ROME — Adaptable Cuban-American-Italian celebrity Tomas Milian, known for the intensity he brought into disparate roles, while in dramas by supervisors such as Bernardo Bertolucci and Steven Soderbergh or as the Roman lowlife character that made him a household name in Italy, died Thursday. He was 84.
Milian died of a stroke in his Miami home, according to Italian news service ANSA.
A Method actor who studied Milian, with Lee Strasberg played in about 120 movies throughout a career. The majority of the films were shot in Italy, in which he worked with directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti and Pier Paolo Pasolini besides acting in Spaghetti Westerns, celebrity movies, along with the franchise according to his Roman lowlife character “Er Monnezza” (“Mr. Trash”).
Later in his career, Milian moved into the U.S. where, among other films, he appeared in Sydney Pollack’s “Havana,” in Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” and played corrupt General Arturo Salazar in Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” a character for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award, with the remaining portion of the ensemble cast.
Born Tomas Quintin Rodriguez on March 3, 1933, in Havana, Milian was the son of a Cuban general who during the revolution was detained and convicted, which prompted Milian to emigrate to New York, where he studied at the Actors Studio and became a U.S. taxpayer.
While operating on Broadway, Milian was encouraged in 1958 to attend to the Spoleto theater festival and proceeded into Italy after being given the part of a young Roman in Mauro Bolognini’s “The Big Night” (1959), which was established on a brief story by Pasolini.
After landing more supportive roles in other Bolognini movies and in dramas by other Italian auteurs, Milian broke out as a Spaghetti Western celebrity in pics including Sergio Sollima’s “The Big Gundown,” (1966) and Giulio Petroni’s “Tepepa” (1969), where Orson Welles also starred. He transitioned during the mid-1970s into Italy’s so-called “poliziottesco” films — violent cop movies — most notably playing Roman authorities Inspector Nico Giraldi, a former burglar, in the Bruno Corbucci-directed “Nico Giraldi” franchise.
Later, Milian landed his first part in Umberto Lenzi’s hit collection of “Er Monnezza” actions comedies, which conducted from 1976 to 1980 and made his popularity soar in Italy. Milian became an Italian citizen in 1969.
He wrote his own Roman vernacular lines and always chosen to perform in Italian though Milian’s unique accent was the voice of dubber Ferruccio Amendola.
In 1980, he was awarded a Silver Ribbon by Italy’s national film journalists institution because of his supporting character in Bertolucci’s “La Luna.” He emerged in Antonioni’s “Identification of a Woman” in 1982.
After going back to New York in the middle-’80s, Milian had a busy career as a supporting actress, for example Abel Ferrara’s erotic thriller “Cat Chaser” (1989), Oliver Stone’s “JFK” (1991), along with the 1992 CBS sitcom “Frannie’s Turn,” which smashed. His more recent characters include a prelate in “The Lost City” (2005), placed during revolutionary Cuba, led by Andy Garcia.
At 2014, the Rome Film Festival gave a lifetime achievement Milian award.
He is survived by a son, celebrity Tomaso Milian, Jr..