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Monica Bellucci


Monica Bellucci


Monica Anna Maria Bellucci (Italian: [ˈmɔːnika belˈluttʃi]; born 30 September 1964) is an Italian actress and model who began her career as a fashion model before working in Italian, American and French films. Bellucci has an eclectic filmography in a range of genres and languages, and her accolades include the David di Donatello, Globo d'oro and Nastro d'Argento awards. In 2018, Forbes Italy named Bellucci one of the 100 most-successful Italian women.

Bellucci was represented by Elite Model Management and modelled for Dolce & Gabbana campaigns. She made her acting debut in the Italian television miniseries Vita coi figli (1991); she went on to play one of Dracula's brides in the horror film Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and then enrolled in acting classes. After appearing in Italian productions, she had her breakthrough role in the The Apartment (1996), for which she received a César Award nomination for Most Promising Actress. Bellucci came to the attention of American audiences in Under Suspicion (2000) and gained greater international recognition as Malèna Scordia in Malèna (2000). Bellucci starred in the period drama Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) and the comedy Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002). She portrayed a rape victim in the controversial thriller Irréversible (2002), and Persephone in the 2003 science-fiction films The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

Bellucci was praised for her portrayal of Mary Magdalene in the drama The Passion of the Christ (2004). She played a prostitute in How Much Do You Love Me? (2005) and Shoot 'Em Up (2007), and acted in diverse roles in other films, including The Whistleblower (2010), The Ages of Love (2011), and The Wonders (2014). Her role in Ville-Marie (2015) earned her the Dublin Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Actress. At the age of 50, Bellucci appeared in the James Bond film Spectre (2015), becoming the oldest Bond girl in the history of the franchise. She later appeared in films such as On the Milky Road (2016) and The Man Who Sold His Skin (2020). Bellucci's television appearances include the series Mozart in the Jungle (2016) and the original French version of Call My Agent! (2018). Bellucci made her stage debut in 2019 as Maria Callas in Letters and Memoirs.

Bellucci starred alongside her second husband Vincent Cassel in on-screen partnerships that spanned ten years. She has remained involved in modelling, and worked as a brand ambassador for luxury brands such as Cartier and Dior. Some media outlets have labelled Bellucci a sex symbol. Bellucci received the knight insignias of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2006 and of the Legion of Honour in 2016. She represents Italy as a permanent member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Early life

Monica Anna Maria Bellucci was born in Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy, on 30 September 1964. Her father Pasquale Bellucci owned a trucking company, and her mother Brunella Briganti was a housewife and amateur painter. Monica Bellucci is an only child because her parents did not want another. Bellucci grew up in Selci-Lama, in the comune (municipality) of San Giustino on the banks of the Tiber River.

Bellucci received a Catholic education. She was an "intelligent child". According to her father, she was discreet and increasingly interested in fashion, and grew up "surrounded by love". Bellucci was introduced to modelling at age 13 when she posed for a photographer friend-of-the-family in Città di Castello. She was distant from other children her age and regularly made detours to get home after school, and did not spending time with them in the comune's public space. Bellucci's father said she complained everyone stared at her. Her father helped her to gain self-confidence.

Bellucci developed a taste for cinema, watching films by Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Marcel Carné and Jean-Luc Godard. Bellucci has said her personality largely reflects her upbringing: "Certainly a lot of positivity also depends on the climate in which my parents raised me".

Modelling career

1980s and 1990s

At age 16, Monica Bellucci was asked to pose for photograpy sessions by her father's friend, the director of a fashion agency. Having begun her modelling career at 16, Bellucci periodically travelled to Milan and Paris while continuing her studies at Città di Castello. According to Bellucci: "I approached the adult universe very early" because she worked with models ten years older than herself. Bellucci said: "Modelling came to me naturally, and I loved pictures. I loved the world of image".

While hitchhiking, Bellucci met Piero Montanucci, a hairdresser from Città di Castello, who persuaded her to become his model. Bellucci, a student at the liceo classico, attracted attention wherever they went due to her striking appearance. She was considered a local model. Bellucci studied philosophy, literature, Latin and Greek. In 1983, Bellucci was dressed by Città di Castello-based fashion entrepreneur Pina Alberti and modelled at a fashion show at the Teatro degli Illuminati, the city's municipal theatre, as part of an event called Momento Donna, which Maria Giovanna Elmi hosted. Montanucci, her mentor at the time, accompanied Bellucci to the event. While in high school, Bellucci's father's friend allowed her to debut on the catwalk during a fashion show in Florence and at another in Milan.

