Franco Nero


  1. Terence Hill, Dio perdona… io no  (US: Blood River and God Forgives… I Don’t), Italy,  1967.    Hill’s (literal) break came when  Peter Martell (aka Pietro Martellanza, and the Spaghetti Western hero, Ringo) was  in yet another fight  with his lover, tried to kick her, missed, and  struck a wall with such force he broke big leg.  Director Giuseppe Colizzi chose Hill due to his likeness to Nero, who couldn’t get away from Camelot for the spaghetti Western  And so, the Bud Spencer-Terence Hill team (aka Carlo Pedersoli and Mario Girotti) was born (instead of Spencer-Martell).  The duo’s next 17 films  were more comedic and less brutal than this one.
  2. Jean-Louis Trintignant, Il Grande Silenzio (US: The Great Silence),Italy-France,1968.Until they quarrelled, director Sergio Corbucci wanted Nero for the spaghetti lead. Trintignant claimed it was his idea for the hero to be silent – “too much talking in Italian Westerns.” 
  3. Tony Musante, A Professional Gun, Italy-Spain, 1968.    When Sergio Corbucci (the other great spaghetti Western Sergio) took over Gillo Pontecorvo’s tortilla Western, he first wanted grey-eyed Nero as Paco, the Mexican… before seeing sense and making him The Polak. Corbucci was less delighted with Musante, a Method disciple and very much an American Gian Maria Volonte… as in over the top!! Corbucci kept Nero and Jack Palance but replaced Musante with Tomas Milian in his1970 re-make, Compañeros.
  4. Tony Musante, Metti, una sera a cena (One Night At Dinner), Italy, 1969.  When neither Nero or Gian Maria Volonte were free for  director Giuseppe Patroni-Griffi’s kinky drama, Nero recommended the Italian-American Musante – they’d recently completed Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti Western take on the Mexican Revolution movie, Il mercenario (US: The Mercenary).
  5. Al Liettieri, The Godfather,  1971.
  6. Bud Spencer, Lo chiamavano Trinità (USA: They Call Me Trinity), Italy, 1970.    Nero was forever being offered the Trinity gig by the writer who was then Sergio Corbucci’s cameraman on Django. “He always had the script with him, always talking about Trinity here, Trinity there. But I was going to Hollywood to make Camelot.” When it became his second directing gig, EB Clucher wanted to team Peter Martell and George Eastman, instead it became the fourth Bud Spencer-Terence Hill oater and the #1 film in Italy that year. Just as Martell and Eastman were born Pietro Martellanza and Luigi Montefiori, Spencer and Hill were really Carlo Pedersoli and Mario Girotti, and their usual director, EB Clucher, was Enzo Barboni. Oh, and Nero, born Francesco Sparanero, said Hill resembled him so much “people thought I’d changed my name!”
  7. James Garner, Victor Victoria, 1981.   Miss one rôle and other is sure to come along… Not always. But it worked swell for Nero. When director Blake Edwards turned him down for his woman-in-male-drag-impersonating-a-woman comedy, the Italian star ran into an LA producer buddy, Judd Bernard. Hence, enter Nero the hero in Enter The Ninja that year.
  8. Rutger Hauer, The Rite, US-Hungary-Italy, 2010.   Change of Istvan Kovak in the latest excorsim number. For which Swedish director Mikael Håfström actually attended some exorcising –  but outside the room, behind the closed door. Enough for  critic Roger Ebert to say: “This is I suspect a more realistic film than The Exorcist, although not its equal.”

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  8