In a rare and revealing interview, the Hollywood icon opens up to PEOPLE about her life now, her successes and struggles in Hollywood – and a few of her most memorable onscreen love interests like Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Steve McQueen, and whether or not they had affairs offscreen.
Despite their undeniable chemistry as rebellious robbers without a cause, Dunaway and her Bonnie and Clyde costar Beatty never dated. “We both knew it would be the end of the relationship onscreen,” she says. “It’s a bad idea. You get very confused. It’s why doctors don’t operate on their families. You don’t want to carry that personal luggage onto the set with you when you’re trying to do a great job.”
During the filming of Chinatown in 1973, Dunaway grew close to Nicholson, whom she says was “one of a kind.” Nicholson would bring the actress (along with a group of friends, including Jack’s then-girlfriend, Anjelica Huston) to his favorite Mexican restaurant to drink margaritas off-hours, but they did not sleep together. “You get close because they’re damned attractive people,” she says. “But he was with Anjelica at the time and he wasn’t going to stray from her.”
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Dunaway calls her Thomas Crown Affair costar, Steve McQueen, her “favorite.” “I loved the way he’d pull his vest down, so confident and cocky and vulnerable at the same time,” she says. “But nothing happened offscreen because “he was with Ali [MacGraw] and he wanted her barefoot and pregnant the whole time, as I recall.”
Still, she admits, “There were certain attractions to a couple of people – not too many, but maybe Jack and Warren. Warren at the time was in full bachelorhood, but Steve was happily devoted to somebody and I wouldn’t mess around with something like that even if it were offered, but it wasn’t.”
Of Johnny Depp, her costar in 1992’s Arizona Dream, Dunaway readily admits: “He’s just so sexy and adorable,” she says. “He was much younger than me, and we played lovers. I’m sorry about these problems that have come up in his life, but he’s a prince.”
Later in life, she costarred with Marlon Brando in Don Juan de Marco. “He was so alive in every moment,” she recalls. “I remember him showing up on set in this large terrycloth bathrobe, [like] he had just got out of bed. I don’t know if he’d even had coffee. The weight was a problem of course, but it didn’t seem to bother him.”
Dunaway had her real-life loves too, of course. She had a three-year affair with then-married Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, whom she left after he refused to divorce his wife. “I was deeply in love with him,” she says. “He was a man like no one I’d ever met before, and he made me feel deeply protected.”
Her first husband was J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf, to whom she was married from 1974 to 1979. “It was very emotional, our connection,” she says. “And those rock-‘n’- roll concerts, everyone was [chanting] ‘Wolf, Wolf,’ it was great!” She wed photographer Terry O’Neill in 1983, with whom she had a son, Liam Dunaway O’Neill, now 36. They divorced in 1987.
At 75, she is still open to dating. “I’m very much a loner,” she admits. “I always think I would like to have a partner in life, and I would – if I could find the right person, I think.”