Monica Bellucci is an absolutely stunning woman (in more ways than one). Though it may be hard to believe, she’s even more radiant in person than she is on film. And on top of that, she’s ridiculously charming. So much so that it made every male reporter (maybe even some of the ladies) go a bit gaga just being in her vicinity. Nevertheless, the sumptuous Italian actress was very open and very enthusiastic to discuss all things film, including her aspirations as an actress and where she exactly sees her place in this crazy town of Tinsel.
Also note that I really hate Vincent Cassel… you lucky bastard.
The Brothers Grimm (read Devin’s review here) hits theaters this Friday, August 26th.
Q: To take someone as stunningly beautiful as you are and then turn you into a shriveled prune… what was that like?
Bellucci: Pssh. It was very hard work. [Laughs] No, I’m kidding. Actually it was fun. And challenging for me as an actress to have the possibility of playing the duel role of the old queen and the young queen, even though the make-up and all was very hard. But in the end when I saw the movie, I was really shocked because even though I knew the script, when I saw the final product, I said "My God." Even though it was so hard, the final film is so beautiful. I mean, I love fairy tales. And in the film, you can find many references to the Grimm fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty, which is one of my favorites, and Hansel and Gretel. And they’re put together to make a new tale that’s a combination of fantasy and fear and that’s where we recognize the Terry Gilliam trademark like in Brazil or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, one of my favorite movies. To work with Terry is just so incredible for an actor. I don’t know about America, but in Europe, Terry Gilliam is considered a genius. He knows what he wants, and at the same time, he discovers what he wants from actors while directing them and is challenged by the unexpected. So you have to be ready as an actress. Also, I love to play evil. Because in life we think we’re in control when we’re good. But being evil is relaxing. The possibility of being so horrible, you know? That’s why it’s good to be an actress once in awhile. [Laughs] In the film, I play this queen that casts this spell of immortality over herself, but unfortunately for her, she forgets to ask for eternal youth and beauty as well. So, she’s in bad shape when she’s 500 years old. [Laughs] And behind all fairy tales, there’s always meaning. This film, I believe, is a metaphor for anyone who believes their image is who they are, and when that image or myth is destoryed, the person gets destoryed along with it. I think it’s a good movie for all of us, but especially for actors because we are the first victims of vanity.
Q: How was it making the transition from a model to an actress? Was that easy for you?
Bellucci: It wasn’t easy at the beginning because people didn’t take you seriously. Which is normal, actually, because to be a model is completely different from being an actress. Pictures are stiff, but film is life. Two completely different things. I know it doesn’t happen very often that a model can become a good actress, so I know I’m very lucky to have that possibility with Italian directors, French directors, American directors, etcetera.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your make-up process in Brothers Grimm?
Bellucci: It was horrible. [Laughs] It was really horrible. Hours and hours of make-up to make that transformation. And it’s incredible because you have all that make-up that you don’t really see it until the end. When I saw the special effects, I was so surprised. It’s incredible.
Q: And what did you think the first time you saw yourself in the old queen’s make-up?
Bellucci: I said, "Oh my God. Never am I going to be that way!" Maybe when I’m 70 I’ll look like that. [Laughter] I hope not!
Q: Reading the script, you knew you had to go through all that make-up.
Bellucci: Well when my agent called me and said, "Terry Gilliam wants to meet you," I was ready to do anything. I was just so happy to work with him. And when I read the character’s part, I just fell in love with it.
Q: You have a film coming up with Gérard Depardieu, correct?
Bellucci: Yeah, I did a film with Gérard. It started back in February and we finished in May. The film is going to come out in October.
Q: What are you playing?
Bellucci: A hooker. [Laughs]
Q: What’s the title?!
Bellucci: Combien tu m’aimes? Which means, "How much do you love me?"
Q: Are you an evil hooker or a good hooker?
Bellucci: I’m a… sweet one.
Q: And who’s directing that?
Bellucci: Bertrand Blier.
Q: Aren’t you also doing a historical drama about Napoleon?
Bellucci: Yes, I’m going to do an Italian film first, but when I go back, I’m going to do it with a French actor named Daniel Auteuil who will be playing Napoleon. I will be playing a countess. The film is by an Italian director named Paolo Virzì. And then I’m going to do an American movie in January… a beautiful one, but I can’t say anything right now. [Laughs] You’ll know soon.
Q: Do you think you look at roles differently now that you’re a mother?
Bellucci: No. You know, I’m an actress. I’m still crazy.
Q: Do you think you’ll feel compelled to make a kids movie that you know you’re child will be able to enjoy?
Bellucci: I think [The Brothers Grimm] is great for kids. It’s scary, but good. Life is scary. And you know, that’s why we love fairy tales… they’re beautiful but scary. And kids love to be scared.
Q: I think we don’t usually give kids enough credit when it comes to that. We tend to always want to protect them when that’s not always what’s neccessary.
Bellucci: You want to protect them but, you know… I’m Italian so you can imagine. I’m worse than a Jewish mother. [Laughs] And the only thing worse than a Jewish mother is an Italian mother. [Laughter]
Q: You have a track record of working with directors that are very passionate about their work. Is that something that you consciously look for when picking a role?
Bellucci: Well when I make a movie, I have to believe in it. I mean, I spend an average of 3 months at a time making movies. You have to give a lot. Whether the film is going to be successful or not, nobody knows. But when I’m there, I need to feel that the director really believes in his project. It’s a big moment in your life. I can’t make films for the money. For me, it’s impossible.
Q: Do you think you’ll work with Giuseppe Tornatore again?
Bellucci: I hope so! I mean, he didn’t do any project after Malèna. He wanted to do this very big project that would’ve cost so much money, but instead, he’s going to do something small that will begin shooting very soon.
Q: Has there ever been the temptation to spend more time here and really attack Hollywood and become more apart of this system?
Bellucci: I don’t think you need to attack Hollywood. They’ll attack you. They know where you are. They know I’m in Europe. And it’s funny because I met Terry Gilliam in Prague, Spike Lee in Paris, Mel Gibson in Rome, and I come here just to do meetings. I don’t think I need to leave Europe if I wanted to work in America, you know? I’ve been offerred work over here while I’m in Europe but I think it’s important for me to keep doing European things. I’m very happy when I come over with work like Malèna or Irréversible or Brotherhood of the Wolf, and when I’m here I do nice things too! It’s fine that way for me. I’m a European actress, not a Hollywood actress. And I’m never going to be because I’m not… I look different, I sound different… and I have to find the right approach each time. And it’s fine that way.