Bellucci studied law at the University of Perugia, aiming to become a lawyer. She financed her studies by working as a model through her father's friend. After a friend of Bellucci encouraged her to apply to modelling agencies during her studies, she moved to Milan, one of Europe's fashion centres. Modelling agent Piero Piazzi saw Bellucci's arrival at the Elite Model Management agency and thought she could have been an actress. Piazzi had been critical in his assessment when he first saw Bellucci in 1987, telling her she was "not ready". Between 1988 and 1989, Elite signed Bellucci to a contract. In 1988, she featured on the cover of Elle France, photographed by Oliviero Toscani, and Vogue Spain.

Bellucci's work as a model for Elite required her to travel so she decided to leave university; she later said being a lawyer would not have suited her. She appeared in numerous international advertising campaigns, and Dolce & Gabbana recruited her as their muse. Bellucci's physical attributes aligned with the image the founders of Dolce & Gabbana wanted to portray. In 1989, Bellucci lived in New York and was already a millionaire. She was the Italian model the fashion world vied to have. As a model, Bellucci was represented by Elite, and she worked in Milan, Paris, and New York.

In 1990, the French luxury house Dior used Bellucci's image and name for its Haute Couture line. She was photographed by Richard Avedon, and became the "protagonist" of Dolce & Gabbana's campaigns, "which elevated her to an icon of Mediterranean beauty". She also appeared in fashion parades for the luxury fashion house Fendi. In 1991, Bellucci was the brand ambassador for the cosmetics company L'Oréal. The same year, Bellucci appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which featured photographs of her in the Caribbean. Bellucci also appeared in advertisements for Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and other luxury brands. In 1992, Bellucci combined her work as a model with her acting debut. In 1993, she first met Giuseppe Tornatore when he directed her in a television advertisement for Dolce & Gabbana perfume.

Bellucci opted to follow her passion for cinema, turned to acting and stopped modelling full-time, although she remained active in the industry. The Italian luxury company Breil appointed Bellucci its brand ambassador and she starred in advertising campaigns. In the 1990s, Bellucci regularly modelled for calendars, beginning in 1997 at the age of 33 when Avedon photographed her for the Pirelli Calendar. In 1997, Bellucci became the brand ambassador and muse of Cartier jewellery. Nina Hald of the Danish newspaper Berlingske said: "Cartier chose for the first time to associate an actress closely with the house". Cartier accompanied Bellucci throughout her acting career, notably on red carpets, where she wore haute joaillerie (high jewellery) collections, and she worked as a model for opulent creations. Italian fashion photographer Fabrizio Ferri photographed Bellucci for the magazine Max's calendar.

2000s

Monica Bellucci posed for the GQ calendar in 2000 and was photographed by Gian Paolo Barbieri. In 2004, while pregnant with her first child, Bellucci posed nude for the Italian cover of Vanity Fair in a protest against Italian laws that restricted access to in vitro fertilisation. In the same year, Bellucci's status as the only actress who was contractually bound to Cartier was made public. In 2006, she was named brand ambassador for Dior and the face of a range of products until 2010. Cartier designed a collection of luxury diamond jewellery that was inspired by Bellucci's private commission and bore her name. It was first presented at a Cartier event in Dubai in 2007.

2010s and 2020s

Monica Bellucci's appearances in television advertisements include Martini Gold, a collaboration between Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, in 2010. She again posed semi-nude whilst pregnant for the cover of the April 2010 issue of Vanity Fair Italy. Cashmere goods manufacturer Éric Bompard appointed Bellucci as its brand ambassador for its winter 2011/2012 advertising campaign. In 2012, Bellucci was the face of an eponymous range of Dolce & Gabbana lipstick. She appeared in other seasonal fashion campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana. She was signed to Storm Management in London and D'Management Group in Milan.

Bellucci was chosen as the face of German cosmetics manufacturer Nivea for its 2018 and 2019 campaigns. In June 218, Bellucci appeared in a fashion parade for Dolce & Gabbana when she opened the second day of Milan Fashion Week. According to Stefano Gabbana, Bellucci returned to the catwalk for the house for the first time since 1992. She also appeared on the catwalk for Dolce & Gabbana at the early 2019 Milan fashion week, along with Helena Christensen, Eva Herzigová and Isabella Rossellini, who joined the influx of 1990s supermodels returning to the fashion spotlight.

Bellucci remained the "muse" and ambassador of the Cartier brand in the 2020s. Since 2000, Bellucci has appeared on national and international covers of Elle, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Maxim, Paris Match, Schön!, The Sunday Times Style, Vanity Fair, and Vogue, among others.

