Today we do have some glamorous people in the world, but the thing that made life different then, mainly, was the freedom celebrities had. They could sit on a beach, go walking on a street or to somebody’s house and not be photographed. That era is dead. Today, of course, they are hounded by the press. So the kind of life I was able to photograph doesn’t exist.
In the Sixties, I moved back to Italy. I wasn’t at all interested in leading the life of a well-born girl. As it happened, my mother bought a share in a film distribution business. “You’re always seeing movies,” she said to me. “Why don’t you suggest the ones we should buy?”
The list of films we bought included The Pawnbroker, Belle de Jour and other blockbusters. So I started producing films—Once Upon a Time in the West; Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion; Brother Sun, Sister Moon; and many, many more. Wherever I put my hand, it seemed to work. I knew Federico Fellini well but never worked with him. He was a genius, but with him you were just a bank, like Luchino Visconti, my close friend. They didn’t need your ideas. The person who impressed me most in the film world was Pier Paolo Pasolini. He was pure, pure intelligence. But he also had this strange kind of saintliness. I produced two films with him—Medea and Teorema. But I never saw him except for work. He didn’t have a normal life. The saintly part of him hated himself for being a “sinner” and living this violent life at night. That’s why, I think, he wanted somebody to kill him. Finally it happened. [A male prostitute was convicted of the director’s 1975 murder.]
In 1972 my brother killed himself. He was my only sibling and just a year younger than me. It completely broke up my stability and my wish to work with my family. So I left everything and went to work for Charlie Bluhdorn at Paramount. It was disastrous. He turned down every film I wanted to make, one of them being Last Tango in Paris. He said he would only do it without Brando. Because he had a picture with Brando about to come out that he was not too sure of—called The Godfather. Ha-ha. Really funny.
A couple of years later, my father died, and I inherited some money. I was living with Florinda Bolkan, who was an important actress at the time.
I’ve always been of the idea that what you do in your bedroom is your business. I’ve had relationships with lots of good-looking guys—Alain Delon, George Hamilton. An attractive person is an attractive person. But it’s who you meet at a certain moment that determines who you are going to be. Florinda and I lived together for 21 years. We were very natural about being together; it was our life. She is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, and one of the nicest. Wildly private. Not always easy. Ask Ryan O’Neal.