Ornella Muti: “After the first film I wanted to retire”

The actress in an interview with Adnkronos: “I was a child in a man’s world”

Francesca Romana Rivelli aka Ornella Muti, ‘The most beautiful wife’ in Italy at just 14 years old, an icon of timeless beauty and sensuality, talks about herself today in an interview with Adnkronos, starting from her debut, when the director Damiano Damiani assigned her the role that was inspired by the story of Franca Viola, from Alcamo, who in Sicily in 1965, at just seventeen, was the first Italian woman to refuse the shotgun wedding. Not a simple debut, Muti underlines: ”I was a little girl not yet a woman, in a world of men. It was a world I wasn’t used to, even quite violent to the point that my mother rebelled. Damiani was very harsh with me, they said terrible things to me and if I protested they told me: ‘You should be happy to make a film’. Things once were very different from today”.

This first experience on set was very traumatic to the point that, she reveals, ”I didn’t want to act anymore: I did an audition and I was so scared that I didn’t pass. Then when I got together with Alessio Orano (her first husband, ed.) a friend of ours said to me: ‘Come on, let’s make a film in Ponza and Palmarola (‘The sun on the skin’, ed.) and I accepted because it was between friends and I was very reassuring. Thanks to this film I got closer to cinema again”. In ’74 the meeting with Mario Monicelli and the success in ‘Popular Romance’ alongside Ugo Tognazzi: ”I arrived on the set and told Mario that I was expecting a child and asked to replace me – recalls Muti – but he told me: ‘No, absolutely no'”.

“I have great admiration and great affection for Ugo Tognazzi because he was a wonderful person – continues the actress – at the time everyone told me that I was crazy, that if I had kept the child I would have ruined my career. Luckily I chose not to terminate the pregnancy, I had a life inside me and I couldn’t pay because of my mistakes”. But is it true that all the actors tried with her? ”Many did – she admits – there were people who courted me in an unpleasant way without understanding that it wasn’t the case, I was very naive and perhaps being very companionable I fueled false hopes”.

And how did it go with Tognazzi? ”Ugo you’ve never tried with me,” Muti underlines. And Alain Delon? ”He pampered me and made me feel like a mini queen, I don’t think he tried. In reality I have never felt so beautiful – she continues – I always found a thousand flaws in myself, today looking back I say to myself: ‘how stupid I was”.

And Francesco Nuti? ”When he died I felt immense pain. He was a talented, sensitive boy, a poet, he had this ironic, sad and sweet face, he was a wonderful person,” she recalls, moved. Muti, who has worked with many directors, speaks fondly of Virzi’: “He’s a wonderful person, a very nice man, I did a small role with him and I had a great time. Marco Ferreri, Ettore Scola, Dino Risi and Mario Monicelli taught me everything, they gave me the career I have”, admits Muti.

Would you agree to pose naked again today? ”No – Muti replies – I have a very difficult relationship with nudes. I have never loved being naked so much, in my normal life I have no problems undressing but In the cinema I didn’t really like showing myself naked so at the time I asked for many scenes to be checked. That was the period when nudity was so popular and I felt embarrassed in films in which I appeared naked,” she confesses.

Have you ever regretted the choices you made in life and especially for love? ”I have no regrets – says the actress – if you are inexperienced or have emotional deficiencies, you often make films but then realize that you should have run away much earlier. I don’t deny anything, it was my path, it was me in my fragility, the important thing is to learn from negative experiences that must serve as a lesson, it is part of our evolution. Life gives us lessons to evolve, it’s only up to us to understand it”. ”I have been single for many years – adds Muti – I had a moment in which I thought that perhaps there was someone I liked in another country but it would have been a story that would have made me feel bad. Today it is difficult for me to see myself next to a man – he admits – I should find a man like me, who thinks like me and the older we get, the more demanding we become”.

What memories do you have of your own? experience at the Sanremo Festival? ”I felt lost – she reveals – I expected to be accompanied a little more especially when I see that the following year millions of tests were done for Chiara Ferragni. I arrived at the Festival, I did a check, they told me ‘you have to do this’ and that was it. I found it unfair. I was little followed, little guided and little accompanied – reiterates Muti – but never mind, it went well, I was clean as I always am and the public appreciated it”. How did you find Amadeus? ”I don’t know how I found it – she says ironically – I saw him for a second, I think he could have given me an extra hand, he was the host, I was a guest. I think he is a very good artistic director, for the rest I don’t know, I don’t know him”.

The actress explains that she has never loved worldliness. Today she lives in the countryside together with her eldest daughter Naike and her animals: ”I chose to live in a quiet and serene place together with my daughter who I strongly wanted, I have respect for life, I could not for any reason lose that creature who loved me had been donated. I have three children who I love very much and who are very close to each other, I would never change my life”. ”With Naike we fight for many common ideals – explains Muti – for example I fight for alternative treatments, I started to I have been using homeopathic medicines since I was 14. At the first alarm, in fact, I call my homeopathic doctor who is in Naples and who is a myth, then if I need to use a medicine I use it but I wait for my doctor to prescribe it for me.’ ‘.

On the battle he has been waging for years with Naike to legalize Cannabis for therapeutic purposes he explains: ”It cures various diseases but in Italy people prefer medicines that you pay four times as much. There are probably strong pharmaceutical interests, therefore cannabis is demonized in Italy. To be curative – he specifies – cannabis must be prescribed by a doctor and to take it you must have a prescription and go to the pharmacy. Cannabis for recreational purposes, however, is something else and in Italy there is still a lot of confusion”.

Muti is also much loved on social media, where together with Naike she carries out her battles: ”My daughter and I want to make vegan bags (artisanal and animal free, ed.) but there is an ideology behind it – she underlines – I I’m honest with myself, I do things because I believe in them”. And what do you think about influencers? ”These are people who sell stuff, who show something to make money and therefore only for profit”. Future projects? ”I had an offer in the United States but due to the actors’ strike everything is at a standstill – reveals the actress – in Spain they called me with another proposal but I haven’t decided yet, I certainly have a big theater project in Italy”. And of her reciprocated love for Russia (her mother is Estonian and her grandmother Russian), she says: ”I had several contracts there too, then there was the pandemic and now the war and they’ve been postponing them for three years now . I don’t think a people should be punished for just one person. I have my own production company – recalls Muti – but not only for films, I started making small commercials for eco-sustainable companies and now we have entered into the production of the film ‘The Undecided Groom’ by Giorgio Amato which will go on Netflix where I play the role of Ilenia Pastorelli’s mother. But it’s just the beginning of many other things. There are some beautiful stories I want to tell”.

What do you think of Italian cinema today? ”It’s no longer so strong in theaters – he says – only great American films are good otherwise they’ll go to the platforms. The French are much more capable of this, they have always protected themselves from America and have kept French cinema high. Television bombards us with films and TV series, the young idol actors are no longer there, there is too much confusion – he continues -. In America you study a lot to be an actor, they really prepare. Before the directors were in charge and you had to do what they said, now you have to go with your own strong baggage and therefore every actor has the duty to prepare given that a film can be made in up to four weeks”, concludes Muti.

(by Alisa Toaff)