Fernando Rey PictureFernando Casado Arambillet (20 September 1917 – 9 March 1994), best known as Fernando Rey, was a Spanish film, theatre, and television actor, who worked in both Europe and the United States. A suave, international actor best known for his roles in the films of surrealist director Luis Buñuel (Tristana, 1970; Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972; That Obscure Object of Desire, 1977) and as a drug lord in The French Connection (1971), he appeared in more than 150 films over half a century.
The debonair Rey was described by French Connection producer Philip D’Antoni as “the last of the Continental guys”. He achieved his greatest fame after he turned 50: “Perhaps it is a pity that my success came so late in life”, he told the Los Angeles Times. “It might have been better to have been successful while young, like El Cordobés in the bullring. Then your life is all before you to enjoy it.
Selected filmography
 
Fazendo Fitas (1935)
 
Nuestra Natacha (1936)
 
Los cuatro robinsones (1939)
 
Leyenda rota (1940) as Extra (uncredited)
 
El rey que rabió (1940) as Extra (uncredited)
 
La Dolores (1940) as Extra (uncredited)
 
La gitanilla (1940) as Extra (uncredited)
 
¡A mí no me mire usted! (1941) as Viajero (uncredited)
 
Escuadrilla (1941) as Extra (uncredited)
 
Eugenia de Montijo (1944) as Duque de Alba
 
Thirsty Land (1945)
 
Last Stand in the Philippines (1945) as Juan Chamizo
 
Estaba escrito (1945)
 
White Mission (1946) as Carlos
 
The Prodigal Woman (1946) as José
 
Don Quixote (1947) as Sansón Carrasco
 
The Holy Queen (1947) as Infante Alfonso
 
The Princess of the Ursines (1947) as Felipe V
 
Fuenteovejuna (1947) as Frondoso
 
La próxima vez que vivamos (1948) as Óscar Mulden
 
Madness for Love (1948) as Felipe el Hermoso
 
Mare Nostrum (1948) as Ulises / Capitán Ferragut
 
Si te hubieses casado conmigo (1948) as Enrique Marín
 
Sabela de Cambados (1949) as Narrator (voice, uncredited)
 
Noche de Reyes (1949)
 
Aventuras de Juan Lucas (1949) as Juan Lucas
 
Agustina of Aragon (1950) as General Palafox / Lorenzo, el pastor
 
Black Sky (1951) as Ángel López Veiga
 
La trinca del aire (1951) (voice)
 
Our Lady of Fatima (1951) as Lorenzo Duarte
 
Devil’s Roundup (1952) as Atracador
 
La laguna negra (1952) as Miguel
 
Les amants de Tolède (1953) (voice)
 
Cabaret (1953) as Carlos Jiménez
 
Welcome Mr. Marshall! (1953) as Narrador (voice)
 
Airport (1953) as Fernando
 
Crimen en el entreacto (1954)
 
The Mayor of Zalamea (1954) as El Rey
 
Rebellion (1954) as Capellán
 
Comedians (1954) as Miguel Solís
 
Miracle of Marcelino (1955) as Narrator Monk
 
Billete para Tánger (1955) as Inspector
 
La vida en un bloc (1956) (voice, uncredited)
 
Una aventura de Gil Blas (1956) as Capitaine Rolando
 
Playa prohibida (1956)
 
Don Juan (1956) as Don Iñigo
 
Calle Mayor (1956) as Federico Rivas (voice, uncredited)
 
The Singer from Mexico (1956) as Cartoni – l’impresario (uncredited)
 
Faustina (1957) as Valentín
 
Horas de pánico (1957)
 
Madrugada (1957) as Mauricio (voice, uncredited)
 
Un marido de ida y vuelta (1957) as Paco
 
Las últimas banderas (1957)
 
El andén (1957) as Don Enrique
 
The Night Heaven Fell (1958) as Tío (alternate version)
 
La venganza (1958) as Escritor
 
¡Viva lo imposible! (1958) as Narrator (voice, uncredited)
 
