Monica Bellucci, Magnificent
More on the Italian Goddess
She stripped naked to protest against harsh laws restricting IVF in Italy which are based on Catholic principles, has no qualms about appearing nude, and is an agnostic, but Monica Bellucci agreed to star in Mel Gibson's very Catholic movie, The Passion of the Christ (2004).
The beautiful, free-spirited Italian actress was born in the Italian village of Città di Castello in 1964. She obtained high marks at school and enjoyed her classical studies, so she decided to study law at The University of Perugia. When a friend took her to a modeling agency, Bellucci was signed on the spot. She liked the glamorous life of a model and decided to give up law. She later said that law would have been too boring for her and would not have suited her personality.
Modeling was not challenging enough for Bellucci. She took small roles in many movies, such as La Riffa (1991) and Ostinato Destino (1992), but it wasn't until she played one of Dracula's brides in 1992, that the lovely actress began to be noticed and really decided that this would be her future profession. She left for Paris where many more movies were being made and took acting lessons.
Although Bellucci loves living in Paris, she misses her spaghetti, and sees herself as very much an Italian. "I see myself like any Italian girl because everything is so Italian to me - like the way I love to eat," she told Mark Salisbury, of The Observer.
She shot to stardom as Lisa in the award-winning hit, L'Appartement, and won the César award for Most Promising Young Actress. The César award is the French equivalent of the Oscars. Bellucci is mostly known for her role as the beautiful, but oppressed, Malena in the movie of the same name, however. Here she played a woman trying to be independent in a small Italian village in the 1940's when women were either regarded as wives or mothers. Malena refuses to conform and is troubled by being pursued by men and envied by women. Her only friend is the young boy who falls in love with her. Bellucci said that, "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."
Two films in which Bellucci have played roles have created great controversy - The Passion of the Christ and Irreversible (2004) In The Passion of the Christ, she played Mary Magdalene and spoke Aramaic. Mel Gibson's film was heavily criticized because of its extremely violent portrayal of Christ's life, but the actress defended it, arguing that Jesus's life was violent.
She found acting the part took her on a spiritual journey, although she isn't a Christian herself. She said that: "If there's something I believe in, it's a mysterious energy, the one that fits the oceans during tides, the one that unites nature and beings." (Monica-bellucci.net)
Irreversible was also very violent and Bellucci had to act in a traumatic rape scene. She was advised that she'd never act again, but the actress appreciates difficult roles. She told Mark Salisbury that: "...I can't do these simple French movies of simple Italian movies - even the Passion is something crazy.'
In 2005 she played the Mirror Queen in The Brothers Grimm and in 2006, she was a prostitute in Combien tu m'aimes? Acting the Mirror Queen - a 500 year old, wrinkled woman obsessed with regaining her youth and beauty - made the actress think about growing old. "...We are all victims of vanity in a way, and that's why I think the film is much more than just a special effects film," she told Martyn Palmer of The Times. But she also said that: "I think to be obsessed with youth and beauty is an American problem."
By Lisa-Anne Sanderson