Film critics are quick to compare Monica Bellucci to previous Italian beauties, but she is her own brand of sultry icon. With roles as a topless vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula, a taciturn war widow in Malèna (2000), a charmed courtesan in Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) (2002), and a sci-fi vixen in the Matrix sequels (2003), Bellucci has proved to be a bold blend of earthy and ethereal, actress and star. Born on September 30, 1968, Bellucci grew up in the small Italian village of Citta di Castello, where her father owned a trucking company. At 18, she enrolled at the University of Perugia with plans to study law. To pay her tuition, Bellucci started modeling. Two years later, she dropped out of school to relocate to Milan, where she signed with Elite Model Management. Besides strutting the cat walk in fashion shows, Bellucci appeared in international advertising campaigns for designers such as Dolce & Gabbana. With her modeling career in full swing, she began to take acting classes and made her screen debut in the television film Vita Coi Figli (Life With the Sons) in 1990. After acting in several Italian features, Bellucci graced American screens for the first time as one of Dracula's (Gary Oldman) brides in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which also starred Keanu Reaves and Winona Ryder. She subsequently returned to Italy to appear in the heist film I Mitici (The Heroes) (1994) and the children's movie Palla di Neve (Snowball) (1995). As time passed, Bellucci grew increasingly frustrated with the failure of Italy's film industry to promote its projects abroad. She starred opposite Ben Kingsley and Dominique Sanda in the American television movie Joseph (1995), before looking for work in French films.
Bellucci made her French-language debut in 1996's award-winning romance L'Appartement (The Apartment). She earned a César nomination for her performance in the role, as well as began dating her co-star, French actor Vincent Cassel. The couple (who married a few years later) re-teamed onscreen immediately, portraying comically troubled lovers in the gender-bending romance Come Mi Vuoi (As You Want Me) (1996) and murderous bank robbers in Jan Kounen's infamous thriller Dobermann (1997).
In 2000, Bellucci returned to Hollywood to play Gene Hackman's estranged trophy wife in Under Suspicion. The film's director, Stephen Hopkins, had seen L'Appartement on a transatlantic flight and requested that she star in the thriller. That same year, the actress earned unprecedented worldwide acclaim for her performance as the title character in Malèna. Helmed by award-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore, the film featured Bellucci as a quiet young bride who is left alone in a small Sicilian town when her husband goes off to fight in World War II. Stunningly attractive, she struggles to keep her dignity as she is spurned by the female villagers and preyed upon by the men. Bellucci followed up Malèna's success with another international hit, Christophe Gans' genre hybrid Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) (2002). The stylish cross between period piece and kung-fu flick (which also starred Cassel) was the fourth most successful film of its year in France. After conquering Europe, the film became an art house hit in the States and Bellucci received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress from the U.S. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.
The subject of numerous fan sites and men's magazine articles, Bellucci went on to star as the seductive Queen of the Nile in the comic book adaptation Astérix & Obélisk: Mission Cléopâtre. In 2001, she joined Dracula co-star Keanu Reeves in the cast of the highly anticipated follow-ups to The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). Soon after, Bruce Willis personally chose Bellucci to play a humanitarian doctor whom he must save from war-torn Nigeria in Tears of the Sun, director Antoine Fuqua's follow-up to his hit Training Day (2001). In 2004, Bellucci's momentum continued to build when she starred as Mary Magdalene in The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's self-produced blockbuster retelling of the final 12 hours of Jesus Christ. In the wake of that film's success, Bellucci teamed with two other renowned directors, Terry Gilliam and Spike Lee, with roles in The Brothers Grimm and She Hate Me, respectively.
Meet Monica Bellucci
She's been called the Sophia Loren of her generation, an Italian actress who brings startling beauty and raw talent to the screen.
Monica Belucci, though, isn't so quick to agree with her admirers. She's just happy, the 35-year-old model and actress says, to be working.
