How did you get a role in Mayrig?
I did a film in Paris with Henri Verneuil in 1959 and then, many years after he asked me to do this one. The story and the movie… It was incredible. It was a very long movie: when I started my heroine was 35 years old and when I finished she was more than 80. It was also fantastic because I met Omar Sharif, whom I first met in Tunisia, when I was 15 years old.
Was it difficult for you to be in the role of an Armenian mother?
No, I was an Armenian mother, as the film director wanted. Verneuil is a marvelous director. He tells you what to do while you have to understand him and do exactly what he wants. That’s important, especially for that kind of story. It wasn’t difficult. I was 52 years also and I played totally different roles - from princess to a courtesan. Each role is a life and I have been living a large number of lives, totally different. I like to change.
You were starring in different directors’ films, directors of different nationalities…Was it difficult to work with them?
No, it was interesting. I met too many people. In America, it was Black Edwards, crazy one; and people very strict like Visconti; and Fellini, who was totally crazy, because most of the script was just improvisation.
How did you prepare for the role? Did you know about the Armenian Genocide?
Yes, f course, I knew about it. Everybody knows. It’s always dramatic to remember all these stories that we had all over the world. It’s terrible.
Had the film change something inside of you?
When you do a movie in front of the camera you become the other one. And live apart. The most important thing is to separate yourself and the plot, otherwise you may lose your personality. You have to change all the time and to do so you have to be very strong.
You children, you have a daughter and a son. Did they take up your career?
No. I asked my daughter many times to become an actress but she refused, saying “they will be calling me because I’m you daughter”. Her name is Claudia too. She is very beautiful.
You are a legend, the more so because you have rejected the most handsome men. Do you keep in touch with the actors you were starring with?
For me, my work is one thing and my life is something else. Even if actors are very handsome. Alen Delon and Franco Nero are old friends of mine. Delon always said we could have had a marvelous love story but now we because a couple of legend.
And what are you doing now?
I’m working a lot with young directors. I did a movie in Tunisia, a very strong film, about homosexuality. Then, I did a film in Istanbul with a very young director, he is 29. Then I’ll be doing a film in New York.
What about your future plans?
I’m traveling a lot. As a I have 52 years of career, they are always calling me from all over the world. In September I’m going to Colorado. I will also go to Spain, Italy.
Reverting to Mayrig film again... Do you have anything to add?
It’s difficult to remember every detail. But I do remember that it’s a marvelous story, a real story. My mother was in love with this film. She is not here anymore; she left us 10 years ago. It was often on television in Italy. And she often called me to say, “Claudia, Mayrig is showing on TV.”
It’s sad that Henri Verneuil is not here anymore. It would be fantastic to be together here this evening. I’m going to see this film tonight. It’s a long time I haven’t seen it...