Tomas Milian

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Tomás Milián
Tomas Milian 1974 cropped.jpg
Tomás Milián in Squadra volante (1974)
Born Tomás Quintín Rodríguez
(1933-03-03) March 3, 1933 (age 81)
Havana, Cuba
Occupation Actor
Years active 1957–present
Spouse(s) Margherita Valetti (1964–present)

Tomás Milián (born March 3, 1933) is a Cuban-American actor, best known for having worked extensively in Italian films from the early 1960s to the late 1980s.

Biography[edit]

Tomás Milián was born in Havana as Tomás Quintín Rodríguez, the son of a Cuban general. His father was arrested and jailed after dictator Fulgencio Batista took power in Cuba: he later committed suicide. Milián then decided to leave Cuba and pursue his wishes of being an actor.[1] He settled in the United States to study at New York's Actors Studio[2] and later became an American citizen. Since 1969 he is an Italian citizen too.

Milián resides in Miami, Florida.

Career[edit]

After starting a career in the United States, he went to Italy in 1958 to take part to a theatre festival in Spoleto.[3] He eventually decided to relocate to Italy, where he lived for over 25 years, becoming a very successful performer.

His first film part in Italy was in the 1959 picture La notte brava. Although his voice was dubbed most of the time due to his slight accent, Milián performed his lines in Italian (or in English, depending on the film). He initially starred in arthouse movies and worked with directors such as Mauro Bolognini and Luchino Visconti.[1]

After five years of making what he deemed "intellectual" movies, Milián was unhappy with his contract with producer Franco Cristaldi and thought of going back to the United States. Needing money to start over, he took the opportunity to star as a bandit in a spaghetti western called The Bounty Killer. This movie gave his career an unexpected boost,[4] and ultimately resulted in his staying in Italy. Milián soon became a star of the spaghetti western genre,[5] where he often played Mexican bandits or revolutionaries, roles in which he spoke in his real voice. As the spaghetti westerns dwindled, Milián remained a star in many genre films, playing both villains and heroes in various polizieschi movies. He starred with Barbara Bouchet in the giallo Non si sevizia un paperino.

He later turned to comedy, playing the recurrent characters of petty thief Monnezza and Serpico-like police officer Nico Giraldi in a variety of crime-comedy pictures. Although his voice was dubbed most of the time by Ferruccio Amendola, Milián wrote his own lines in Roman slang. Milián's inventive use of romanesco (Roman dialect) made him somewhat of a cult performer in Italy. Bruno Corbucci, the director of many of these films commented, "At the cinemas as soon as Tomás Milián appeared on the screen, when he made a wisecrack and in the heaviest situations, then it was a pandemonium, it was like being at the stadium." As Milián used similar makeups and accents in portraying both characters, Monnezza and Nico were occasionally confused by Italian audiences, who sometimes referred erroneously to them both as Monnezza, or Er Monnezza (Da trash in slang), and still closely associate Milián with these performances.[6]

Milián also appeared in non-genre pictures, such as Bernardo Bertolucci's La Luna, for which he won a Nastro d'Argento for Best supporting Actor, and Michelangelo Antonioni's Identification of a Woman.

As he grew older, Milián decided to go back to the United States. He appeared in Sidney Pollack's Havana, Steven Spielberg's Amistad, Steven Soderbergh's Traffic as well as Andy García's The Lost City, about Revolutionary Cuba. He has also played many roles on stage.

In 2005, he portrayed Generalisimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina in the film version of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel The Feast of the Goat.

Partial filmography[edit]

Milian plays Alberto De Matteis in I Delfini (1960)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tomas Milian biography at Virgilio.it (Italian)
  2. ^ Tomas Milian ancora sbirro. Per fiction, Corriere della sera, December 29, 2009 (Italian)
  3. ^ Tomas Milian biography (Italian)
  4. ^ Tomás Milián interview (Italian)
  5. ^ Tomas Milian orgullo de los cubanos en Miami (Spanish)
  6. ^ «Er Monnezza» finisce sulla Treccani, Corriere della Sera, October 6, 2004 (Italian)

Further reading[edit]

  • Giorgio Navarro, Fabio Zanello, Tomas Milian. Er cubbano de Roma, Molino, 1999. ISBN 8890035935.
  • Max Serio, Tomas Milian: The Tough Bandit, the Rough Cop and the Filthy Rat in Italian Cinema, Mediane, 2009. ISBN 8896042127.
  • Gordiano Lupi, Tomas Milian, il trucido e lo sbirro, Profondo Rosso Editore, 2011. ISBN 8889084502.

External links[edit]