In "Malena," Bellucci plays the title role of a woman who becomes the object of a young boy's adolescent fixation and voyeurism. The year is 1942, the place Castelcuto, a village in Sicily; the world is at war, and society in Castelcuto is in turmoil. Through it walks the lovely Malena, trailed by boys on bicycles and the lingering glances of the village's men.
Bellucci was born in Perugia, Italy, and has worked steadily in Europe for the past decade. She's been a virtual unknown in the United States until "Malena"'s release last year.
Bellucci recently spoke with CNN.
CNN: How do you perceive your role in "Malena"?
Monica Bellucci: The story is about a woman who ... is left alone in this small village where everything, and everyone, is run by men. So she's confronted with this male-dominated society, where all the men desire her as an object -- as an animal -- except this young boy who's in love with her and wants to protect her from all the terrible things that happen to her during and after the war.
CNN: There seems to be an interesting parallel between the character of Malena and your life. Would you agree with that?
Bellucci: I would agree, and I can understand Malena for this reason, because I come from a small place. I know what it means to come from a place where everybody knows everybody, and when you walk down the street and men look at you, and the women can be jealous of you. So I know the feeling.
And on the other hand we are very different, because Malena is the product of her era, and I'm the product of mine. This means that I fought all my life to be free and independent. I never wanted to depend on men; and Malena, she doesn't have any identity without men. ...To understand the film, we have to understand the Sicilian mentality of that time, because the woman's place was only as mother or as wife. They only existed for men, and that's why women in the village hated her, and resented her, because she provoked men's desire by being herself.
I think this film is not just a big portrait of a Sicilian village in the '40s, or a portrait of beauty. I think it's a portrait of envy, and how envy can destroy other relationships between human beings.
CNN: Your character, Malena, had very little dialogue.
Bellucci: Yeah. ...If you play piano, you have a piano. If you play guitar, you have a guitar. And if you are an actor, your instrument is your body. You use your body: your face, your hands and your eyes.
CNN: People are talking about you as if you are a new actress, yet you're not really new at all. You've been doing film and television in Europe for many years, correct?
Bellucci: Yes, I've done mostly French films, but they never were released in America, like "Le Pacte des Loups" ("Brotherhood of the Wolf," 2000). It was a very good film, and did so well all over in Europe. ...And through this movie I did "Under Suspicion" (2000), with Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. And for me that was a great chance to work with two of the greatest actors in the world.
CNN: Is it odd for you to hear people calling you a relatively new actress?
Bellucci: Oh no, I mean, (this) is normal. America and Europe are completely different. I know that I'm lucky, because it doesn't happen very often that an Italian movie actress can have a career here. ...I'm very happy to come here with an Italian film, because it's my own identity. And also, I'm European, and I will keep doing European movies, but I also love American movies. I don't want to make an "American" movie; I want to make a good movie. Then, if it's American or European, it doesn't matter.
CNN: At one time you were studying to be a law student. How did you come to acting?
Bellucci: I started as a model, and when I was student I thought I could study and work at same time. And then I started to work so (much) that I left the university. ...Frances Ford Coppola saw me in a picture, and I did "Dracula" (1992's "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), and I was still a model, in some way. So I went back to Europe, I took acting lessons, and I worked a little bit in Italy. Then I went to France, and I've done few movies there. So, life is so strange: You want to be a lawyer, you want to be a doctor, and then life decides for you.
Monica Bellucci's five sences
Herewith, a visual tour of all five senses, guided by Italian film goddess Monica Belluci.
