1. - Charles Aznavour, Les Metamorphose des Cloportes, 1965. The extraordinary Belgian singer refused so late that shooting had already begun. Producers ran to Aznavour - singing at the Oiympia. “I can’t do both,” he said. They pleaded, arranged special times for him “and one of Zanuck’s aides came to talk money - and I got the first big salary of my life.”
2. - Michel Bouquet, La femme infidele, France-Italy, 1968. Rather like Michael Douglas banging on about Basic Instinct as a drama of redemption (!), the Belgian singer told nouvelle vague icon Claude Chabrol what really interested him was the script’s rapport between father and son. “Which,” as Chabrol later remarked, “proved he hadn’t read the scenario.” Never mind, he’d always wanted Bouquet. And kept him for La rupture, 1970, and wed him again to his wife (Stephane Audran) in Juste avant la nuit, 1972.
3. - Bernard Fresson, Ursule et Grelu, France, 1973. The last time Annie Girardot saw her ex-lover was in 1972 when he turned up to explain he couldn’t play the bearded accordianist and con-man lover her new film - making no mention of the cancer that would kill him within five years. His “volanic” replacement was her fourth important lover after Claude Lelouch, Renato Salvatore and Brel.
4. - Rufus, Marriage, France, 1974. Brel and director Claude Lelouch had a great time making L’aventure, c’est l’aventure. 1972, but the onset of the singer-actor’s fatal lung cancer would not allow him to be Annie Giradot’s husband in a sombre look at wedded bliss. (Both Lelouch and Brel had previous affairs with Annie).