Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, the true love story

Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, the true love story
Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, the true love story

The actress and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni will attend the screening of their film this Tuesday, May 21 Marcello Mio at the Cannes Film Festival. The opportunity to return to the dolce story between Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, in the mid-1970s.

“He had incredible charm,” she declared on the set of “Quotidien” on Wednesday, May 15. On display in Marcello Mio, by Christophe Honoré, which she will present this Tuesday, May 21 during the 77th Cannes Film Festival, Catherine Deneuve thus mentioned Marcello Mastroianni, with whom she had a four-year romance and welcomed her daughter Chiara. For the purposes of the feature film, the latter slips into the shoes of her father, who died on December 19, 1996 of pancreatic cancer. Facing Yann Barthès, Catherine Deneuve remembered her former companion as a “brilliant, shy and very funny” man. Chiara Mastroianni, for her part, praised her father’s “great humility” and his “curiosity for others”.

A dinner

Between the two legends of the seventh art, the story begins in the fall of 1970, during a dinner in London organized by Roman Polanski. Among the guests: Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. The actor, with freshly shaved hair for the needs of a film, sows confusion. So much so that the heroine of Donkey Skin (1970) does not recognize this right away. But between them, the current passes. The meal is “pleasant, even joyful”, will relate Catherine Deneuve in the Illustrated evening. The following summer, the two actors became closer during the filming of Lisa (1972), by Marco Ferreri. On a series of photographs revealed by Paris Match they appear accomplices on the island of Cavallo, located between Corsica and Sardinia.

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Catherine Deneuve, blonde as wheat and in an immaculate suit, looks intensely at her playing partner, dressed all in jeans. “It was their common desire not to leave each other that made them the star couple of the film,” we can read in Paris Match, October 9, 1971. Mastroianni plays a sort of modern Robinson who has chosen to live on a desert island with his dog. A beautiful young woman, dressed in white, comes to disturb his solitude. “It’s a romantic story,” she said. It shows that in the middle of the 20th century we can still die of love.” And already, we detect the beginnings of an idyll.

“The film finished, Marcello remained in my life”

One is in the middle of a divorce from photographer David Bailey. The second is married to Flora Carabella, an Italian actress he met when he played in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, in 1950. The couple separated in 1970, but never divorced, due to the actor’s Catholic culture. Despite this context not conducive to romance, Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni gradually fall under the spell of each other. The actress even slips the name of her suitor into Nadine Trintignant’s ear. He will play her husband in It only happens to othersin 1971. “The film finished, Marcello remained in my life,” confides Catherine Deneuve in The Illustrated Evening.

A year later, the couple welcomed their daughter Chiara. This is the second child of Marcello, who is already the father of Barbara, from his marriage to Flora Carabella, in 1951. In all, Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni will star in five films. We also see them on each other’s arms during the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. But soon, their romance comes up against a major obstacle: the marriage of Marcello Mastroianni, which he does not wish to break. Two years after Chiara’s birth, Catherine Deneuve and her partner separated. “Our life together ended in failure and… I don’t like failures,” the actress said at the time. Not having the same education, the same roots, the same language, yes, so many pitfalls…”

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“The best friends in the world”

However, the two actors remain on good terms, and continue to raise their daughter together. Except for a few clashes. In 2020, Chiara Mastroianni notably remembered, in the columns of the magazine She, of a titanic argument. A conflict that arose between her parents when she was 10 years old. They were then at the cinema to see the film AND (1982). “At the beginning, when ET is chased in the woods, I obviously burst into tears, and my parents start to worry,” says Chiara Mastroianni. My father says we can’t stay: “She’s too bad”; my mother says the opposite: “We’re holding on!” We stayed. He couldn’t stand seeing me in this state of absolute sadness. While she was convinced: it’s normal to cry at the cinema.”

A decade later, Chiara Mastroianni expressed the wish to become an actress herself. And is exposed, once again, to mixed reactions. On the one hand, his mother “panics”. Catherine Deneuve would have preferred that she become an “archaeologist”. On the other, his father explodes with joy. “When I told him, he organized a party,” Chiara Mastroianni confided to Guardian , in April 2012. It was like we were running a family restaurant, and I had said I was taking over the business.” Despite these disagreements, Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni remained close until the latter’s death. A year before his death, he praised the “charm” of his former partner in the columns of Gala. “We remained the best friends in the world,” he added. The former couple also appeared together at the César ceremony in 1993. The actress, for her part, never stopped praising the “simplicity”, “mischief” and “generosity” of her ex-partner .

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