No two honeys truly TASTE the same, it turns out, but, as Bellucci finds, the sticky-sweet bee product is "good for the face, actually." Good thing, as her stunning mug is just about covered with it. She seems to have survived, though, at least enough to have a darling little fish mustache, reminding us that of all the senses, SMELL is most evocative. Although this may be easy for her to say, Bellucci insists that beauty is only skin deep, telling us, "if I SEE a beautiful man, maybe I am surprised for three seconds, but then if I speak with him and he's completely stupid, I don't see his beauty anymore." See? Of course, your favorite sense and ours when it comes to this Mediterranean beauty is TOUCH. "My body is so important to me," she says. "My face, my arms, my legs, my hands, my eyes, everything. I use everything I have." Bellucci also uses all the lung capacity she has in the film Mal èna, the bulk of which she spends in dignified and beautiful silence--only, at film's end, to test the bounds of our HEARING with her shrieks of pain. "People are very passionate in Italy," she explains. "If you like something, you like something. If you hate something, you hate something. When you hate something, you are screaming."
Monica Bellucci: "Irreversible" & "Tears of the Sun"
She may possibly be one of the world's most beautiful women and the screen's most alluring presence. So it is no surprise that Hollywood has come knocking on Monica Bellucci's door, with upcoming roles in the remaining Matrix films, Mel Gibson's Passion and the soon-to-be-released Tears of the Sun. Born in 1968 in the Italian village of Citta di Castello, Umbria, Bellucci originally pursued a career in the legal profession. While attending the University of Perugia, she modelled on the side to earn money for school, and this led to her modelling career. In 1988, she moved to one of Europe's fashion centres, Milan, and joined Elite Model Management. Although enjoying great success as a model, she made her acting debut on TV in 1990, and her American film debut in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Her role in the 1996 French thriller, L'Appartement, (1996), shot her to stardom as she won the French equivalent of an Oscar nomination. Other credits include Mal?na (2000), Under Suspicion (2000) and Le Pacte des loups, (2001). Her latest film, Irreversible, casts her again with husband Vincent Cassel in this uncompromising revenge drama in which she plays a brutalised rape victim. She next will be seen in Tears of the Sun opposite Bruce Willis. She talked about these and her career to PAUL FISCHER.
Question: According to Irreversible, Time destroys everything. Do you agree?
Answer: Yeah, I believe that time destroys everything. You can take one beautiful apple, red. After a while, it becomes shrivelled and full of worms, just like what happens to us [in the movie.]
Question: What concerns did you have with this film?
Answer: I didn't read any script because we didn't have a script. Actually, I wanted to work with Gaspar just because he's so talented and because I've seen his first two movies, Carne and I Stand Alone. I thought this guy is crazy but he's so talented. When he wanted to work with me, I was very happy, I was really thrilled. We started to work with 15 pages of synopsis, nothing else. So, what we did was - you have to be really confident when you work with that. It doesn't happen very often. Never happened to me. So, no script, just I knew the story, and as you can see, the camera keeps rolling for 15, 20 minutes without cutting. So in some way, it was like working in theatre. What we did, we rehearsed and improvised one day, and we would shoot the next day. So, it was a completely new way for me to work but it was beautiful because in cinema, you never have this opportunity to build up the character. The last scene, when I am with my husband, I have time to wake up and to talk. Then I go into the bathroom and I have the shower and then the pregnancy test and I realize I'm pregnant. When can you do this in a movie? Never. You have just one minute, then cut, you have to go to another scene. Here you have time, like in the theatre.
Question: Can you talk about shooting the film's violent sequences?
Answer: In acting process, it's very difficult to explain. It's something very intimate, very private and what I did that day, Vincent asked me, 'Do you want me to stay on set with you?' I said no. So he went to do some surfing in the south of France. I was by myself all day long, in my house. When I arrived on set, it was full, but I rehearsed the scene one day before so I knew very well all the positions because after the rape scene, there are all these violent moments. Those moments are really difficult because if you take something on your head, you're going to die. So, I had to rehearse everything, but how I would shoot the scene, the feelings, I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know what I would have done five minutes before shooting, because it's something, I think you have everything inside you. You just have to find it.
To me this film is like Clockwork Orange. It's like Pi. It's like Requiem for a Dream, Deliverance or Pasolini's movies. All those movies that are so difficult to digest but there is something, there is meaning. You felt so disturbed when you watched those movies because those movies go deep inside you and then you have to see the monsters we have inside.
