Romy Schneider

  1. Janet Munro, Third Man on the Mountain, 1959.  Romy made a screentest for Disney but refused to play James MacArhur’s girlfriend. She hated the way Disney wanted to turn her into an American Sissi (her 1955 breakthrough).
  2. Marie Laforet, Plein soleil, (UK: Blazing Sun; US: Purple Noon), France-Italy, 1959.  The film that made Alain Delon a French superstar. He did not get on well with his singer co-star (not as well as his rival Jean-Paul Belmondo did, booking her for three movies). Delon obviously wanted his lover to play Tom Ripley’s girl, Marge. Auteur René Clément made it clear he was already taking a chance on Delon as an actor – not as casting director, as well.  However, to placate his star,  Clément gave Romy a walk-on in the first scene.
  3. Elsa Martinelli & Jeanne Moreau, Le Procès/The Trial, FranceItalyWest GermanyYugoslavia 1962.   Orson Welles’ casting was suitably Kafkaian. He had no idea who would be playing which female role.
  4. Michèle Mercier, L’Aine des Ferchaux (UK/US: Magnet of Doom), France-Italy, 1963. Réalisateur Jean Valère wanted Alain Delon  opposite his lover,  Romy Schneider, and Michel Simon  He accepted, signed, started camel-riding lessons in a French zoo, then changed his mind… 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 Bebel for any future films (so Delon did them all!) because of the way he treated the veteran Vanel on-set. “Stop!”yelled  Belmondo. “ You have no right to talk to him like that.”
  5. Elke Sommer, A Shot in the Dark, 1964.     In the second  Inspector Clouseau trip,  Maria Gambrelli was created for Peter Sellers’ lover (or so he implied, even believed) Sophia Loren, but she was “ill” on her husband Carlo Ponti’s orders (apparently, he believed Sellers’ boast!).  Romy, the next choice, was delayed in Hollywood.

  6. Jean Seberg, Lilith,  1964.   
    Broke – refusing scripts over 16 months – Warren Beatty started chasing top Euro-actresses – for his Robert Rossen film (now that their Cocoa Beach plans were shredded). Beatty was fascinated by Samantha Eggar (a redhead, bien sur), but Romy had the edge. He followed her from Vienna to Paris. “She thought he was ridiculous,” said photographer Sam Shaw.    “He gawked and followed her around. She refused to play opposite Warren.”  And to prove it, the following year she made the film that he didn’t: What’s New Pussycat. Also in the mix: Dianes Baker and Cilento (Mrs Sean Connery at the time and the author JR Salamanca’s choice), Sarah Miles (too busy with her secret lover, Laurence Olivier), Yvette Mimieux (who discovered the book and took it to Rossen) and Natalie Wood. Seberg, who never understood why it was not given to Audrey Hepburn, was delighted to win. “I’d really begun to reach the end of my little American girls in Paris.”  Romy simply refused to play opposite Warren.” And to prove it, the following  year she  made the film he didn’t: What’s New Pussycat.

  7. Capucine, What’s New Pussycat,   1964. Warren Beatty supplied the title (his telephone greeting to all hio ladies)  and agreed to a stand-upl called Wopdy Allen writing the scrip – until Woody’s role was funnier than his.(Quelle surprise!). Beatty quit when producer  Charles K Feldman chose his lover as the leading lady and  not Beatty’s lady of the hour, Leslie Caron – or the one he’d chassed for so long, Romy.

  8. Jeanne Moreau, Mademoiselle, UK-France, 1965.     Problem was that too many people “owned” it as writer Jean Genet kept selling the rights when he needed money. Orginally, he’d written it for Anouk Aimeé,   as a wedding present when he was Best Man at her marriage to her second husband, Ethiopian auteur Nikos Papatakis in 1951. She  offered the script to her La tête contre les murs director Georges Franju. “If I’d agreed to Romy Schneider,” he said, “I could’ve made it straight away. When I mentioned Anouk, the producers replied: It’s not Anouk these days, it’s Marie Laforet.”  Genet  was mpt interested in  Schneider. “You  show me a jewel, I wouldn’t swop it it against a false pearl and German at that.” Franju  next preferred Emmanuelle Riva before Tony Richardson directed Moreau; two years (and one more film together) later, she was co-respondent in his divorce from Vanessa Redgrave. 