Acting career

1990–1999: Early roles and breakthrough

In 1990, Italian director Carlo Vanzina noticed a photography of Bellucci in a magazine and recommended her to Dino Risi who was looking for a "new face" for his television miniseries Vita coi figli. Bellucci had never envisioned becoming an actress, and was surprised to be chosen for a role. Bellucci made her acting debut in Risi's Vita coi figli, a two-part television film broadcast in Italy in May 1991, where she played Elda. That same year, she made her film debut in La Riffa, directed by Francesco Laudadio. In 1992, Bellucci played one of the three brides of Dracula in the horror film Bram Stoker's Dracula. Initially, Roman Coppola spotted her in the Italian magazine Zoom and then implored his father, Francis Ford, to offer her a role in his film. Francis Ford Coppola called her to arrange a meeting in Los Angeles while she was in New York for a photo shoot. Discussing with Coppola, she realised she would embark on an acting career. Although she stayed in Los Angeles during filming at Coppola's request, she was apprehensive about the city and, by her own admission, believed that her English needed improvement. She decided that her subsequent work as an actress would be in Italy. Her role as a "sensual vampire" exposed her to the international audience for the first time.

Following her minor role in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Bellucci returned to Italy, where she enrolled in acting classes to realise her ambitions. "I craved it ... I needed to act", she said, even though she recalled a challenging period while all her friends were leaving the faculty. Bellucci had to overcome, not without difficulty, the prejudices related to her modelling and her physical appearance, and had to work to establish her credibility. She starred in Italian films for the next four years but was ultimately dissatisfied due to the lack of opportunities, and she aspired to an international acting career. Bellucci nevertheless played in the Emmy-winning biblical television miniseries Joseph (1995). In her view, the Italian film industry needed to invest more money to promote films internationally. Bellucci eventually moved to France in anticipation of improved career prospects. She settled in Paris in 1995.

Her portrayal of Lisa in The Apartment (1996), a "moody" French film noir, earned Bellucci a César Award nomination for Most Promising Actress. This launched her towards stardom in France and strengthened her position as an actress. It was her first French-language film. Gavanndra Hodge of The Sunday Times stated that her "break-out role" was in the European arthouse film The Apartment. BBC's Almar Haflidason used the terms "seductive" and "startling" when referring to the film, giving it a top rating of five stars. Bellucci's second French release was Jan Kounen's Dobermann (1997), in which she portrayed a mute Gypsy and had to learn sign language beforehand to embody her character. Recalling the filming process, she expressed an inclination for mise-en-scènes (stage settings) "that pass more through bodies than through words". At this point in her career, she made a significant impact on European audiences. Pierce Brosnan performed a screen test with Bellucci for the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), then pressed that she be given the role of Paris [Carver], but the studio stated that only an American actress could be cast. For her leading role as Giulia Giovannini in the Italian comedy-drama L'ultimo capodanno (1998), Bellucci received a Globo d'oro Award for Best Actress. The Apartment later won a British Academy Film Award for best film not in the English language, prompting film director Stephen Hopkins to take a close interest in Bellucci.

2000–2003: American films, Malèna, and Irréversible

In 2000, Bellucci caught the attention of American audiences with Hopkins' Under Suspicion, her first English-language lead role, in which she starred opposite Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. Hopkins cast Bellucci after observing her perform in The Apartment and then retained her ideas for creating the character of Chantal [Hearst]. Journalist Garth Pearce commented in The Times on her improved spoken English. Under Suspicion was selected as one of the 2000 Cannes Film Festival's closing films, marking her red carpet debut at the annual event. After the film's release, Freeman said, "It's all there in her eyes. She has this quality that reminds me of Jeanne Moreau. There is a sense of having been there, that she's had a life." Variety listed Bellucci among "the ten young actresses to keep an eye on".

Bellucci returned to Italian cinema, portraying Malèna Scordia, an enigmatic, envied and coveted World War II widow whose life unfolded before the captivated eyes of a 13-year-old boy in the Tornatore-directed film Malèna (2000), which took place in Sicily. Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas said the film emphasised the seductive appeal of the film's protagonist, Scordia, to whom Bellucci gave an "heroic" portrayal, delivered with a few lines of dialogue. Writing for The Guardian, Mark Salisbury considered Bellucci's portrayal in the Oscar-nominated film as her "breakout performance". She began to become known to global audiences thanks to Malèna. Malèna was Bellucci's first international success and, in addition to her allure, caused her to be "besieged by offers" from Hollywood when Miramax secured the film for US distribution. For the US release, ten minutes of explicit erotic scenes from the film were censored.

