Born in 1964, Italian actress Monica Bellucci has epitomized sensuality in a wide variety of films both in Europe and America, including "Malena" (1997), "Brotherhood of the Wolf" (2001), "Passion of the Christ" (2004), and in the sequels "The Matrix Reloaded" (2003) and "The Matrix Revolutions" (2003). However, Bellucci's talent extends far beyond her physical attributes, as evidenced by her skillful portrayals in "L'Appartament" (1996), "Remember Me, My Love" (2003) and the disturbing "Irreversible" (2002). Like many European actresses, Hollywood seemed to have trouble finding quality projects for her, with such efforts as "Tears of the Sun" (2003) and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (2010) paying more attention to her exotic looks than her abilities. However, she continued to invest herself deeply in a wide variety of projects that showcased the many facets of her talent, including a key role in the James Bond hit "Spectre" (2015).
Daily Sabah conducted an interview with Bellucci on her career and family.
You have played many iconic figures. I wonder if your voluptuous looks and beautiful figure has helped in your career? I assume they have, but also perhaps sometimes they could be considered a hindrance.
Bellucci: I have to say that an actor is like a dancer. Through our bodies, we can express ourselves. And I have to say that I used a lot my body as an instrument to represent souls, different souls. And sometimes my beauty was used by directors to represent the worst things, like in "Malena," like in "Irreversible," films where beauty is there to be destroyed, to represent how the violent the world is. And like Voltaire said, without beauty life is nothing. And sometimes I used my body like if it was an object, like if I was far from the body and it was just an instrument for the movie.
Throughout your career you've worked with amazing leading men. Do you have any memorable stories about any of them that you would like to share with us?
I have to say that I have the very good experience with all those leading men. I have to say that I really loved to work with Daniel Craig, a very generous man, a great actor. He's in "James Bond," but he did also amazing intimate films. And even though he's very polite, he has this masculinity, at the same time he's very shy. And I like that very much.
What do you teach your daughters about values?
My daughters, I have a love story with my daughters. Sometimes I said, because I work, I make two films a year, no more, just because I like to have space between films as I don't want to be an actress for my children, just a mother. Sometimes I say to my children "What do you think girls? Do you think I should stop working and have more time for you?" And they told me, "No, we like that you keep working." So I really try to organize my life to be more a mother than an actress. And it's not a sacrifice for me because I like my job. It's a big passion for me. I am very happy to do what I do, and I know there are so many things to learn. I think it's a beautiful example for children to show that you have a passion in life because I think that what I say to my kids is, "Find something that you like; something that wakes you up in the morning and make you happy to go to work." And sometimes, one of my kids, she loves to sing, and she says, "Mom, there are so many singers." I say: "Yes, but you are you. You come with something that is just your personality. You don't have to say this is better than me, you come with your soul."
I come from a small country so to get into cinema was something that was so far away from my reality. So I went into this work from pictures, but when I was young, when I was 14 or 15, I bought all the books from the greatest photographers and through pictures I went from fashion to cinema. Dino Risi and Francis Ford Coppola saw pictures of me, and then I met those directors and I did my first steps with cinema. But then I had to work a lot because I didn't know much about cinema.
Speaking of children, I would like to ask you about your own childhood. I believe it's very different from the childhood of your kids because it's a different time and you were an only child. What do you remember about this time? When did you realize that you were beautiful?
I think that to feel beautiful, it's not the mirror that makes you feel beautiful. I think it's love. I think that when you have parents that make you feel beautiful, you feel beautiful. If you didn't have this kind of chance, even if you are the most beautiful in front of the mirror, you don't feel beautiful. So I think it's a matter of love. And I think I have to say, my parents were very good to me. And they were young. My mother was 20 when I was born, so I could talk to her about everything. And this was very important for me to have the chance to talk and to say things, not to be scared. And they supported me when I decided to go away. Actually, when I went away my mother said, "I know that you never want to come back," which was true. So even today I have a good relation with them, and I'm lucky that they're still alive. So at the same time, I come from a very simple background. But I want to say to my kids that what is important in life is not to have great houses or private planes, because you can be very sad in the most beautiful castle. So what is important is human relations, and I think we all need that. So, that's why sometimes when they are too much in front of the computer, sometimes I get scared. I'm scared that having this kind of relation with the computer, they don't know how to behave when they are in front of real people. Everything is through fantasy, and they need to get in touch with reality and relate with other human beings.
I was looking at who you are as an actress and as a woman and I thought, "This is a woman who has been loved a lot."
Hated too. Very hated. But hate gives you energy too if you know how deal with it.
You said it is being loved that gives you the power to follow your dreams, but what else is love? How do you recognize love?
Sometimes I didn't recognize. Love is an attitude. In my life, I realized there are people who take energy from love, and there are people that take energy from hate. Those people are very dangerous, sometimes very talented. But it's interesting. It's a big incredible experience when you know how to recognize those people.
You are obviously very successful. How do you define success? What is success to you?
I don't talk about success. I talk about good light. I think that to have light is a big responsibility because when you are in the light, it can give you so much or it can destroy you. It depends on how you use it.