Fellini’s primary roles have often been endorsed by some of the best actors of his time. We know he directed Mastroianni as though he was his alter-ego, to the point “we never knew where Fellini ended and where Mastroianni started” - as Anouk Aimée recalls from the shooting of La Dolce Vita.
Yet images Fellini’s films have left in our minds, long after we watched them, are the multiple strange faces of secondary roles, extras, unknown actors we have never heard of and never will. Fellini considered them as part of the décor, spending a tremendous time to cast them. Some may say he invented street casting. When looking for the right face, he would publish a short add on local newspapers: “Frederico Fellini is ready to meet anyone who wants to see him”.
Anyone: farmers, prostitutes, blue collars, magicians, beggars, bourgeoises, midgets, bankers. Hundreds of people would come to meet the film master in his home, leaving behind a photo that would then be meticulously classified. Over 10.000 pictures constituted Fellini’s casting library. How did he find his way through these pictures? Through over 200 categories of his own, among which: “interesting face”, “fat women with sensual face”, “repugnant head”, “voluptuous woman and a bit of a floozy ” or “the little queer”. We can’t help but wonder where he would have placed us...