Question: It looked as if the rape scene took one take?
Answer: We did six takes. Each take took 15, 20 minutes because I have to come out from the house, meet the prostitute, speak with her, go to the tunnel inside, be witness of the fight and then the rape scene. It takes 20 minutes.
Question: Talk about working with husband, especially with the intimate scenes.
Answer: Vincent was so incredible, so sweet. When we went to Cannes for the film, you know the moment when I come out from the tunnel and we see me for the first time completely with blood all over, he was crying. I said, 'Vincent, come on. It's just a movie. We know it's not real.' But just because it's filmed in such a realistic way, it looks almost like a snuff movie. And to work with him for me is amazing. We know each other very well. To have this kind of intimacy with someone that you don't know is much more difficult. To work with your husband, of course we used some aspects of our relationship, but it was just a springboard for inspiration. The rest was acting.
Question: Can you compare making Hollywood movies to those in Europe? Is it a different work ethic?
Answer: It's different. It's completely different, but for me, even when I'm in Tears of the Sun, I'll do my best for the performance. I try to be real, I try to be deep and strong. Sometimes it's more difficult to exist as a female lead, especially in action movies because all those men are around you. They take so much place. But I did my best and I was lucky because the character comes out strong. " Every time is different. I don't think I want to do films like Irreversible every day because it takes so much out of me. You have to give so much. For me, it's great. All my choices are a bit strange. Also in Malena, I have strong scenes like that. In Tears of the Sun I'm dirty and full of mud all over and I have tears all the time, it's so deep.
Question: For Tears of the Sun, was it fun to get so grimy and dirty?
Answer: Fun, I think that in this movie, there's not so much fun in this movie. It was difficult to be in the jungle for five months and also, I think, for women, and not just me, for me and all the other women in the film it was difficult to be there with just men around and also, I think that sometimes, it's difficult to have the perseverance to exist as a character when you're a female in the middle of all those men and I think that I was very lucky because actually, Antoine [Fuqua] and Bruce [Willis], they give the possibility for this character to exist and that doesn't happen the time in action movies.
Question: How did you hear about this role and what made you want to do it?
Answer: Actually, I met Bruce one year ago in Paris and I think that he saw 'Malena', my film, and he thought about me and then, I met Antoine and they both told me about the movie and what it was about and I received a script and I liked it and then, we were all together and we talked about the script and the story, and also, I liked a lot the approach, how they gave me the space to be free and to say thing about my character. Actually, because we had so many Doctor's Without Borders"actually, my character takes inspiration from those doctors and these doctors often go into active war zones to assist, not only medically, but also, to help with basic needs like irrigation and helping the community, and also, for me, it was an important story because it takes place in Nigeria where there's constant ethnic violence in all those different tribes, the massacre and retaliation for centuries of hate and war, and it was important for me to do a character that was as strong and passionate about the African people she was responsible for and I saw so many documentaries about it. I met many Doctor's Without Borders and they're really heroes, incredible and also, I liked the moment when, in the film, it's me and Bruce because those two characters are really so different. I'm there because I follow my heart and I follow my passion and he's there because someone told him to be there. He follows orders. So, we have two characters at odds with each other and through adversity and circumstances, we change. So, it's like an evolution for everyone. Me, I changed, and he changed. So, it's so human, and that's why this film is much more than an action movie. There's so many things going on, so many feelings.
Question: What's something about Bruce Willis that we don't know?
Answer: I don't know what you don't know, but what I can say about him is that I respect him very much because for me, he's not just a movie star, but he's an actor who takes risks in his choices and with me, he was really, really generous and I remember one scene he was off camera and it was a very emotional scene and he cried for me and he had tears in each take. So, I mean, that doesn't happen all the time especially with movie stars. So, with me, he was really, really generous and Antoine too. Antoine, I mean, for me, I'm European and so for me to come into this country and have the possibility to work with really young and talented directors like the Wachowski Brothers, like Antoine is great because Antoine has a really great vision and he works very instinctively, but at the same time, he knows exactly what he wants.
