Los Angeles: Celebrated Italian theatre and film actor-director Giorgio Albertazzi has passed away in his native Tuscany. He was 92.
Albertazzi, considered one of his country's greatest actors, died on Saturday, said The Hollywood Reporter.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi remembered him in Venice as "a great Italian" and "an artist who was classical and progressive simultaneously."
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said, "With Giorgio Albertazzi we have lost one of the foremost artists of the theater and contemporary Italian cinema. His interpretations of the great classics remain a milestone in the history of entertainment."
Describing his theatrical body of work, Mattarella called Albertazzi "a maestro and a point of reference for generations of actors and directors."
Known for his looks and powerful stage presence, Albertazzi debuted in 1949 with director Luchino Visconti and went on to work with Italy's most renowned directors including Franco Zeffirelli, growing to national fame in the 1960s.
He continued to collaborate with Visconti, narrating his classic "Le Notti Bianchi" (1957), starring Marcello Mastroianni.
Albertazzi was a master of Shakespeare and known for roles including Hamlet, Henry IV and Othello on stages throughout Europe.
He may best be remembered for playing Roman emperor Hadrian, a role he took on over 1,000 times in an adaptation of Marguerite Yourcenar's "Memories of Hadrian".
He identified with growing old through the role, which he first took on at age 66 in 1989, and performed for several decades.
He also turned the role into a 2007 film directed by Matteo Raffaelli. "He was the greatest Italian actor. The public knew that very well, and perhaps he, too, was conscious of having the task of being the last of the greats," said Gigi Proietti of the actor, who directed Albertazzi onstage in "Falstaff".
"But always with the desire to experiment, never to be obvious. Directing Albertazzi was like playing a Stradivarius."
Albertazzi also appeared in more than 40 films throughout his career, as well as several Italian television miniseries including "L'idiota", "Vita di Dante", "Jekyll" and "Philo Vance".
He is best known in the US for Alain Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad", the hypnotising romance he starred in with Delphine Seyrig.
His last film, "La Sindrome di Antonio", directed by Claudio Rossi Massimi, is slated to release this year. He is survived by his wife, Pia de Tolomei.