Terence Hill’s career could be read as a story of what might have been. He is, after all, a Paul Newman lookalike whose finest work came in a character called Nobody. But that would be a mistake, for the Italian-born actor — still going strong in his ninth decade — has come to embody the best values of showbusiness.
Terence Hill on the set of They Call Me Trinity, 1970 (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

In January 1977, the Los Angeles Times dispatched a reporter to Almería in southern Spain, where an actor whose career was threatening to make an indentation in the U.S. market was shooting a Foreign Legion drama called March or Die. After spending some time on set, the reporter noted his subject’s good looks and easy charm. “This dashing rogue,” he wrote, “is a former watersports champion who keeps a complete gymnastics unit in the barn next to his home in the Massachusetts Berkshires and insists on doing all his own stunts.” On the question of personality, though, the Times — ironically or otherwise — decided to hedge its bets. “If he is going to be a big American star,” the story read, “he will have to stop fraternising with the extras and giving everybody who comes up to him a slightly nervous grin. [He] must learn to be tough and snarl at wardrobe people who fail to have the right costume ready when he needs it. Whoever heard of someone whose name is above the title sprinting back to his trailer to get a costume so the director can get one more scene in before the desert sun clouds over?”

The awfully obliging actor was Terence Hill. He was 37, at the height of his powers, and with a quarter of a century of movie experience already behind him.


    Stephen Wood


    December 2020


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