Bellucci starred with Samuel Le Bihan and Vincent Cassel in Christophe Gans' Brotherhood of the Wolf, a 2001 French period drama film based on historical events involving the beast of Gévaudan that decimated the population of Lozère in 18th-century France. The Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter found the film's stylistic approach too dense, obscuring Bellucci's "fabulous natural asset", who played an "underused" role as a courtesan–papist spy. The film elicited positive responses from other critics. Brotherhood of the Wolf was a box-office success in France, where it attracted five million viewers to movie theatres and grossed US$70 million worldwide, including $11 million in the US, against a budget of about €32 million. The film earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 2002 Saturn Awards in Los Angeles. The filming of Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002) was one of Bellucci's favourite cinematographic experiences, with its light-hearted and comic atmosphere with Jamel Debbouze. She portrayed the "prickly" Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, in the comedy film directed by Alain Chabat. The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw wrote that she was "certainly talented enough ... to merit getting the role of Cleopatra in some serious treatment", but before then, had to perform in a "funny mainstream commercial" French production. The film was a great success, selling 14 million tickets in France at the time of its release and grossing more than $128 million worldwide.

In 2002, Bellucci co-starred with Cassel in Gaspar Noé's "violent" arthouse thriller Irréversible. Shot on 16 mm with hand-held cameras, the revenge film depicted Bellucci playing Alex, who was seen being graphically raped for nine minutes without a break in an underpass; a scene she had to shoot four times. Bellucci's "indelible scene" was filmed in an underpass frequented by prostitutes on the outskirts of Paris. Bellucci and Cassel, a couple at the time, were some of "the country's biggest talents". Audiences at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival were outraged during the midnight premiere of Irréversible, with some characterising it as "unsustainable". Lisa Nesselson of Variety thought Bellucci showed "responses to peril and joy particularly memorable". Subsequently, the film has been studied in film schools. Noé said he "has never seen an actress so charismatic ... with that much guts ... her performance is incredibly audacious". K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone called Irréversible "one of the most controversial movies ever".

In 2003, Bellucci played Alessia in the Italian film Remember Me, My Love, directed by Gabriele Muccino, which earned her the Nastro d'Argento for Best Supporting Actress. Bellucci co-starred with Bruce Willis in Antoine Fuqua's Tears of the Sun (2003), an action-adventure film set in a civil war in Nigeria. She played the role of doctor Lena Kendricks, working for a humanitarian organisation within a village threatened by rebels. Film critic David Denby of The New Yorker felt that some of Bellucci's scenes were exaggeratedly stylised but praised the film's visual prowess. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan lauded Bellucci's "fierce" portrayal of Kendricks, who also possessed a "stereotypically fiery temperament". Tears of the Sun garnered mixed reviews from critics and was a box-office disappointment.

Bellucci successively portrayed the character of Persephone in the two 2003 science fiction films, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. She described her character as "dangerous, sensual with some sense of humor", recalling fond memories with Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, and Keanu Reeves throughout the filming process in Australia. Film critic Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer gave The Matrix Reloaded a positive review, grossing $742.1 million worldwide against a budget of $150 million. Alongside its release, she appeared on the Rolling Stone Spanish edition cover. The Merovingian, played by Lambert Wilson, once again accompanied Bellucci as her husband in The Matrix Revolutions. The film received mixed reviews from critics. Nonetheless, it grossed $427 million against a production and marketing budget of $185 million.

2004–2007: The Passion of the Christ and career progression

In Rome, before filming Tears of the Sun, Bellucci was notified that a Mel Gibson's film about Jesus Christ was in the works and asked to meet with him for the role of Mary Magdalene. Her agent advised her against making this film due to its potential failure, as its distribution was undetermined at the time. However, Bellucci ignored his suggestion and turned down another film. Gibson chose her because they "liked each other". She aspired to create an interpretation of the character that would be "strong and deep", even though no one believed the film would succeed. Eventually, Bellucci played an expressive Mary Magdalene in Gibson's drama The Passion of the Christ (2004), which depicted the final hours of the life of Jesus Christ. The film feature dialogues in Aramaic and Latin languages that she had to learn expressly. The New York Times film critic A. O. Scott said she was the only "exception" to the "absence of identifiable movie stars". Expressing a similar opinion, Le Monde considered that in the film portraying a "fundamentalist" view of the Gospel, Bellucci stood out the most from the cast list. Film critic Paul Clinton wrote that she "is excellent as Mary Magdalene". Catholics, meanwhile, objected to Bellucci playing the Magdalene. Film critic Roger Ebert described The Passion of the Christ as "the most violent film I have ever seen", adding he was "moved by the depth of feeling, by the skill of the actors" and gave a rating of four stars out of four. Overall, critics were divided in their response to the film. The Passion of the Christ was a major commercial success, with a worldwide gross of over $611 million against a budget of $30 million.

