Fellini and Wardal
Video excerpt from Wardal’s interview with Fellini
There is a parallel between this interview by Count Federico of Wardal, Fellini’s muse for Fellini 100, and the movie Interview by Federico Fellini that tells us about Rome’s Cinecitta Studios celebrating its 50th anniversary. In the movie, a Japanese television crew arrives to interview director Federico Fellini (played by himself), who is preparing to shoot an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel Amerika. Federico Wardal is presenting his new movie Federico and Fellini telling his story with Fellini for Fellini 100. It is like a timeless interview which reflects Fellini’s poetics.
What would you wish for your mentor Fellini for his one hundredth birthday?
W: Every day I think about him, so every instant for me is like his birthday.
Q-He was born on Jan 20th and you on Jan 24th , correct ?
W: I am an Aquarius and when I asked him, as a joke : ‘Are you an Aquarius too?’, he said : “No, I am a Capricorn, but we are at the “border “ of the two signs “ . That told me that we have many things in common.
Q-Fellini was very involved in esotericism and you believe you have the power to tell the future. What did you say to Fellini about his future?
W: always I avoided any esoteric topics with him.
Q- Why ?
W: Adding the esoteric ingredient between Fellini and I would have changed our relationship.
He was hungry for esotericism which in our relationship would have obscured fundamental aspects of how we related to each other.
He had his private magicians and I knew them and we had two twin magicians in common too….lol!
W: oh, you are so curious!
Q-Wardal, this is a public interview for a magazine…not a private conversation..
W: lol! Ok , they were the twins Laura and Lia Levi- Strauss.
Q- A very important Jewish family! What kind of relationship did you have with Fellini?
W : Creative, extremely stimulating, a soulmate relationship. .
Q- Feelings? Sensations?
W: Soul to soul.
Q-Platonic. He was deeply attached to his wife Giulietta Masina.
Space for other relationships? What kind of space did Fellini have for his relationship with you?
W: Dear, a lot of space. A soul is beyond one sort of space.
Q-When you met him for the first time, he was 55 years old and you were a teenager…
W: yes, but again : the soul has no “ space “ and no age, lol ! Anyway,
he needed young people to regenerate his creative inspirations.
Q-How did you meet him? Common friends ?
W: We had common friends, the Levi-Strauss twins, but I met Fellini just by a coincidence. An actress told me to rush to talk with him, because, she said, I could strongly inspire him.
Q-Where was your first meeting with Fellini? And when?
W : On April 1975, at Cinecittà, on the office upstairs of theatre 5. Some people quite famous were waiting to see him, but as soon as I arrived, I got to go straight up to him, since Norma Giacchero, who was Fellini’s edition assistant and Maurizio Mein, who was Fellini’s direction assistant, immediately opened for me the two doors that separated me from him.
Q-Then what happened?
W: a strong impact through our eyes , an atomic explosion ….
Q- On both sides?
W: yes. We both tried to hide it.
W: because…that meeting between Fellini and I was about my role in the movie Casanova and not to talk about something else deep and out of that context.
Q- But to talk about a character who belongs to a Fellini movie with Fellini, is already “ something deep “ .
W-Yes, Fellini is an ocean and we were just on a sea…lol!
W- then he started to explain my role to me.
We remained, gazing eyes into eyes, for about twenty minutes.
Q- Big language! And so, what about your role ?
W: The young Casanova . Casanova as an adolescent.
Q-An important role. Which kind of criteria did Fellini use to give you such an important role? You were just an adolescent .
W: Age doesn’t matter to a genius. There was Fellini’s intuition….and afterwards, the “ atomic impact “…I will tell you later…
Q- Because it is a surprise?
W- Ok, I will tell you now.
Q-Let’s do it.
W: After Fellini met me personally, after the “atomic impact,” his curiosity about me grew moment by moment.
Q- And so ?
W: He confessed to me that I was confirming my rightness for the role he had envisioned for me, he wanted something more from me, something extraordinary, amazing …
Q- What exactly?
W: The role he had thought for me was an adolescent Casanova prone to sexual vices, dissatisfied, sad, since Fellini-Casanova saw himself being alone in his future. Fellini told me that he would write some extra lines for me and while he spoke, he started to write down those lines for me.
