Robert Hossein


  1. Louis Jourdan, Le comte de Monte Cristo (US: The Story of the Count of Monte Cristo), France-Italy, 1961. What began as a 100% French production  lurched into  a Franco-Italian pudding after some  some production chicanery and poor Hossein was out of the two-parter (90 minutes each) as Jourdan became Edmond Dantés. (He was state attorney DeVillefort in the rather better 1975 TVersion opposite Count Richard Chamberlain).
  2. Clint Eastwood, Per un pugno di dollari/For A Fistful of Dollars, Italy-Spain-Germany, 1964. The French actor-director refused but remained friends with the then unknown director Sergio Leone – who helmed one scene of Hossein’s own caemebert Western (dedicated to Leone): Une corde, un colt (US: Cemetery Without Crosses), 1969. Hossein was to play a Russian colonel and be second- -unit director for his friend’s Leningrad siege project when Leone died.
  3. Jean Sorel, L’homme qui rit, France, 1965. Despite being a decade too old for the 25-year-old hero, Italian producer Carlo Ponti booked Hossein in 1962 for the first talkie version of Victor Hugo’s Man Who Laughs. Once realising there was no real part for the wife, Sophia Loren, Ponti switched to re-hashing Madame Sans-Gene for her. With an unhappy Hossein, trapped by his Ponti pact, into playing her husband. The Frenchman’s biggest movie triumph in an overly melodramatic career (as actor and director) was as Joffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique series. Both Joffrey and Victor Hugo’s hero had facial scars, Gwyneplaine’s being a mutilated mouth which gave him a constant grin. (Where else did Batman’s Joker come from?) Sorel headed the first talkie made by spaghetti Western director Sergio Corbucci, when Gwynplaine became Angelo and Josiane… Lucrezia Borgia, no less!
  4. Gabriele Ferzetti, Cera una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West, Italy-US, 1968.   He even appeared on an early Rome poster. But Gaumont had Hossein on a tighter contract than he thought and stopped him playing the crippled railway tycoon, Morton. in his friend Sergio Leone’s Western classic. (Hossein had earlier been unavailable when asked to be part of the Dollars trilogy). Oddly, Gaumont never interfered when Leone suggested Hossein to another pal, auteur Luigi Magni, for Nell’anno del Signore/In The Year of the Lord), 1969. So Hossein shared a movie with Claudia Cardinale, after all!
  5. Nicol Williamson, Laughter in the Dark, 1969. Long before the Williamson version (that started with Richard Burton being fired!), the French stage-screen over-actor-director tried to set up a Paris version with Marie-France Pisier – and US exile Joseph Losey directing.
  6. Jean-Pierre Mocky, Le mari de Léon  (Léon’s Husband),  France, 1992.   Eternal rivals Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon refused. Likewise the acteur-realisateur Robert Hossein, stand-up ikon Guy Bedos, Richard Bohringer  and Bsernards Giradaeu. 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.





 Birth year: 1927Death year: 2020Other name: Casting Calls:  6