On 2 July 2005, Bellucci was awarded the European Golden Globe for cinema at Rome's 45th Globo d'oro ceremony. She emphasised that she appreciated acting in both American and European films. In Terry Gilliam's fantasy adventure film The Brothers Grimm (2005), Bellucci played the 500-year-old Mirror Queen, starring opposite Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Gilliam would later say, "[i]mmediately she comes on-screen, it seems to me the whole film lifts up into another realm, a realm of sex and sensuality and danger". San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle opined that she convincingly portrayed her character whose centuries-old age appeared to him to be discordant with her "allure". She also voiced Cappy for the French version of the 2005 animated film Robots. Bellucci had a leading role in Bertrand Blier's French romantic comedy How Much Do You Love Me?, a film which also starred Gérard Depardieu. She portrayed Daniela, the most beautiful prostitute in Pigalle, Paris, to whom a lottery-winning office worker offered to pay her to live with him. A journalist at Le Monde wrote that it was "a hymn to the beauty of Monica Bellucci" and that it was neither Blier's best film nor his most failed. Nesselson commented that she was optimally used in the film as she stimulated the spectator's senses and intellect.

In 2006, Bellucci starred alongside Daniel Auteuil in Paolo Virzì's period comedy-drama Napoleon and Me. She portrayed baroness Emilia, who had a turbulent relationship with the character named Martino, played by Elio Germano, in the film depicting Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile to Elba from 1814 to 1815. Author Mark Feeney remarked that she did not take "things too seriously" in the film. Bellucci said she declined to play a role in the blockbuster 300 and oriented herself towards the film d'auteur (auteur film) The Stone Council. She was selected, after the initial announcement of Sophie Marceau, for the lead role in the thriller The Stone Council, adapted from the novel of the same name by Jean-Christophe Grangé. The film differed by character names as the book's heroine was Diane Thiberge, whereas Bellucci was Laura Siprien, a tormented adoptive mother confronted by killers who wanted her child. Sébastien Le Fol of Le Figaro wrote that she "delivers one of her best performances on the big screen" with a muted sex appeal. Her hair was cut short for the film, a preference of French cinema hairstylist John Nollet, who had worked for her on the sets of Brotherhood of the Wolf and Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.

Bellucci starred opposite Paul Giamatti and Clive Owen in Michael Davis' action thriller Shoot 'Em Up, released in the US in September 2007. She portrayed Donna Quintano, who teamed up with Owen's character, Mr Smith, to protect a baby amid a bloody settling of scores. Playing a prostitute again, albeit with a different approach than in How Much Do You Love Me?, Bellucci would say she felt empathy for female sex workers, who she believes retain "faith in humanity". She was fond of this sort of paradox and sought to highlight this virtue in her portrayals of characters of all types but noted that she could explore the opposite spectrum. Richard James Havis of the South China Morning Post writes, "It's the latest in a slew of extreme roles". She dubbed her own voice for the French and Italian releases of Shoot 'Em Up, saying it was a frequent practice for her to accomplish each film three times.

Bellucci continued to work in French film productions and starred alongside Auteuil in Alain Corneau's The Second Wind, a remake of the critically acclaimed Jean-Pierre Melville's 1966 gangster film of the same title. She portrayed Manouche, a tenacious character enamoured of a gangster who escaped prison. Bellucci had the idea of dyeing her hair blond to adhere to the style of film noir main characters played by French actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. Thierry Jousse, a critic for Libération, wrote that Bellucci was alone in a "fatally virile" context, but she managed to get through it "to the point of becoming the spectator's compass and the flesh of a film that sometimes lacks it". In November 2007, Le Monde reported on the commercial failures of The Second Wind and The Stone Council.

2008–2017: Continued international work

Bellucci felt a "visceral" need to play regularly in films from her native country. Thus, in 2008, she starred in Marco Tullio Giordana's Wild Blood and co-star Luca Zingaretti. The historical panorama examined the fate of Luisa Ferida and Osvaldo Valenti, a couple of leading actors during the Italian fascism period, portrayed respectively by Bellucci and Zingaretti. Author Barry Forshaw called Bellucci "charismatic", and author Gino Moliterno praised her performance as "extremely powerful". Next, Bellucci played Alba in the Italian film The Man Who Loves, where she was enamoured of Pierfrancesco Favino's character, Roberto, through a cinematic flashback.

On 5 March 2009, she received the World Actress Award at the Women's World Award in Vienna. That same year, Bellucci co-starred with Marceau in the thriller Don't Look Back, a sequel to In My Skin, both directed by Marina de Van. The film depicted Marceau's character seeing changes around her and noticing her body transform into Bellucci's. J.B. Morain of Les Inrockuptibles said that Bellucci's physical attitude and "attention to others have never been so well filmed". Variety's Derek Elley described that she "looks elegant and mystified", although both film critics stressed the clumsily written dialogue. She reunited with Reeves in Rebecca Miller's romantic comedy-drama The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), featuring Winona Ryder and Robin Wright. Bellucci portrayed Gigi Lee, the former wife of a successful publisher, Herb, played by Alan Arkin. She next appeared in a cameo role in Tornatore's autobiographical film Baarìa, a family saga traversing several generations and shot in Bagheria, Sicily.

