Fernando Rey  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Fernando Casado D'Arambillet, better known as Fernando Rey (September 20, 1917 – March 9, 1994), was a Spanish film actor famous in both Europe and the United States.

Rey was born in A Coruña, Spain, then known as La Coruña, the son of Captain Casado Veiga. He studied architecture, but then the Spanish Civil War began, interrupting his university days.

In 1936, Rey began his career in movies as an extra, sometimes even getting credited. It was then that he chose his stage name, Fernando Rey. He kept his first name, but took his mother's second surname, Rey, a short surname with a clear meaning ("Rey" is Spanish for "King").

In 1944, his first speaking role was the Duke de Alba in José López Rubio's Eugenia de Montijo. Four years later, he acted the part of Felipe el hermoso, King of Spain in the Spanish cinema blockbuster Locura de amor.

This was the start of a prolific career in movies, radio, theater and television. Rey was also a great dubbing actor in Spanish television. His voice was considered intense and personal, and he became the narrator of important Spanish movies like Luis García Berlanga's Bienvenido Mr. Marshall (1953), Ladislao Vajda's Marcelino Pan y Vino (1955), and even the 1992 re-dubbed version of Orson Welles' Don Quixote. In fact, Rey acted in four different film versions of Don Quixote in different roles, if one counts the Welles version (for which Rey supplied offscreen narration in the final scene).

His work with Luis Buñuel during the 1960s and 1970s made him internationally famous; he was the first "international Spanish actor". Rey starred in Buñuel's Viridiana; Tristana; Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) (1972), a complex movie which received the 1972 "Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film".

Another of the successes of Rey-Buñuel's tandem was That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), nominated for another "Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film". It was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category, though the movie failed to win either. Rey's voice had to be dubbed by Michel Piccoli.

In Lina Wertmüller’s Academy Award-nominated film, Seven Beauties (1975), Rey played the role of Pedro the anarchist who, as a friend of the protagonist and fellow prisoner, Pasqualino Settebellezze, chooses a gruesome suicide rather than spend another day in a Nazi concentration camp.

Rey played the French villain Alain Charnier in William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971). Initially, Friedkin intended to cast Francisco Rabal as Charnier, but could not remember his name: he only knew it was a Spanish actor. Rey was hired before Friedkin could see him. Rey did not speak English and his French was somewhat poor, but Friedkin discovered that Rabal spoke neither French nor English, and opted to keep Rey, who reprised the role in the less successful 1975 sequel, French Connection II.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Rey was awarded at San Sebastián and Cannes, and received the gold medal of the Spanish Art and Movie Sciences Academy. He became the president of that Academy from 1992 until his death from cancer two years later.

Selected filmography

See also

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