Question: Is this character far from you personally because I sense you to be very glamorous and this character is not?
Answer: She's not. Even 'Irreversible' is not glamorous at all [Laughs]. You know, I mean, I try to do different things because I want to grow as an actress and I like to take risks and that's why I move from a film, that's so different, like 'Irreversible' or 'Tears of the Sun' or 'Malena' or 'Matrix' or the film that I just finished with Mel Gibson two days ago, 'The Passion' where I play Mary Magdalene. So, all of those characters are very different, and you know, it's great as an actress to work in many countries, different cultures, and it's also a beautiful experience as a human being because, I mean, it's such an incredible experience to meet all those people, completely different, from all different cultures.
Question: What are some of the things that you like about the U.S. and some of the things that you don't?
Answer: What I like about it is the energy, there are so many things going on here. Everything goes so fast compared to Europe, but then, when I got to Europe, all these things relax me a lot. I'm European, and so, when I go back and see all this beauty around me, of course, I love it, but you know, it's good to be here too. So, I like both. Of course, I'm European, and so for me, it's important for me to stay there and do European films and never am I going to refuse European films, but it's also good to come here once in a while, but I'm not ready to do an American movie just because it's American. I turned down so many things because even though they can be huge, successful movies, just because it's not my kind of thing, and you know, I follow what I feel.
Question: What do you dislike about America?
Answer: I don't know America very well because each time that I come, it's for five days or I'm shooting or I do some appointments and then, I go back. I've never been here for five or six months and really have the chance to get into it. So, it's just in a superficial way. I know that when I come here, I get skinnier and my heart goes so fast, and I don't walk, but I run. Everything, so many phone calls and so many things to do"when I'm in Europe, if you have an appointment at one o'clock, it can be one thirty. Here, if it's one o'clock, it's one o'clock. So, everything is different.
Question: How is the mood on a set like Irreversible different from than, say, a 'Matrix'?
Answer: You know, I'll tell you, when you're in front of the camera, for a small budget movie or a big budget movie, there's no difference. When you're in front of the camera, you just play and I think that also the language. I think for an actor, it's more important, an actor works with their soul and their thought and the language comes.
Question: You started out as a lawyer?
Answer: You know, a lawyer, liar. The same, right? It means that I think the lawyers are such incredible actors. Can you imagine the performance they have to do every day. So actually, it was maybe the same thing. A performance in court or a performance on set.
Question: What can you say about your involvement in the Matrix films?
Answer: In Matrix, I can't say very much. All I can say is she's not like Lena Kendricks. She's very sensual, she's very mysterious and she's very dangerous. She's in control, so she's not a victim.
Question: How was it to do an action film?
Answer: I have my way to do action. I don't jump on the wall, I don't fight, but I have another way to fight.
Question: Did you have any reservations joining an established cast?
Answer: It's great because those people, I mean, Carrie-Ann Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves were so nice to me. I had a really great time and actually all my scenes are with them, so they really were so nice.
Question: Do you know the mythology of Persephone?
Answer: Yeah, she was the daughter of Zeus and she was kidnapped by the kind of the underworld, in Hades and she was allowed to come back into the living world. This is very, it says a lot about my character, Persephone, but I can't tell you about it [Laughs]. She's very mysterious and sensual, more glamour, but dangerous, very dangerous.
Question: Is 'The Passion' more of a historical or spiritual story?
Answer: It's going to be both, both, and I think what Mel Gibson wanted to do is really a strong visual movie and I've seen a few things and what I've seen looks really, really beautiful and it's like a painting.
Question: How would you describe Mel Gibson as a director?
Answer: Mel is a great director because he's not just a director, he's an actor, so he knows how to direct actors. I loved working with him. He's great as a director. He's so picky, so intelligent. He's generous. I really loved him.
