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Richard Harrison

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Richard Harrison (page 3)


During the 70's, you have acted in some extremely hard and violent " cop " movies, such as Sergio Grieco's The Mad Dog Killer a.k.a. The Beast With a Gun (La Belva Col Mitra, 1977) with Helmut Berger and Marisa Mell. What kind of look do you take at these pictures which were most of the time harshly criticized for their crude violence ? Do you know that Tarantino was such a fan of this movie that he slipped an excerpt on a television watched by Bridget Fonda in Jacky Brown ?

It wasn't very often that I liked the scripts that were offered me, but Sergio Grieco was a very nice person and I looked forward to doing the film. Helmut and I got along very well until Marisa arrived, then she got him back on drugs. I have little patience for people who take drugs, and worse, Helmut went completely out of control. He hit another actor during a scene and put him in the hospital, then the next day we had a big fight at the end of the film where he had a knife. He arrived one hour late completely drugged. The knife was real, so it was very important not to make a mistake. Twice he almost stuck it in my face. I was so mad I told him the next time I would hit him so hard he wouldn't have a face left. He started screaming like a baby. We ended up using stunt doubles. Later, Helmut apologized to me, saying he couldn't act unless he took drugs. I felt sorry for him. A German actor told me recently that Helmut stopped taking drugs and was married. I hope that is true. Someone sent me recently a piece written by a critic criticising me for not being more forceful, but since Helmut played his part like a lunatic I decided to play it more calmly. Anyone who has acted would know it is much easier to rant and rave than to play something calmly. I am very much against unnecessary violence and four letter words in films, unless it really pertains to the story.It wasn't very often that I liked the scripts that were offered me, but Sergio Grieco was a very nice person and I looked forward to doing the film. Helmut and I got along very well until Marisa arrived, then she got him back on drugs. I have little patience for people who take drugs, and worse, Helmut went completely out of control. He hit another actor during a scene and put him in the hospital, then the next day we had a big fight at the end of the film where he had a knife. He arrived one hour late completely drugged. The knife was real, so it was very important not to make a mistake. Twice he almost stuck it in my face. I was so mad I told him the next time I would hit him so hard he wouldn't have a face left. He started screaming like a baby. We ended up using stunt doubles. Later, Helmut apologized to me, saying he couldn't act unless he took drugs. I felt sorry for him. A German actor told me recently that Helmut stopped taking drugs and was married. I hope that is true. Someone sent me recently a piece written by a critic criticising me for not being more forceful, but since Helmut played his part like a lunatic I decided to play it more calmly. Anyone who has acted would know it is much easier to rant and rave than to play something calmly. I am very much against unnecessary violence and four letter words in films, unless it really pertains to the story.


"Helmut and I got along very well until Marisa arrived, then she got him back on drugs."

Some consider Secret Agent Fireball (Le Spie Uccidono a Beirut, 1965) as your best film ever. Would you agree with that ? Was the part of "Agent Bob Fleming 077" important in making you a cult actor ?

I enjoyed doing this time of modern film. Most of the films made during this time in Italy were made so cheap that it really hurt the film. Even though this and some of the other films I did were not big budget, the producer was smart enough to put some money where it was needed. I never played the Actor thing. And I never thought about being a cult actor, if that is what I am. I will admit that sometimes I would start a film and find it so bad that I just walked through the part


"I will admit that sometimes I would start a film and find it so bad that I just walked through the part"

Did starring in films like Avenger of the Seven Seas (Il Giustiziere dei Mari, 1961) or Three Sergeants of Bengal (I Tre Sergenti del Bengala, 1965) gave you the feeling to actually compete with Hollywood greats, living or dead, like Errol Flynn or Gary Cooper ? Do you think fantasy and imagination were sufficient assets, for Italian films, to make up for the lack of means ? What is your opinion about the evolution of B-movies in nowadays film industry ?

I enjoyed the career I had as an actor most of the time, travelling and meeting interesting people, and the opportunity to always have nice homes. I never thought of myself in the category of the actors you mentioned, and when many of the countries put me into this group I was very embarrassed. I never wanted to be anyone else ; I have always wanted to improve myself as a person. It actually irritated me when people would try to make a fuss over me.


"I never wanted to be anyone else"

Strangely, you are relatively unseen in the horror and fantasy releases of the time : was it a deliberate choice ?

I wanted to be in French and Italian films etc. that told about real life. It never happened


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