“Obscure and arty…”
Peter Bogdanovich: How about Ro.Go.Pa.G.?
Orson Welles: Can’t believe that. I was never in a picture with a name like that.
PB: In one episode directed by Pasolini. You played a movie director.
OW: Oh yes… Censored, in Italy at least, after one single screening in Venice.
PB: I didn’t think it was very good.
OW: No? Why?
PB: It was sort of obscure and arty—
OW [laughs]: “Obscure and arty.” Simply because it didn’t happen on the banks of the Mississippi, it’s obscure and arty… You mustn’t be asked about anything that isn’t, you know, Judge Shit on the Range or something—
PB [laughing]: Well, among other things wrong with it, they dubbed you in Italian.
OW: I played it in Italian! The exhibitors must have thought the Italian public couldn’t stand my accent. They have a terrible snobbism about accents in Italy. So much so that a lot of their leading actors — the girls especially — have never been heard in Italy speaking their own language in their own voices; they’re dubbed by radio actors.
PB: I didn’t know that.
OW: Yes. If your accent is vaguely of the north, let’s say, then everybody in the south hoots with laughter. So of course my own little touch of Kenosha [Wisconsin] would have been fatal. I read a poem in that one, and Pasolini told everybody that he’d never heard an Italian actor read Italian poetry with such simplicity and directness. He tried to get me to play a pig a couple of years ago when I was in Vienna.
PB [laughing]: Really a pig?
OW: A German pig. Something really obscene.
PB: You like Pasolini?
OW: Terribly bright and gifted. Crazy mixed-up kid, maybe — but on a very superior level. I mean Pasolini the poet, spoiled Christian, and Marxist ideologue. There’s nothing mixed up about him on a movie set. Real authority and a wonderfully free way with the machinery.
— from This is Orson Welles.