Parque de Madrid (1959) as Don Luis
 
Sonatas (1959) as Capitán Casares
 
The Last Days of Pompeii (1959) as Arbaces, High Priest of Isis
 
Las dos y media… y veneno (1959) as Ramón
 
Mission in Morocco (1959) as Princ Achmed
 
La rana verde (1960) as Narrator (voice)
 
Culpable (1960) as Mario
 
Vida sin risas (1960)
 
Don Lucio y el hermano pío (1960) as Señor Aguilar
 
The Revolt of the Slaves (1960) as Valerio
 
Teresa (1961) as Profesor Héctor de la Barrera
 
Goliath Against the Giants (1961) as Bokan, i usurpario
 
Viridiana (1961, directed by Luis Buñuel) as Don Jaime
 
Fantasmas en la casa (1961) as Raimundo Rodríguez de Toledo
 
Siempre es domingo (1961) as Juez Andonelli
 
My Son, the Hero (1962) as Sumo Sacerdote / High Priest
 
Tierra brutal (1962) as Don Hernán
 
Face of Terror (1962) as Dr. Charles Taylor
 
Rogelia (1962) as Máximo García
 
El valle de las espadas (1963) as Ramiro II, rey de León
 
The Running Man (1963) as Police Official
 
Shéhérazade (1963)
 
The Ceremony (1963) as Sanchez
 
Backfire (1964) as Commissioner of Beirut harbor
 
El espontáneo (1964) as El Rico Pintor
 
Los Palomos (1964) as Don Alberto
 
Fin de semana (1964) as Entrevistador
 
La nueva Cenicienta (1964) as Juan Echarre
 
La hora incógnita (1964) as Sacerdote
 
El señor de La Salle (1964) as Luis XIV
 
Dulcinea del Toboso (1964)
 
El Diablo también llora (1965) as Ramòn Quiroga
 
Son of a Gunfighter (1965) as Don Pedro Fortuna
 
Das Vermächtnis des Inka (1965) as President Castillo
 
I grandi condottieri (1965) as Lo straniero / The Stranger – Angel of the Lord
 
Two Mafiosi Against Goldfinger (1965) as Goldginger
 
Espionage in Lisbon (1965) as Agent of the New World Organization
 
El marqués (1965) as Publisher Ramos
 
Chimes at Midnight (1965) as Worcester
 
Cartes sur table (1966) as Sir Percy
 
Zampo y yo (1966) as Luis ‘Zampo’
 
El Greco (1966, directed by Luciano Salce) as Felipe II
 
Return of the Seven (1966) as Priest
 
Navajp Joe (1966, directed by Sergio Corbucci) as Rev. Rattigan
 
The Desperate Ones (1967) as Ibram
 
Le vicomte règle ses comptes (1967) as Marco Demoygne
 
Run Like a Thief (1967) as Col. Romero
 
Cervantes (1967, directed by Vincent Sherman) as Philip II
 
Love in Flight (1967) as Carlos Mª Saldiez
 
The Immortal Story (1968, directed by Orson Welles) as Merchant telling Clay’s history (uncredited)
 
Villa Rides (1968) as Fuentes
 
Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969) as Quintero
 
Land Raiders (1969) as Priest
 
Un sudario a la medida (1969) as Marco Augusto
 
The Price of Power (1969, directed by Tonino Valerii) as Pinkerton
 
The Adventurers (1970, directed by Lewis Gilbert) as Jaime Xenos
 
Tristana (1970, directed by Luis Buñuel) as Don Lope
 
Aoom (1970)
 
Chicas de club (1970) as Padrino Elisa
 
La collera del vento (1970, directed by Mario Camus) as Don Antonio
 
Compañeros (1970, directed by Sergio Corbucci) as Prof. Xantos
 
Historia de una traición (1971) as Luis
 
Cold Eyes of Fear (1971, directed by Enzo G. Castellari) as Judge Bedell
 
A Town Called Bastard (1971, directed by Robert Parrish) as Old blind man
 
The Light at the Edge of the World (1971, directed by Kevin Billington) as Captain Moriz
 
