Angiolino Giuseppe Pasquale "Lino" Ventura (14 July 1919 22 October 1987) was an Italian actor and wrestler who settled and made his fame in France.
His parents were Italian immigrants from Parma, they moved to France when he was 8. He was conscripted in the Italian army during World War II but deserted. He started a career in Greco-Roman wrestling, then made himself a name in French professional wrestling. One day, a friend of his told him that director Jacques Becker was looking for a "strong guy" henchman type for his gangster movie, Touchez pas au grisbi in 1954, which ended up being his first movie role.
Ventura's movie career rapidly took off, and he went from similar henchman supporting roles to starring roles in gangster films, dramas and comedies alike, to great success from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. He was the father of four, including an intellectually disabled daughter. He created Perce-Neige, a charity foundation for intellectually disabled people, in 1966 due to the latter.
He ranks #23 at The Greatest Frenchman despite never wanting to apply for French citizenship (he went on to say he wanted to "stay true to his Italian roots"), which speaks volumes on how popular and beloved he was in the country. He was even born on France's national day.
Filmography on TV Tropes:
- Touchez pas au grisbi (1954)
- Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
- Un Taxi Pour Tobrouk (1961)
- Trilogie des Malfaisants:
- Army of Shadows (1969)
- Last Known Address (1970)
- The Valachi Papers (1972)
- L'aventure, c'est l'aventure (1972)
- Le Silencieux (1973)
- Illustrious Corpses (1976)
- The Medusa Touch (1978)
- Garde à vue (1981)
- Espion, lève-toi (1982)
- Les Misérables (1982)
Tropes in his works:
- The Comically Serious: His trademark style in comedies, especially in the films from the Trilogie des Malfaisants, with dialogues written by Michel Audiard.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Albert Uderzo gave his face to Roman centurion Platypus in the Asterix comic book The Roman Agent.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: He put his wrestling talents to good use in his fight scenes. The Michel Audiard-written movies in particular have him comedically clobber people who get in his way.
- Retired Badass: Often played former tough as nails gangsters who find themselves forced to go back in action.
- What Could Have Been: Steven Spielberg offered him the role of Claude Lacombe in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and he declined (and so did Jean-Louis Trintignant). The role went to François Truffaut instead.