Peter Gonzales Falcon, the Texan who starred as a young Federico Fellini in the director’s semi-autobiographical Roma, has died, according to his friend Aurelio Montemayor. He was 75.
Gonzales Falcon got his start with a bit part in Viva Max (1969), a satirical film about a modern-day Mexican general (Peter Ustinov) who retakes the Alamo.
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The actor went on to model for a year in London before he landed the role that would make his career.
In 2018, Gonzales Falcon related the story of auditioning for Fellini after being recommended by actor Eugene Walter, a friend of a friend:
I went to Cinecittà where there was a line about a block long with young men wanting to meet Fellini. I went around the line to the main door and buzzed. The door was opened by Liliana [Fellini’s longtime assistant] who looked like a little Edward G. Robinson and even had a cigar in her mouth. I said in Italian, “Eugene told me to come over today.” She replied, “Eugenio!” She brought me right in and I went up to Fellini’s office. He was sitting at his desk just being himself. He asked me to walk in a circle around the room. That kind of pissed me off. I didn’t like it because it was weird. Why did I have to walk in a circle? In those days, bell bottoms and flair pants were in. I was wearing a casual kind of woolen suit. I asked, “Do you want to see my legs too?” I pulled up my pants and then said, “here are my knees.” I was a feisty uppity young guy back then. He just sat there and called Liliana over. In Italian, he told her I was “handsome and particular.” They looked at me and Fellini told me to come back in two weeks and we’ll get started. I said, “Okay, thank you.” And I left.
The film went on to premiere out of competition in Cannes and was the Italian entry to the Academy Award race for Best Foreign Language Film of 1972.
What followed for the actor (often billed as Peter Gonzalez) was a string of roles in TV shows such as Police Woman, starring Angie Dickenson and films like The End, starring and directed by Burt Reynolds in 1978.
Later work included 1983’s Heartbreaker, opposite Miguel Ferrer and Apollonia; Gregory Nava’s Bordertown in 2007, opposite Jennifer Lopez and Martin Sheen; and Tiramisu for Two in 2016.
Montemayor paid tribute to his friend on Facebook:
My friend, Peter, is no longer with us. I met him during my film-craze days in the 60s & 70s. A Chicano who had a major role in a Fellini film! I was mesmerized by European films of that period, from France, Italy and even Sweden. Roma was entrancing.
We had reconnected a few years back and I had been giving him feedback on a filmscript-in-development and then the Pandemic hit and I lost track of him. Then today his sister called…He grew up in La Pryor and that’s where his life journey ended.
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