  9. Barbara Steele, Der junge Törless (US: Young Torless), West Germany-France, 1965. A year earlier, Italian maestro  Luchino Visconti planned a version of Robert Musil’s 1906 novel with his pretty-boy find Helmut Berger as the Austro-Hungarian military boarding schoolboy – opposite Rampling as the local hooker  named Bozena. Instead, it became the memorable debut of director Volker Schlöndorff… and, indeed, of the New German Cinema. Ironically, Schlöndorff also “inherited” another cherished Visconti dream, making A la recherche du temps perdu in 1983 as  L’Amour de Swann.

  10. Anouk Aimée, Un homme et une femme, France, 1966.     Rising realisateur Claude Lelouch (and his male lead, Jean-Louis Trintignant) always wanted Anouk, but met Romy via a friend of her then lover Alain Delon. Lelouch was in no mood to relate the story after her comment (probably via Delon) that the critics at  Les Cahiers du Cinema magazine didn’t think much of his movies.

  11. Monca Vitti, Modesty Blaise, 1965.
    Mim Scala of tLondon’s  Scala Browne Agency was among the many falling for Peter O’Donnell’s comic-strip heroine. He  swiftly  snapped up the rights for the brilliant choices of Barbara Steele as the master criminal often helping Her Majesty’s Secret Service  and Michael Caine as her loyal Cockney lieutenant (and lover?) Willie Garvin.  Scala then sold his rights to the Italian-born UK producer Joseph Janni who, after dointg everything right with Darling, made every possible mistake – signing Michelangelo Antonioni’s Italian muse, Monica Vitti (instead of Romy Schneider),  and Terence Stamp as the anti-heroes and, of all possible directors, Joseph Losey. (Would you ask Losey to direct a Bond movie?  No. So why pick him for  an 007- wannabe!)  Ann Turkel, the then Mrs Richard Harris, was  Blaise in a 1982  TV pilot   that never flew – and true Brit Alexandra Staden headed an 18-day production in 2003 (so rushed, in order to make sure Miramax retained the rights, that a Willie was never found and he was simply cut from the scenario!). Quentin Tarantino wanted to try  his version with Uma Thurman. However, Modesty remains the most wasted star of British fiction…

  12. Rita Hayworth, Poppies Are Also Flowers, 1966.     At Britain’s Pinewood Studios  in 1965, director Terence Young told me of some ten superstars  due for his  UN-backed  exposé of the global drugs trade.  Two only  made the movie – but with 18 others, from Yul Brynner to Princess Grace.
  13. Maria Marlow, Die Nibelungen (Teil 1 – Siegfried  and Teil 2 Kriemhilds Rache, West Germany-Yugoslavia, 1966-1967.   Top Berlin producer Artur Brauner first envisaged the remake with Romy, Gert Fröbe and Barbara Rütting as Kriemhild,  Hagen and Brunhilde – finally portrayed in the two-parter by Maria, Siegfried Wischnewski, and Karin Dor.
  14. Jacqueline Sassard, Accident, 1967.      Joe Losey called again.  But she was pregnant.  She finally worked with Losey on The Assassination of Trotsky, 1972.
  15. Sylva Koscina, The Battle of Neretva, Yugoslavia-Italy-West Germany, US, 1967. Italy’s Yugoslav-born actress was top of President Tito’s list for the partisan Danica in his country’s most expensive movie – about his three month 1943 battle to rescue his country from Nazi occupation The film was never released in the UK.
  16. Olga Karlatos, Paulina 1880, France, 1971.     A trifle old  (at 34) for Paulina Pandolfini, 20-year-old heroine of the Pierre-Jean Jouve novel.
  17. Susannah York, X Y and Zee, 1972. Completing the Elizabeth Taylor-Michael Caine triangle was not easy.  Lee  Remick was also considered.
  18. Charlotte Rampling, Il portiere di notte/The Night Porter, Italy, 1974.     Refused point blank director Liliana Cavani’s  (perhaps thoughtless) invitation to a German actress to play a concentration camp victim who, years later,  meets and loves  her old SS captor.  But then she never had Dirk Bogarde instructing her, as he did the “scorching” Rampling: “It’s not about Nazi guilt. We must never forget that… It has to have the essence of a real love story, not just a sado-masochistic essay.” D’oh!
  19. Jeanne Moreau, The Last Tycoon, 1975.      Romy passed  Didi to Jeanne for Sam Spiegel’s version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel based on MGM  genius production chief, Irving  Thalberg.   
  20. Laura Antonelli, L’Innocente, Italy-France, 1976.    Alain Delon rejected his beloved Luchino Visconti…  “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 made do with Giancarlo Giannini and 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.