In 2010, Bellucci portrayed Laura Leviani in Larysa Kondracki's biopic drama thriller The Whistleblower, primarily filmed in Romania and depicting a vast human trafficking network discovered in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999. Hélène Delye of Le Monde described Bellucci's character as a "grizzled, stubborn, insensitive civil servant". The Whistleblower received a mixed critical reception. Bellucci shot three films in seven months including, Giovanni Veronesi's The Ages of Love, Philippe Garrel's A Burning Hot Summer, and Bahman Ghobadi's Rhino Season. In the third segment of the comedy The Ages of Love, an anthology film released in 2011, Bellucci starred opposite Robert De Niro, a divorced American art history professor living in Rome who fell in love with her character, Viola. De Niro was delighted to collaborate with Bellucci, saying she had "worked her magic" on him and admitting that he had accepted the role because he wanted to play alongside her. It was filmed two months after the birth of Bellucci's second child. A scene based on improvisation showed De Niro doing a striptease in front of Bellucci, which echoed in reverse a sequence of the 1963 film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, where Sophia Loren performed it for Marcello Mastroianni. For her role in Rhino Season (2012), she learned to speak Farsi (Persian), the Iranian language. Journalist Helen Barlow of SBS Australia said Bellucci "brought her natural poise and grace" to the character and "surprises with a stoic minimalist performance".

In 2014, Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders featured Bellucci as Milly Catena, host of the Countryside Wonders televised contest. In the film, combining autobiographical aspects and fiction, her character is depicted in a pagan priestess style, wearing elaborate clothes with ancient figures surrounding her. Critically acclaimed, The Wonders won the Grand Prix Award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, Bellucci had the leading role of Sophie Bernard in the Canadian drama film Ville-Marie directed by Guy Édoin. The film traces the journey of Bernard, a European actress visiting Montreal for a film shoot and trying to reconcile with her son. Bellucci stated Édoin had offered her "one of the most beautiful roles" of her career and described a stimulating fear of embodying Bernard's character that had affected her emotionally. The film garnered generally positive reviews, and Bellucci's performance was unanimously praised. For her portrayal of Bernard, she received the Best Actress Award from the Dublin Film Critics' Circle at the Dublin International Film Festival.

At 50, she became the oldest Bond girl ever in the James Bond film franchise, playing Lucia Sciarra in Sam Mendes' Spectre (2015). She was initially sceptical about Mendes' project, but he argued that a mature woman in a James Bond film would be innovative. She felt gratified to have been the first to portray a role she defined as a "James Bond lady". Spectre was released to mixed reviews from critics. The British press responded more positively. The film grossed $880 million worldwide against a $250–300 million production budget. Guy Lodge of Variety called Bellucci "One of the most restlessly globe-trotting stars in world cinema", who does not want national borders or age brackets to dictate her filmography. In 2016, Bellucci had a guest role in the third season of the American comedy-drama streaming television series Mozart in the Jungle, an adaptation of the memoir Blair Tindall's Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, portraying Alessandra, an opera singer and latest collaborator of New York symphony orchestra conductor, Rodrigo, played by Gael García Bernal. Variety's Nick Vivarelli labelled her the "Italian actress with international star power".

Bellucci portrayed Nevesta in the film On the Milky Road (2016), a romance set during the 1990s Bosnian War whose lead role was played by the film's director, Emir Kusturica. Reflecting on the film and her other cinematic experiences, Bellucci says, "I decided to be an actress, not a politician, I recount political choices through my artistic choices." Kusturica asked her to learn all her dialogue in the Serbian language to interpret her character. She had to adapt to challenging production conditions in a "land of beauty and violence", with Kusturica suffering "great [mental] pain" during filming, which spanned four summers. The Hollywood Reporter's Neil Young felt the Golden Lion-nominated film's approach lacked nuance, while Bellucci performed "admirably well" and kept her "dignity intact" in a physically demanding role. Her performance in the film earned her the Nastro d'Argento europeo (European Silver Ribbon Award), held on 1 July 2017 at the ancient theatre of Taormina in Sicily. In 2017, Bellucci appeared in the third season of Mark Frost and David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks. The same year, Bellucci received the honorary Donostia Award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.

2018–present: Recent career

In 2018, Bellucci had one of the leading roles in the Australian comedy science-fiction horror film Nekrotronic, playing a necromancer and demonic soul-eater. In his appraisal of the film, Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter appreciated that she portrayed her "diva" character through an "operatic camp-vamp" performance but was less enthusiastic about the plot, believing her acting style would be best suited to films by Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro. Also in 2018, she appeared in the third season of the France 2 comedy television series Dix pour cent, playing herself with self-mockery, a well-received show initially renamed Call My Agent! after its Netflix purchase. In Claude Lelouch's The Best Years of a Life (2019), a film set in Normandy, Bellucci had a cameo role as Elena, the daughter of Jean-Louis Duroc, portrayed by Jean-Louis Trintignant. The film garnered positive critical responses.

