What Romanian democracy looked like under communism, Amza Pellea in Nea Mărin Miliardar: Sergiu Nicolaescu wanted to kick him out

Nea Mărin Miliardar is one of the most appreciated Romanian films of all time, but also the film that put Amza Pellea on the “cinema map” forever.

Basically, it can be said that the actor is now synonymous with his character. It couldn’t have happened that way, since the film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu sold more than 14 million tickets in cinemas in its time. What’s more, TV channels are still rebroadcasting it constantly, even today.

Amza Pellea, in the lead role - Nea Mărin Miliardar (1979)
Amza Pellea, with Sebastian Papaiani and Brandusa Marioteanu – Nea Mărin Miliardar (1979)

Nea Mărin Miliardar, perhaps the most beloved Romanian film of all time

Nea Mărin Miliardar was released on February 5, 1979, under the “baton” of Sergiu Nicolaescu, as I informed you earlier. It should be mentioned that it was made from a script put together by Vintilă Corbul, Eugen Burada and Amza Pellea. As you already know, the main role was played by Amza Pellea, although the actor was on the verge of being fired, but we’ll tell you about that later.

The cast of this film also included other established actors of Romanian cinema: Stela Popescu, Draga Olteanu Matei, Vasilica Tastaman, Puiu Călinescu, Jean Constantin, Ștefan Bănică, Ștefan Mihăilescu Brăila, Sebastian Papaiani, Mircea Albulescu – and others.

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In fact, Amza Pellea is said to have identified with this character so much that his soul remained with the role. Which is why, obviously, being his creation, to a large extent, he would have “held on” to the fact that everything happened the way he wanted it to, which led to conflicts on the set. The character of Nea Mărin would have been a fusion of the actor’s father and one of his cousins. Basically, the image of the Romanian peasant who has arrived in an urban environment.

In the first instance, Nea Mărin Miliardar was a three-act play that was to last about an hour and a half, but materialized into a successful film.

“In collaboration with Vintilă Corbul, Eugen Burada and of course Amza, we wrote a script and brought “Nea Mărin” to the big screen. It was a complete success!”, wrote Sergiu Nicolaescu in his memoirs, according to adevărul.ro.

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Amza Pellea, with Sergiu Nicolaescu – Nea Mărin Miliardar (1979)

Sergiu Nicolaescu wanted to replace Amza Pellea with Mircea Diaconu

Amza Pellea was the only thing missing from making history in this role. Imagine how, in a parallel universe, the lead role in Nea Mărin Miliardar would be played by Mircea Diaconu. Would it have been as successful with the public? Fortunately, we’ll never know.

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The archives of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives contain two files on Sergiu Nicolaescu. These are computer tracking files and include excerpts from a conversation the director is said to have had with Vintilă Corbul at one point.

In this conversation, Sergiu Nicolaescu is said to have complained to Corbul that he did not get on well with Amza Pellea and that the latter would give him “a hard time” on the set.

So the filmmaker threatened that if the conflict was not resolved, he had two options on the table: either to give up on the film or to cast Mircea Diaconu in the lead role instead of Amza Pellea.

Obviously, the film was made, and Pellea retained in the lead role. We don’t know, however, what the real reasons were. There are, however, two variants. In the first, Amza Pellea chose to compromise with Sergiu Nicolaescu, while in the second, the director understood that such a film, without Amza Pellea’s creative genius, was not possible.

After all, as I told you earlier, the character, in itself, is a clear reflection of the reality experienced by the late actor, and the hypothesis that Diaconu would have gotten the lead role is unthinkable.

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