Watch This: Marcello Mastroianni Turns on the Charm for Letterman, 1987

Marcello Mastroianni (born September 28, 1924) was one of the great actors of the screen and an international superstar for decades.

For Americans, who saw many of his best films during the art cinema import boom that began in the late ’50s, he simultaneously embodied a kind of swaggering screen presence that was no longer de rigueur for Hollywood leading men, as well as a sort of built-in ironic critique of the pose. The whole effect, when transposed over his natural charm and good looks, was devastatingly effective and he was, for a time (to the great annoyance of those poor employees who had to change the letters on theater marquees) a potent box office force in the U.S.

Occasionally, his American fanbase dictated that he visit the New World, which he did from time to time without ever really grabbing more than a tiny bit of the language. Somehow, this added to his already considerable appeal, as you will see from this television interview with David Letterman. Mastroianni’s command of English is very tentative, but he gets his point across quite well, and the interview has several big laughs.


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