Following his documentary film Maria by Callas (2017), writer and director Tom Volf proposed to Bellucci his project based on his book, Maria Callas: Lettres & Mémoires, containing the writings of opera singer Maria Callas. As a one-woman show directed by Volf, Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs is a narrative form of letters recited by Bellucci alone on stage and wearing two dresses that had belonged to Callas, thus making her theatrical debut at the Marigny Theatre in Paris held from 27 November to 6 December 2019. She would perform it intermittently over the years. In 2020, Bellucci starred in the role of Soraya in the Oscar-nominated The Man Who Sold His Skin, directed by Kaouther Ben Hania. Time film critic Stephanie Zacharek ironically opined that Soraya was a "frosty, willowy blond" acted by "a deviously silky-smooth Monica Bellucci". Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs visited European theatres, including Venice's Teatro Goldoni and Athens's Odeon of Herodes Atticus, with an orchestra that attracted 4,000 people each night.

In 2021, Bellucci received a David Special Award for her career achievements at the 66th David di Donatello ceremony. She co-starred as part of an ensemble cast featuring Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce in Martin Campbell's action thriller Memory (2022), in which she played Davana Sealman, an unscrupulous real estate magnate. She was initially interested in the duality of the antagonist's persona she would play and wanted to extricate herself from typecasting based on her physical appearance, which had been assigned to her recurrently in her life. Entertainment Weekly critic Leah Greenblatt deemed Memory "wrapped in leaden dialogue and B-movie cliché" with Bellucci appearing "blasé". In 2022, she brought Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs to Her Majesty's Theatre in London, Chatelet Theatre in Paris, and Istanbul and Los Angeles.

In January 2023, at 58, Bellucci performed the play at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Recalling Irréversible, Bellucci told The New York Times in 2023 that her "days of acting in transgressive movies are behind her" as she is a mother. In 2023, Bellucci entered talks to star in Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. She will play Delores, Beetlejuice's ex-wife and the movie’s villain. She won the Nastro d'Argento Award for Protagonist of the Year in Documentaries 2024 for her interpretation of Callas in Letters and Memoirs.

Other activities

Film industries

Bellucci was mistress of ceremonies at the 56th Cannes Film Festival, presiding over the opening and closing ceremonies held on the Croisette from 14 to 25 May 2003. From 17 to 28 May 2006, she was a jury member at the 59th Cannes Film Festival. In 2009, Bellucci signed a petition alongside filmmakers from Europe and the US and 70 other industry names to support film director Roman Polanski, who had been arrested on his way to the Zurich Film Festival due to his 1977 sexual abuse charges. She returned to her role of mistress of ceremonies at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, in charge of opening and closing one of the major international film events, which took place from 17 to 28 May 2017. In 2017, Bellucci was invited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be a permanent member representing Italy, becoming one of the voting juries responsible for awarding the annual Academy Awards (Oscars). From 26 to 30 September 2018, she chaired the judging panel of the 29th Dinard British Film Festival. Bellucci was to be chairwoman of the 15th Crystal Globe Awards, scheduled for 14 March 2020 at the Wagram auditorium in Paris, but the ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charities and patronages

In 2008, Bellucci supported a fundraising campaign in favour of a centre for children with cancer located in Prima Porta. It was initiated by the Associazione Genitori Oncologia Pediatrica (Association of Parents in Pediatric Oncology), also known as AGOP, created by parents of children with cancer and leukemia at the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome. In 2010, Bellucci became patron of Paroles de Femmes (Words of Women), an apolitical and secular French association promoting equality between men and women in society. In March 2010, she organised the Nuit des Femmes (Women's Night), bringing together female politicians, researchers, doctors, lawyers, writers, painters, and business leaders to assess the evolution of women's rights in France. The funds raised went to construct centres for accommodation, reintegration and support for single mothers in precarious situations. In 2010, Rizzoli and La Martinière Groupe published a book prefaced by Tornatore retracing Bellucci's modelling and acting careers through photos taken by photographers such as Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton. All proceeds from the book's sales were donated to AGOP and Words of Women. She donated €10,000 to the City of Cannes for a solidarity campaign to support recovery efforts caused by the deadly floods of October 2015 in the Alpes-Maritimes. Bellucci is also a patron of the SOS Autism France association.