Francia kapcsolat /The French Connection/(1971, directed by William Friedkin) as Alain Charnier
 
This Kind of Love (1972) as Giovanna’s father
 
Antony and Cleopatra (1972) as Lepidus
 
The Two Faces of Fear (1972) as Inspector Nardi
 
Bianco, rosso e… (1972, directed by Alberto Lattuada) as Jefe médico
 
The Doubt (1972) as Don Rodrigo – Conde de Albrit
 
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, directed by Luis Buñuel) as Don Rafael Acosta
 
Tarot (1973) as Arthur
 
High Crime (1973, directed by Enzo G. Castellari) as Cafiero
 
One Way (1973) as Mr. David
 
La Chute d’un corps (1973) as M. Nansoit
 
White Fang (1973, directed by Lucio Fulci) as Father Oatley
 
Pena de muerte (1974) as Oscar Bataille
 
¿… Y el prójimo? (1974) as Luis Ignacio
 
Dites-le avec des fleurs (1974) as Jacques Berger
 
Drama of the Rich (1974, directed by Mauro Bolognini) as Il professore Murri
 
La Femme aux bottes rouges (fr) (1974, directed by Juan Luis Buñuel) as Perrot
 
Corruzione al palazzo di giustizia (1975, directed by Marcello Aliprandi) as Judge Vanini
 
Francia kapcsolat II. /French Connection II/ (1975, directed by John Frankenheimer) as Alain Charnier
 
Seven Beauties (1975, directed by Lina Wertmüller) as Pedro the Anarchist Prisoner
 
Illustrious Corpses (1976, directed by Francesco Rosi) as Security Minister
 
Manuela (1976) as Don Ramón
 
A Matter of Time (1976, directed by Vincente Minnelli) as Charles Van Maar
 
The Desert of the Tartars (1976, directed by Valerio Zurlini) as Colonel Nathanson
 
Voyage of the Damned (1976, directed by Stuart Rosenberg) as President Bru
 
Striptease (1976) as Alfonso
 
El segundo poder (1976) as Cardenal
 
Jesus of Nazareth (TV miniseries) (1977, directed by Franco Zeffirelli) as Gaspar
 
Elisa, vida mía (1977, directed by Carlos Saura) as Luis
 
The Assignment (1977, directed by Mats Arehn) as Roberto Bidara
 
Eyes Behind the Wall (1977) as Ivano
 
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977, directed by Luis Buñuel) as Mathieu
 
Le Dernier Amant romantique (1978) as Max
 
Rebeldía (1978) as Don Luis
 
Traffic Jam (1979, directed by Luigi Comencini) as Carlo
 
Kvintett – Quintet (1979, directed by Robert Altman) as Grigor
 
Caboblanco (1980, directed by J. Lee Thompson) as Police Captain Terredo
 
The Crime of Cuenca (1980) as Contreras
 
Memorias de Leticia Valle (1980) as Don Fernando Valle
 
The Lady of the Camellias (1981, directed by Mauro Bolognini) as Count Stackelberg
 
Honey (1981) as Editor
 
Chaste and Pure (1981, directed by Salvatore Samperi) as Antonio Di Maggio
 
Trágala, perro (1981) as Juez
 
Cercasi Gesù (1982) as Don Filippo
 
A Estrangeira (1982) as André
 
Monsignor (1982, directed by Frank Perry) as Santoni
 
Bearn o la sala de las muñecas (1983) as Don Antonio
 
The Hit (1984, directed by Stephen Frears) as Senior Policeman
 
A Strange Passion (1984) as Piacchi
 
A.D. (1985, directed by Stuart Cooper) as Seneca
 
Black Arrow (1985, directed by John Hough) as Warwick
 
Padre nuestro (1985) as Cardenal
 
Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985, directed by Hugh Wilson) as Railroad Colonel
 
The Knight of the Dragon (1985, directed by Fernando Colomo) as Fray Lupo
 
Saving Grace (1986, directed by Robert M. Young) as Cardinal Stefano Biondi
 
Elogio della pazzia (1986)
 