Question: You speak Latin without subtitles?
Answer: Yeah, but I think that the concept is going to be like a silent movie. When you see a silent movie, you understand everything that's going on from the images because the images are so strong and I think that this film is going to be the same, the concept is there. So, everyone knows the history of Jesus. So, when you're going to see what happened, you've heard about him so many times that you'll understand what's going on. So, sometimes, words are too, how do say, small to express all the concepts and I think that's what the vision of the film is. The film is going to talk more than the words.
Question: Did you speak any English in it?
Answer: No, everyone, all the actors, even Jim Caviezel who plays Jesus speaks just in Latin.
Question: How hard was it to learn?
Answer: It's a mix of Hebrew and Arab, and it's not just language.
Question: Is there a lighter side to you that you would maybe want to do a comedy?
Answer: Oh, I have nothing against comedy. In France, I've done one comedy called 'Asterix' that came out last year. It was a big, huge comedy and just, you know, I'm looking for different things. I mean, it can be in a comedy, it can be in a drama, it can be in a thriller, it can be anything, film noir. Actually, I'm looking for the right thing. For me, the most important thing when I make a choice is a director and then, a script. If you have a script that's not great, if you have a great director, you can make a great movie, but if you have a great script with a director who's not good, never, never are you going to have a good movie, even if the script is great. So, for me, the most important thing is the director and their vision.
Question: Do you believe in premonitions?
Answer: I believe that we have a natural instinct which is very strong. Just we don't know ourselves enough. And I think that if we get into it and we try to understand all we have inside, we can find all the power we have. I'm sure that we have the power also to see things, but it's going to happen in many, many years.
Question: What do you see for yourself?
Answer: Me? I knew that this would happen. No, oh my God. It's a great moment for me, but I know that it won't be like that forever. I know that I'm going to get old, I'm going to die, I'm going to see people that I love die before me because they're older. I know that I have to get through all those horrible things in life. Time destroys everything.
Question: What are you passionate about beside your work?
Answer: Life [Laughs]. You know, I mean, like everyone, I love to go out and be with friends and be with family and go to some movies and read and just have time for things.
Monica Bellucci Talks About "Remember Me, My Love"
“Remember Me, My Love” is writer/director Gabriele Muccino’s sensitive drama about the lives and loves of an Italian family. Fabrizio Bentivoglio stars as the family’s matriarch, Carlo, a man who’s torn between his love for his wife, Guilia (Laura Morante) and a passionate affair with the beautiful Alessia (Monica Bellucci).
Was there ever any talk of having you play the wife instead of Alessia?
No, but you know what I like about Alessia? I like that in this atmosphere, an atmosphere that is very chaotic and very hysterical, she’s the only one who has both feet on the ground. And she’s in control, she’s very mature. She knows what she wants and that’s why I like her very much.
Is it hard playing in such emotionally intense movies?
Yes, because the film, in general, is full of emotions because there is a lot of passion all over. Every character is full of passion. And you see really well the Italian identity because we all yell a lot, which is typical of Italian people. We yell by phone and we yell all the time. The film is very simple. No special effects, it’s just a simple reality, every day life in Italy.
Is that more difficult for you than the physical intensity of “Irreversible?”
Oh, it’s very refreshing. It’s refreshing because “Irreversible” was such a strong film and very intense. To play just a simple woman who has simple problems in some ways- - okay, she has many problems because she gets divorced and she has two kids and she doesn’t love her husband anymore and, you know, there are problems, but compared to “Irreversible,” this is nothing. And “Irreversible” was really difficult shooting, but interesting, very interesting.
Is adultery perceived differently in Europe than it is in America?
