Faye Dunaway’s confessions: from the love of her life, Mastroianni, who never left his wife for her to her attacks of anger on the ‘set’ | Famous | S Fashion

On the night of March 28, 1977, Faye Dunaway (Florida, 83 years old) won her first Oscar for networkby Sidney Lumet. It was his third nomination, the first having come just 10 years earlier, with Bonnie and Clyde, for which the actress became a sudden star and icon, a position that on the eve of that Oscar would already be eternal. At those Oscars, the photographer Terry O’Neill approached her, told her that he did not want to take the typical image of her with the statuette that, please, get up at 6 in the morning, he would wait for her at the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He had already prepared the set: the pool in the background, the table, the chair and the newspapers with the headlines of his award on the floor, breakfast and the Oscar on the table. Faye only needed 15 minutes, they shot 12 different photos, one of them is today one of the most emblematic in Hollywood. The rest of the star. Her fame would be forever portrayed there, but also the emptiness, the loneliness that accompanies it.

The photograph taken by Terry O’Neill is the poster for the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

The documentary Faye, presented these days at the Cannes Festival, produced by HBO, begins with the anecdote of this image. And it makes perfect sense, Faye Dunaway has been and is one of the great stars of Hollywood, but also one of the most lonely and abandoned. And, in part, because of herself or, rather, because of her illness. Following the story of this portrait of O’Neill (with whom, by the way, she then began a relationship, they married and adopted the actress’s only son, Liam), the adjectives to define her come quickly: “Hero, legend , force of nature, my friend,” says Sharon Stone. To which others immediately add: complicated, volatile, difficult. “Who would she never work with again in Hollywood?” Johnny Carson asks veteran Bette Davis in an old interview: “Not for a million dollars… with Faye Dunaway. And I think anyone would tell you the same thing,” he laughs. Her anger, her mood swings, her fits of rage… Dunaway begins by justifying them on camera today because of her obsession with perfectionism and detail. It is her son who confesses his diagnosis of manic depression and bipolarity, which has only begun to be treated correctly “a couple of years ago.”

Faye Dunaway with her son Liam.  (Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival).
Faye Dunaway with her son Liam. (Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival).

In this way, her complex diva temperament, the complaints of her professional colleagues for years and even the fear of the press and publicists of confronting her are explained. And, in this way, the documentary becomes a defense of mental health, in line with today’s times, in which, by the way, one of its biggest failures on screen, Mom Dearest (Frank Perry, 1991), in the one in which Dunaway played the deranged and violent Joan Crawford following her daughter’s memories, takes on another meaning. In those early nineties, no one talked about mental illness, no one wanted to see the dark side of a star mistreating her daughter… Faye dared, transformed into Johnny Guitar’s actress, and threw herself into the abyss.

“I need my job, not someone else,” Faye says at one point in the film. This is how he also justifies the failure of all of her romantic relationships. Starting with the one who, she confesses, was probably the love of her life: Marcello Mastroianni. They met while filming Lovers, by Vittorio de Sica. He was married, for her it was only her fourth film. They spent a couple of years in secret. “I arrived in Fiumicino with a brown wig and my head down,” she says. He remained in a “delusional” state during that time, thinking that he would ever leave with her, until he decided to leave him. The important thing was her work and doing a good job was personal success for the actress.

Faye Dunaway and Marcello Mastroianni in 'Lovers'.
Faye Dunaway and Marcello Mastroianni in ‘Lovers’.Keystone Features (Getty Images)

In the sixties and seventies, Faye rose as the reference for independent and liberated women through her characters and perhaps because something of that character only admitted (and even applauded) in men permeated the feminist movement of that time. Still, she suffered. The demands of thinness (Steve McQueen laughed at her because of how little she weighed), the alcoholism that she believes she inherited from her father (and for which she has been in treatment for 15 years), the pressure to not lose her status in Hollywood. “My big dream was to have a child,” she cries, saying it in the documentary. By the time she wanted to have him, because of everything she had dedicated to her work, it was too late and she adopted Liam when he was less than a week old. The least seen and most tender images of the actress in the documentary are those home videos and family photos.

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in 'The Thomas Crown Affair' (1968).
Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ (1968).Silver Screen Collection (Getty Images)

He also suffered the wrath of some directors. Terrifying is the anecdote in which Roman Polanski tried to pull out, from his back, a rebellious hair that was shooting up in his mane while they were filming chinatown (1974). “What came out of Faye’s mouth,” says one of the assistants on that shoot, laughing.

The director Laurent Bouzereau, with the help of Liam Dunaway, and the best friends that the actress still has in Hollywood (Sharon Stone, Mickey Rourke, James Gray, the photographer and ex-boyfriend Jerry Schatzberg) undertake in the film a passionate defense of a legend who last night was happy to present herself like this, without filters, honestly, at the Cannes Festival, that place to which she has returned year after year as a simple spectator, being more Dorothy Dunaway, her birth name, than Faye, the person who he invented, “my mask, my shell,” he says.

“My mother started out as a normal person wanting to be famous, and she ended up as a famous person wanting to be normal,” says her son through tears. And she nods, but perhaps without all that pain she suffered, she would not have made it this far, the actress concludes, in this very real portrait of the star. Now maybe Faye can rest.

Laurent Bouzereau, Faye Dunaway, Liam Dunaway O'Neill and McKinzie Roth in Cannes.
Laurent Bouzereau, Faye Dunaway, Liam Dunaway O’Neill and McKinzie Roth in Cannes.Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

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