Commando Mengele (1987) as Ohmei Felsberg
 
Hôtel du Paradis (1987, directed by Jana Boková) as Joseph
 
Mi general (1987) as Director Almirante
 
El bosque animado (1987, directed by José Luis Cuerda) as Sr. D’Abondo
 
The Tunnel (1988) as Allende
 
Pasodoble (1988) as Don Nuño
 
Moon over Parador (1988, directed by Paul Mazursky) as Alejandro
 
Diario de invierno (1988) as Padre
 
El aire de un crimen (1988) as Fayón
 
Esmeralda Bay (1989) as Ramos
 
Naked Tango (1990, directed by Leonard Schrader) as Juez Torres
 
Breath of Life (1990, directed by Beppe Cino) as Gran Magno
 
La batalla de los Tres Reyes (1990) as Papa Pablo V
 
Don Quixote (1992) as Closing Scene Narrator (voice, uncredited)
 
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992, directed by Ridley Scott) as Marchena
 
Después del sueño (1992) as Ramiro Lanza
 
La marrana (1992) as Fray Juan
 
L’Atlantide (1992, directed by Bob Swaim) as Father Mauritius
 
Madregilda (1993) as Padre de Franco
 
On the Far Side of the Tunnel (1994, directed by Jaime de Armiñán) as Miguel
 
El cianuro… ¿solo o con leche? (1994) as Gregorio (final film role)
Biography
The beginnings
 
Rey was born in A Coruña, Spain, the son of Captain Casado Veiga. He studied architecture, but the Spanish Civil War interrupted his university studies which led him to his success.
Fernando Rey with Silvia Pinal in Viridiana, in the cover of the film script book.
Fernando Rey with Gloria Grahame in Tarot (The Magician, 1973).
Fernando Rey, as Don Quixote, with Alfredo Landa, as Sancho Panza, in El Quijote de Miguel de Cervantes (1991).
 
In 1936, Rey began his career in movies as an extra, sometimes even getting credited. It was then that he chose his stage name, Fernando Rey. He kept his first name, but took his mother’s second surname, Rey, a short surname with a clear meaning (“Rey” is Spanish for “King”).
In 1944, his first speaking role was the Duke of Alba in José López Rubio’s Eugenia de Montijo. Four years later, he acted the part of Felipe I el Hermoso, King of Spain, in the Spanish cinema blockbuster Locura de amor.
This was the start of a prolific career in film (he played in around two hundred films), radio, theatre, and television. Rey was also a great dubbing actor in Spanish television. His voice was considered intense and personal, and he became the narrator of important Spanish movies including Luis García Berlanga’s Bienvenido Mr. Marshall (1953), Ladislao Vajda’s Marcelino Pan y Vino (1955), and even the 1992 re-dubbed version of Orson Welles’ Don Quixote. In fact, Rey acted in four different film versions of Don Quixote in different roles, if one counts the Welles version (for which Rey supplied offscreen narration in the final scene).
His brilliant performance in the role of a demotivated and doubtful actor in Juan Antonio Bardem’s Cómicos (1954), while showing him for the first time in a successful lead part, paradoxically, as he saw himself as the real incarnation of the role, plunged him in a professional depression, of which he did not emerge until his collaboration with Luis Buñuel several years later. However, in the short term, Buñuel’s disconcerting public remark on Rey’s performance in another of Bardem’s film, Sonatas (1959), “I love how this actor plays a corpse”, could only increase Rey’s apprehensions. Nevertheless, eventually Rey became Buñuel’s preferred actor and closest friend.
International career
 