You know, I don't know actually. I’m so curious to see how the film is going to be received in America. In Europe, it was a successful movie and in Italy it was very successful because there are very interesting subjects for the Italian society. We see the concept of the family falling apart, and the concept of the family in Italy is something very, very important. We see how sometimes it’s difficult to mature in life as a person, while you’re living as a couple, because sometimes one or both have to give up their personal lives, their dreams, ambitions for the good of the family. And there is a moment in the film where my character, Alessia, says to Carlo, her lover, she says, talking about her husband, she says, “My husband destroyed everything I was. Destroyed my personality. And now that I’m different, now that I’m changed, he doesn’t want me anymore, he doesn’t love me anymore.” So maybe there is something missing in our nature as human beings. I don't know. Actually, it was Oscar Wilde who says that each man kills the thing he loves. Maybe there is something in our nature.
Then there was another scene in the film that was very interesting, about the reality TV, and the desire to become famous for being famous, and how the TV gives today’s youth the possibility of doing this. Because, you see in the movie, there’s this young girl and she’s ready to do everything to become famous. And I think this is something that touches every country - America, Italy, France, England, all over. You will see all these people, they don’t know how to sing, they don’t know how to dance, and still they become famous. You know, just celebrities. And I think this is a very dangerous process.
But that’s why I wanted to do the film because when I read the script, I saw all those different and interesting subjects. I think that Gabriele Muccino is one of the best, talented directors right now in Italy. He knows exactly what he wants and he knows how to work with actors. And so for me, I’m Italian, so for me it’s important to go back to Italy once in a while and to make Italian films with my language.
Did you feel you had to go back to Europe after spending so much time in Hollywood?
Actually, it’s very funny because I work in Hollywood but I never stay in Hollywood. I don’t have a house. I just have my agent and when I come it’s just because they have to shoot. So, I don’t need to live in America to work in America. And I know that I’m very lucky to have the possibility to stay in Italy, to work with directors like Tornatore, Gabriele Muccino, and then come to France and work with Gaspar Noe who did “Irreversible” with me. And then come to America and work with directors like Mel Gibson or the Wachowski Brothers or Spike Lee and Terry Gilliam. I know that I’m very lucky.
How do you feel about the American perception that you’re this ultimate, foreign, exotic beauty?
I have no idea how I’m perceived in America because I don’t live the reality of America. You know, I come there just when I have to promote a movie or when I
have to shoot, but I don’t live the everyday life in New York or Los Angeles. So for me, I really don’t know what to say. I can say that when I come to America what I like is the energy. There is an incredible energy. And there are very good movies because if I think about “Magnolia,” “American Beauty,” then you have “Spider-Man” and then you have “Lost in Translation,” this is what [I like]. All those different possibilities. And I know that when I make an American movie, I know the film goes everywhere, all over the world. And for an Italian movie or French movie, this is more difficult to have an international opportunity. But still, as a European, I need to stay in Europe and I make Italian movies, French movies. Then [to] come to America is something interesting for me. I’m not ready to make an American movie just because it’s American. I need to find the right project and the right character.
Monica Bellucci: Malena
Do you think "Malena" is about jealousy?
Yes, but also envy. Envy is human nature. Everything in this film is not just a portrait of a Sicilian village during the 1940s or a portrait of beauty, but I think it's a portrait of envy and how envy can destroy relations between human beings. In this case, it was beauty, but it could've been anything else. To be beautiful was just a metaphor here.
Has beauty ever been a handicap for you?
It is a handicap if you're stupid, but not if you are intelligent and know how to use your beauty. I feel fine and comfortable with myself, but not because I'm beautiful. I know many beautiful people and their lives are just so terrible. They feel so uncomfortable with themselves. Being comfortable is not about what you look like, but how you feel. I'm a lucky person because I've been loved a lot. I have a great family.
What was the challenge in making "Malena" for you, bearing in mind you have few words in the film?
The idea of the film was a challenge. I wanted to see if I could make this part exist just by a body. It was possible to do it. There's so many things that come out of "Malena". I learned how a body could speak. Acting is not words. Holly Hunter didn't speak in "The Piano", and she won an Oscar. It's the film that Guiseppe Tornatore wanted to direct. You just contribute the performance.