We know that Charles Bronson re-defined the Western, but did you know that he was also offered not one but two iconic roles in the classic film, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?” That’s right, Bronson was approached to play the roles of Tuco and Angel Eyes.
But unfortunately, he had to turn them down as he was already committed to filming “The Dirty Dozen” in England at the time. Fate had other plans for Bronson, and he would go on to work with director Sergio Leone in another Western classic, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which was released in 1968.
Bronson Shines in Villa Rides
In the 1968 film “Villa Rides,” Charles Bronson delivered a memorable performance as the notorious Mexican revolutionary Rodolfo Fierro, the right-hand man of Pancho Villa, played by Yul Brynner. Although Bronson's role was not the lead, his portrayal of Fierro was both menacing and captivating and stood out in a film featuring Hollywood heavyweights Robert Mitchum and Brynner.
His ability to bring depth and nuance to characters set him apart - the portrayal of Rodolfo Fierro in “Villa Rides” was a stellar example. Bronson’s commanding screen presence made him a popular choice for gritty and action-packed roles in the years to come, establishing his legacy as an icon of the genre.
Partners and Soulmates
Jill Ireland frequently shared the screen with Charles Bronson as his leading lady. It's amazing to think that the couple would end up co-starring in a whopping 15 films together. Bronson and Ireland often took their entire brood when filming on location to spend family time on the road.
In addition to their LA residence, they enjoyed visiting a charming colonial farmhouse set on 260 acres in West Windsor, Vermont, where Ireland raised horses and provided their daughter Zuleika with expert training to excel at horse shows. The family often spent their winter holidays at Snowmass, Colorado, during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Europe Loves Him
Charles Bronson gained mainstream recognition in the United States only in his fifties. What most people didn’t realize was that Bronson had been an international star long before. “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape,” might have been commercial failures in the US, but the films were huge box office successes in Europe and Japan.
In Italy, he was affectionately known as "Il Brutto" (The Brute), while in France, he was revered as one of the "monstres sacrés" (sacred monsters), a term used to describe the country's most celebrated and iconic actors. For Bronson, this overseas admiration was more than just financial success, it was a validation of his talent and dedication to his craft.
An International Superstar
Charles Bronson soon became a force in European cinema. While working on the film “Villa Rides,” the producers of the French film, “Adieu l'ami” approached Brosnan. They were looking for an American co-star to appear alongside the legendary Alain Delon.
Bronson's agent, Paul Kohner, later recalled the producer's pitch to the actor, emphasizing that European audiences loved enigmatic actors rather than the stereotypical pretty-boy heroes that seemed to dominate American cinema. The film was a major hit in Europe, catapulting Bronson to an international superstar. Bronson's success in Europe and beyond proved beyond a doubt that he was a legend in the making.