  21. Ornella Muti, La derniere femme, France-Italy, 1976.     Gérard Depardieu showed (brandished!) all but it never matched Marco Ferreri’s claim of being “the  first genuinely pornographic film.”
  22. Geneviève Bujold, Un autre homme, une autre chance/Another Man, Another Woman, France, 1977.   Show-off French helmer Claude Lelouch lost both  his dream wish: Romy and… Paul Newman.
  23. Jeanne Moreau, The Last Tycoon, 1977.   Pregnant.
  24. Hanna Schygulla, The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979.     She wanted to film in Germany again – and that meant director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. However,  the first version of the script hardly  pleased her.
  25. Brigitte Fossey, Un mauvais fils  (A Bad Son), France, 1980.     Romy and the supreme Claude Sautet  made five films together, including three of  his most  treasured classics (Les choses de la vie, Cèsar et Rosalie, Une histoire simple). Romy always declared he was  the realisateur who knew her best.  She was, thetrefore,  eager for a sixth encounter – with  the script by her husband, Daniel Biasini.  However, Sautet saw Catherine as  younger (whoops!) and not played by such a  Big Star (owch!). .“When I explained this, it  caused  a tension between us, a tension in me. Almost a rupture.”  There was never  time for that break to heal…
  26. Barbara Sukowa, Lola, West Germany, 1981.     Romy was unmoved by homeland offers when she quit Germany for France – and Alain Delon.  The first Tuetonic maestro for decades, Rainer Werner Fassbinder tried to change all that. But her son, David Meyen, 14, died in a freak accident in Neuilly. Romy was  never the same again – she made one more film and died  less than  a year later.
  27. Nicole Garcia, Les Mots pour le dire, France, 1983.     The timid French realisateur Andre Techiné lost interest in the book and the actress when she greeted him with: “You’re all thieves robbing the best of me!”
  28. Emmanuelle Beart, L’Enfer, France, 1993.     Her jealous  husband went from Burt Lancaster and Raf Vallone to quite the opposite end of virility with French chanteur Serge Reggiani when production began in July 1964 – cancelled when Reggiani and realisateur Henri-Georges Clouzot had fierce rows.  Result: Reggiani fell ill and Clouzot suffered a heart attack. Finally made by Claude Chabrol.  But L’Enfer was still hell. 


  (Clic to enlarge)  

* Romy Schneider as the victim of a jealous husband  in the  much plagued Paris production of L’Enfer in 1964.  Her co-star,  singer Serge Reggiani fell ill and  was about to be replaced  by Jean-Louis Trintignant when realisateur Henri-Georges Clouzot’s heart attack cancelled any more shooting.  (He  had already shot 15 hours  of the  film and of  tests. including footage  of himself as the husband. The  film was later made by Claude Chabrol in  1994. Badly.

[© Orsay/Lobster Films, 2007]



 Birth year: 1938Death year: 1982Other name: Casting Calls:  28