Q-Do you remember the lines? Sorry, I know 45 years have passed since then, maybe you forgot them.
W: No, it’s impossible to forget something like that. Every word he wrote is engraved in my life.
Q- So please, go ahead .
W : … “I know that my life …. will be an immense dream made by travels,
face powder (he is touching his face) , sex, masks and fogs …and mirrors that are lying to themselves….
impossible desires, elusive loves … and I know that one day all will vanish
as if nothing never happened.
He said that maybe I could recite this, immersed in the fog of Venice, in a night of total silence. I quickly took what Fellini had written and I started to recite it.
and when I finished, Fellini ….
Q-Yes, what happened?
W: it happened that Fellini took my hand and kissed it, while Maurizio Main, his first assistant, entered the office. Fellini told Maurizio that he had not finished with me..
Q- An unthinkable honor for you.
W: Sure. Tears invaded my eyes, but I immediately stopped them.
Q- But had you acted before meeting Fellini?
W: Yes . Although I was a teenager, I had a lot of experience acting in front of large audiences.
Q- Amazing. Surely Fellini asked you with whom you had acted.
W: No, Fellini was curious about other kinds of things. In this case, Fellini was interested in the result, not in how the result had been achieved. I told him that I was acting in a theater in Rome with an actress that he surely knew. That actress was a friend of Flora Carabella, Marcello Mastroianni’s first wife.
Q-What is the name of the actress?
W: Maria Teresa Albani, actress, director, playwright, intellectual. She had
attended the Silvio d’Amico National Drama Academy of Rome with Marcello Mastroianni.
Q- Mastroianni would have been a perfect Casanova. Why did Fellini choose Donald Sutherland?
W: Mastroianni had already played the role of Casanova in the film Casanova 70.
Fellini wanted a grotesque character, tall in stature, spectacular, with a strong face and languid eyes. Although Fellini totally modified Sutherland’s face with strong makeup, Sutherland is very tall, his face has strong features with light eyes…
Q- What about you?
W : I’m the opposite, totally natural.
Q- It means that over the years Casanova became a caricature of himself in Fellini’s mind.
W : Yes
Q-What’s the similarity between you and Casanova?
W : I am Casanova.
W: Not because I have Venetian heritage through my father, not because I am aristocratic as Casanova was, not because I am a magician as Casanova was, not because I am an alchemist as Casanova was, not because for me make up is more important than history as it was for Casanova, not because I am sad over love as Casanova was – and I can continue without end…
Q- But Fellini liked to play with the truth…
W: Fellini invented a role for me, based on me.
Q-May be he invented the real Casanova whom he really wanted?
W: For another movie! Casanova-Sutherland-Fellini, this was the movie he made. A great unforgettable Fellini movie.
Q: Above and beyond this, there is the Fellini’s connection with Mastroianni.
Help me to understand it.
W: You already asked me this question and I already gave you my answer.
Although Mastroianni and Fellini had a destiny together, Mastroianni didn’t fit into Casanova by Federico Fellini.
Q- Many years later, Mastroianni refused to do the last Fellini movie The Mastorna’s Voyage. Why?
W: The energy of their artistic relationship was over.
Q: You are preparing the short movie “Federico and Fellini” for Fellini 100. Is this film the continuation of “Casanova”?
W: There is a secret about that.
Q- Welcome secrets revealed!
W: In that movie I talk with a ghost of Fellini who comes back from his death.
Q: To close the circle? Did you talk with Fellini about that idea at that time?
W : Yes, I did.
Q- He agreed about this idea?
W: Which idea ?
Q-To do Casanova’s sequel.
W: Well….In a few words….Casanova as an adolescent and Fellini as an adolescent transformed into themselves because life works in an amazing way. Maybe the wish of Fellini was to be what I was. Then life transformed me in an amazing way. So, Fellini was right.
Q- So, because of this, your movie could be the Casanova sequel ?
W: To tell the truth, Fellini’s intention was to shoot a sequel to Casanova, but after shooting The Mastorna’s Voyage.
Q: So your movie can’t be the sequel to Casanova because Fellini never shot that movie.
W: I will explain it later.
Artistic rendering of Federico Wardal
Count Wardal and his favorite mask