Rey’s first international performance was in The Night Heaven Fell (Les bijoutiers du clair de lune) a 1958 French-Italian film directed by Roger Vadim, where he acted alongside Stephen Boyd, Marina Vlady and Brigitte Bardot. Previously he had played in an American TV series, It happens in Spain, the story of the exploits of a private detective, operating out in Spain, who helps distressed American tourists.
In 1959, Rey co-starred with Steve Reeves and Christine Kaufmann in the Italian sword and sandal film The Last Days of Pompeii.
In 1961 Rey played in a European Western, The Savage Guns, and as the popularity of that genre increased during that decade appeared in some other movies, including the political The Price of Power (1969), the bizarre cult classic Compañeros, and two sequels of The Magnificent Seven, namely Return of the Seven (1966) and Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969).
It was his work with Orson Welles and Luis Buñuel during the 1960s and 1970s that made Rey internationally prominent; becoming the first ‘international Spanish actor.’ Rey starred in Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961), Tristana (1970), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie) (1972) (a surreal movie which received the 1972 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film) and That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). For Welles, Rey performed in two completed films, Chimes at Midnight (1966) and The Immortal Story (1968).
Rey played memorably the French villain Alain Charnier in William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971). Initially, Friedkin intended to cast Francisco Rabal as Charnier, but could not remember his name after seeing him in Luis Buñuel’s Belle de jour; he only knew the person he had in mind was a Spanish actor who had worked with Buñuel. Rey was hired after he flew to New York to be met by a surprised Friedkin. Rey’s English and French were not perfect, but Friedkin discovered that Rabal spoke neither of them, and opted to keep Rey, who reprised the role in the less successful sequel, French Connection II (1975).
Along 1970s and 1980s Rey played in many international co-productions, some of his appearances being cameos. These films include Lewis Gilbert’s The Adventurers (1970), Mauro Bolognini’s Drama of the Rich (1974), Vincente Minnelli’s A Matter of Time (1976), Valerio Zurlini’s The Desert of the Tartars (1976), Robert Altman’s Quintet (1979), J. Lee Thompson’s Caboblanco (1980) and Frank Perry’s Monsignor (1982). One of Rey’s greater successes in these years was Elisa, vida mía, a 1977 Spanish drama film written and directed by Carlos Saura.
On his work in Stuart Rosenberg’s Voyage of the Damned (1976), Rey once said: “I played [Cuban] president Brú; a cameo. They paid me a lot of money for less than six hours of shooting, in the Barcelona Stock Exchange building, with James Mason. I got more money than Orson Welles, who played a great role …”.
Back in Spain
 
In later years, Rey preferred to work in Spain, with successes as Francisco Regueiro’s Padre Nuestro (1985), José Luis Cuerda’s El bosque animado (1987) and Jaime de Armiñán’s Al otro lado del túnel (1992) as well as his portrayal of Don Quixote, alongside Alfredo Landa as Sancho Panza, in the memorable Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón’s El Quijote de Miguel de Cervantes (1991) for the Spanish National TV.
His last appearance on the screen was in a supporting role in the Spanish black comedy El cianuro … ¿sólo o con leche? (Cyanide … pure or with milk?) (1994).
 
 
Recognition and awards
 
In 1971 Fernando Rey won the best actor award in the San Sebastián International Film Festival, for his performance in Rafael Gil’s La duda, based, like Viridiana and Tristana, on a novel by Benito Pérez Galdós.
Another of the successes of Rey-Buñuel’s collaboration was That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), nominated for another Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category, though the movie failed to win either. Rey’s voice had to be dubbed by Michel Piccoli.
In Lina Wertmüller’s Academy Award-nominated film, Seven Beauties (1975), Rey played the role of Pedro the anarchist who, as a friend of the protagonist and fellow prisoner Pasqualino Settebellezze, chooses a gruesome suicide, rather than spend another day in a Nazi concentration camp.
Rey won Best Actor award at 1977 Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Elisa, vida mía.
In 1988 he again won the best actor award in the San Sebastián International Film Festival, this time for his performance in two films: Francisco Regueiro’s Diario de invierno and Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi’s El Aire de un Crimen (The Hint of a Crime).
Fernando Rey was also awarded the gold medal of the Spanish Movie Arts and Sciences Academy.
 
 
Personal life and death
 
In 1960, Rey married the Argentine actress Mabel Karr. In 1992 he became chairman of the Spanish Movie Arts and Sciences Academy. He died of bladder cancer in Madrid in 1994.
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