Cinema X Talks to Edwige Fenech
Interview by Luigi Cozzi
This interview was first published in Cinema X (Vol.3 number 3) circa 1970 and re-printed in Cinema X ‘Super-X Special’ No. 4. It is reproduced here as published.
It’s not everyone’s luck to be born on Christmas Eve. But it happened to actress Edwige Fenech. The date which appears on her passport is December 24 th , 1948, and that makes her twenty-two years of age.
Twenty-two gorgeous years, may I add. Edwige Fenech is tall and slender, moves with grace and elegance and exudes class and culture to a remarkable degree. She lives in Rome , where a short time ago she moved.
“It was a talent scout who invited me to Rome ”, Edwige Fenech tells me, speaking Italian easily and correctly in a sweet, melodious French accent. “I took part in a Miss Universe contest as the representative from France and attracted some attention. I was asked to come to Italy to live and try to get somewhere in movies, and I accepted. At this point I’m very happy I came”
Luigi Cozzi: “But hadn’t you already done some work in the French cinema?”
Edwige Fenech: “No. I had just had a few jobs as a photographer’s model and had also done some bits in the theatre. The theatre has always been my passion, and I hoped to be successful at it one day. But the cinema came along instead, and I ended up here… I’m happy about it, however, because a whole new world has opened up to me – much vaster than the theatre. After all, that’s what films are all about, isn’t it?
LC: “Have you been in Italy long?”
EF: “Three years. It’s a very beautiful country – in fact, I would say that Rome is the most beautiful city in the world”
LC: “Where is your family from?”
EF: “I come from Nice, just like my parents. I often go there to visit them, but when I can’t get away, my mother comes down to see me. Mama is often here in Rome with me. She helps me, keeps me company and has a good time, because Rome is a wonderful city”
LC: “What do your parents think of the career you have chosen to follow? You have made ‘For Adults Only’ type pictures for the most part. Wearing just the bear essentials”
EF: “They are happy at the present time and satisfied with what I have been able to do. They know it has been a hard, uphill road for me, and what success I have had has been gotten the hard way. You know, acting with almost all your clothes off doesn’t shorten the road to the top. All actresses take their clothes off nowadays, but only a few get there and stay there. I feel I have arrived, and my mother is very happy about it”
LC: “But don’t you feel embarrassed about getting undressed on the set?”
EF: “Oh, it’s terrible. Especially the first times on the early films… I didn’t know how to behave and I was frightfully ashamed. Then I resigned myself to it, rather I got used to it… after all these are things you have to do in the movies whether you like it or not. The public demands it. Certainly it’s never pleasant to disrobe in front of so many technicians and fellow actors. I always have the feeling, when I get dressed again, that they are still looking at me as if I had nothing on. And I don’t even want to talk about what happens in the theatres where they show my pictures… I went to see MADAME BOVARY again in a first run film theatre, and I turned as red as a beet when I saw myself naked on the screen. Meanwhile the audience began to get noisy and exchange unprintable remarks”
LC: “However, this always happens, in all movies, whenever an actress undresses. Italians as an audience are warm and expressive”
EF: “Yes, but it’s not always like that. That picture (MADAME BOVARY) really upset me, but when I saw the scene with the nude buttocks in SOLDIER BLUE, I noticed that the public remained perfectly calm, wasn’t noisy and made no remarks”
LC: “Well, excuse me, but that’s not a very appropriate example. Candice Bergen didn’t have much to do, erotically speaking, in that scene… if that pair of buttocks was really hers. It was a touch of humour more than anything else, with the wagon jolting along and the couple plastered together like slices of salami… in 500 MILLION HIT ON THE NATIONAL BANK, Ursula Andress is nude from beginning to end, but everything is done with such grace and finesse that the picture has not even been prohibited for minors of fourteen years of age. MADAME BOVARY is, on the other hand, more obvious, laying the emphasis on physical eroticism. When the leading lady emerges topless, I think the explosion on the part of the audience is quite understandable”
“Perhaps”, agrees Edwige Fenech with an embarrassed smile. Just talking about this scene makes her blush spontaneously. “I realise it’s not a good film, but I also know that doing the role helped me a great deal in that it introduced me to the public by exploiting what I had to offer physically. All in all, I owe a lot of my present success to it”
LC: “Will you continue to accept these sex-kitten roles?”
EF: “If possible, no. At least, if the sex sequences are motivated and justified by the demands of the plot and aesthetic considerations, then I would say yes. But I shall say no absolutely to a picture which presents sex for sex’s sake with no other justifications”
LC: “How many pictures have you made so far?”
EF: “Eighteen I believe. Yes, I’m not very satisfied with them, but I must admit they have all been important for getting me before the public and catapulting me up to where I am now. Now I am preparing myself to enter the second stage of my career, and I really would like to make a success with my talent and acting gifts rather than just with my beauty. I’m counting a great deal on a film I’ve just finished making, THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARD, directed by Sergio Martino on the scenario of a thriller by Ernest Gastaldi. I adore suspense films and think this one in particular is very beautiful, full of chills and special effects.
LC: “What films are your favourites?”
EF: “SOLDIER BLUE, CROMWELL and THEY SHOOT HORSES DON’T THEY? Are the first ones which come to my mind. I adore Richard Harris as an actor as well as a man. I think he’s great, magnificent – he makes me dream with my eyes open”
LC: “Leaving the cinema aside for a moment, what are your preferences in life?”
EF: “I lead a tranquil, sheltered life. I have a few friends – boys who go to university – solid citizens. I like music too and almost always listen to pop records – Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding. However, when I’m alone and sad, I prefer to listen to classical music: it’s more relaxing”
LC: “Do you live alone?”
EF: “I live in an apartment… which I must change, because I’m alone when my mother’s not here. Do you know that thieves have tried to break in here twice? Now I’m looking for a new apartment in a safer area. It’s the only thing to do, don’t you think?”