Francisco Rabal

1. – Fernando Rey, The French Connection, 1970. “The way that film was cast,” said director William Friedkin, “it was like the Movie God took care of it… I’d say: ‘Let’s get that guy from Belle de Jour, the one who played the gangster.’ Because the real drug kingpin from the story was a Corsican. A rough hewn guy, unshaven, longshoreman type. So my casting guy comes back and says: “The guy’s name is Fernando Rey, he’s done a lot of films with Luis Buñuel and he speaks English.’ I said: ‘Get him!’ So they make a deal with him… So I ride out to JFK to pick Fernando up. Don’t see him. Finally I get paged, I go to the desk and see this guy. I recognise him from other movies. But he’s not the guy I was talking about!! I say: ‘Weren’t you in Belle de Jour? ‘Oh, no.’ So I get him to his hotel. I call [the office] and I’m screaming. ‘You fucking morons! This is not the guy!…This guy is completely wrong!!” [Laugh]. We did, indeed, get the wrong guy. The guy we really wanted, from Belle de Jour was Francisco Rabal, who it turns out is also Spanish, speaks no French, speaks no English, and isn’t even available. So we’re stuck with Fernando Rey! And the rest is movie history!” Rabal later made Friedkin’s Sorcerer, 1976. (Blake Edwards had a similar muddle in 1976: see NICOLA PAGETT).


 Birth year: 1926Death year: 2001Other name: Casting Calls:  1