10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Franco Nero 
Written by: on September 23rd, 2004

“I would speak to Vanessa’s father Sir Michael Redgrave, or Laurence Olivier or John Gielgud, and they told me that, at a certain point, I had to make a choice. I could be a star and maybe make lots of money, or I could change roles all the time and have a more interesting and longer career. People will criticize you, they said, but if you keep changing, you’ll win in the end.” – Franco Nero

Francesco Sparanero aka Franco Nero was born November 23rd, 1941 in San Prospero, Parma, Italy. Nero is the son of a police sergeant and he would study economics and trade in Milan University. Around this time Nero appeared in popular Italian photo-novels which lead to him getting some minor roles in films. Nero also worked at this time as a set photographer when he was discovered by John Huston who would cast him as Abel in The Bible.

“I was working as a set photographer on De Laurentiis “The Bible” in 1966. Director John Huston had seen a photo of me and said, ‘That’s the face I want.'” – Franco Nero

Spaghetti westerns by the mid-1960 had become an international phenomena and Nero would be cast in 1966 in an Italian western Django as the title character. The character Django and the western genre is what Nero is most remember for, still as an actor he liked to challenge himself by working in all genre’s. In 1967 Nero would star in the Hollywood production Camelot where he would meet actress Vanessa Redgrave his long time partner.

“You can clean up the mess, but don’t touch my coffin.” – Django

In the late 1960’s and 1970’s Nero would star in several Classic Spaghetti Western’s, Giallo’s and Italian crime thrillers like The Mercenary, Compañeros, The Fifth Cord, High Crime, How to Kill a Judge, Street Law, Keoma and Hitch Hike. By the early 1980’s Nero would still find him in high demand as he would continue to work in Italy and around the world. Menahem Golan’s film from 1981 Enter the Ninja in which Nero would play the role of white ninja would be one of his best roles of the 1980’s.

“So who are you going to kill next, Mr. Ninja?” – Dollars
“My friend, a ninja doesn’t kill. He eliminates and only for defensive purposes.” – Cole

In 1992 Nero has starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Die Hard 2 and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Francesco Sparanero has come along way since growing up in a provincial northern Italian town. He has played just about every character imaginable over the last forty years, still even through a name change and international fame he has always remained the consummate professional.


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