If You Can,  2002.   Deneuve and Jeanne  Moreau – who else would head Spielberg’s short list (including Baye and Judith Godreche) for Leonardo DiCaprio ‘s mother. Baye had to miss the tests because of filming. Steven Spielberg (who’d loved her since Truffaut’s Une chambre verte 21 years earlier) sent his mate, Brian De Palma, to Paris to test her as soon as she became available. And so, Baye also beat Carole Bouquet to the role, six years after she supplanted  Nathalie in La Rouge et le Noir because Baye was “almost a has-been.”  Hah! 
  33. Isabelle Huppert, I Heart Huckabee’s, 2004.    Change of French sirens  as director David O Russell tried to be Paul Thomas Anderson. And failed.  That could explain his rotten temper on the set. He later became an excellent… David O Russell.
  34. Frances de la Tour, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2004.   When he couldn’t slip Carole Bouquet free from her Canal Plus fetters, UK director Mike Newell chased various other French actresses – Deneuve, Emmanuelle Seigner, Audrey Tautou – to be Hagrid’s romantic interest, Madame Olympe Maxime, headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, in the fourth of eight movies from JK Rowling’s books.
  35. Charlotte Rampling,  Basic Instinct 2, 2005.     Sharon Stone spoke of Deneuve for Milena Gardosh, the other shrink, in the absurd sequel.
  36. Nathalie Baye, La Californie, France, 2005.    Realisateur Andrè Téchiné dabbled with the idea of starring Catherine The Great in  two Simenon adaptations, La chambre bleue, and this one – becoming the scenarist Jacques Fieschi’s directing debut. 
  37. Lea Drucker, La chambre bleue, France, 2013.      Before Mathieu Almaric writer-directed and starred in his version,  Andrè Téchiné, had flirted with the project for Deneuve … about  Georges Simenon’s room, by the way, not Arthur  Schnitzler’s – made infamous on the London stage by Nicole Kidman in 1998. 
  38. Nicole Garcia, Belles familles, France, 2015.       Réalisateur Jean-Paul Rappenau lost Deneuve (star of his La vie de Chateau and Le Sauvage) as Mathieu Almaric’s mother. She was too busy join Rappeneau’s most personal opus.








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