Foreign relations of Italy

Corriere della Sera's Stefano Montefiori commented that Bellucci is regarded as a sort of ambassador of Italy to the French population. She has been involved in state dinners chaired by the president of the French Republic and organised as part of foreign heads of state visits. On 21 November 2012, Bellucci attended the state dinner hosted by French President François Hollande at the Elysée Palace in Paris on the occasion of the visit of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and his ministers. On 5 July 2021, she was invited to a state dinner hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace in honour of Italian President Sergio Mattarella and his daughter Laura.

Public image

In 2001, Bellucci was featured nude with caviar on her breasts on the cover of Esquire's Desire issue. In their reviews of Malèna (2000), Thomas wrote in the Los Angeles Times that she "has the impact of the great Italian stars", and Paul Tatara of CNN International called her a "world-class bombshell". In 2002, AskMen named her number one on the "Top 99 Most Desirable Women". She was featured in Empire's "Sexiest Women" list. In 2003, Chris Campion of The Daily Telegraph stated, "'La Bellucci' is Italy's national sweetheart and an icon of European cinema". On 23 November 2004, Bellucci pressed the button triggering the Christmas illuminations of the Champs-Élysées avenue consisting of 45 km (28 mi) of electric garlands descending from the Place de l'Étoile towards Place de la Concorde, in the presence of the First Deputy Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Bellucci was the first-ever foreign public figure invited by the City of Paris and the Champs-Élysées Committee to inaugurate this annual celebration. Bellucci was voted the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" in 2004 and 2007 based on an Ipsos survey of 1002 people in France commissioned by TF1.

Paris' Grévin Museum unveiled a wax statue of her in April 2005. In The Times, Pearce called Bellucci "arguably the world's most beautiful actress", suggesting that she has, by contrast, the propensity to specialise in playing "[u]gly scenes", exemplified by the rape scene of Irréversible (2002). Salisbury wrote in The Guardian in 2005 that she represents an "international object of desire" and "[i]n person, as on screen, Bellucci radiates a rare, otherworldly beauty." Based on the criteria of her projected image and her work for Cartier, Kommersant described her as the "type of diva whose fame depends little on her roles". In the words of Blier, she is "completely relaxed with her image and with her own sense of modesty as well". Blier compared her to "Ava Gardner, the stars of yesteryear". On 9 May 2008, L'Obs reported on a survey of 1,003 people conducted by the Superior Audiovisual Council as part of Europe Day, where Bellucci was the second of the European personalities (excluding France) favourite of the French.

In 2011, Bellucci was ranked fourth in Los Angeles Times Magazine's list of the "50 most beautiful women in film". She was voted number one on NRJ 12's "100 sexiest stars of 2011", a nationwide survey conducted in France that featured American and French actresses, models, singers, women athletes and television presenters. In 2012, Bellucci said she has never undergone cosmetic procedures: "I don't like the idea of having my face retouched and, frankly, I think it's quite dangerous for an actress. ... Compared to a plastic face, I prefer wrinkles." On 10 April 2016, the Karin Models agency, representing Bellucci, opened an official Instagram account for her. A photograph taken by Fred Meylan in 2016 showing Bellucci naked, swimming on her back in a pool, was censored by Instagram with body parts hidden in yellow.

Christophe Narbonne of Première wrote: "Behind the advertising muse, the image of the (re)incarnated Italian diva and the globalised sexual icon, we sometimes forget Monica Bellucci the out-of-norm actress, collector of a pile of international cult auteurs". De Morgen wrote that "most roles fit Bellucci like a glove", while Christophe Carrière of L'Express said that others of "variable geometry" compose her filmography. In 2018, she was named among Forbes Italy's "Successful women: the 100 winning Italian women", listed alphabetically. Bellucci's physical characteristics have led her to be included on all-time beauties and sex symbols lists compiled by magazines such as Esquire Japan and Men's Health in the US and Australia.

The press refers to her as a style "icon". Associated with the wearing of high-value jewellery and an "unwavering commitment" to Cartier, but also to Boucheron and Chopard, Naomi Pike of British Vogue referred to her as "A Modern Day Liz Taylor". Dressed in diamonds, "few contemporary Hollywood stars can rival Italian actor Monica Bellucci", said Pike. Federico Roberto Antonelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute in China, said that "everyone dreams of Malèna's Monica Bellucci" in the country. In 2021, Vogue France ranked her fourth of the "most beautiful Italian actresses of all time". She is considered an Italian sex symbol by the media. Rolling Stone Italy included Bellucci in its "10 greatest sex symbols of the 1990s" list, in no particular order. She takes a "peaceful" attitude towards ageing and mainly believes in pasta, wine, and a little Pilates for her "beauty regime", not being addicted to exercise and dieting. In 2023, Bellucci said it "didn't bother" her having been "objectified" during her film career and was aware that she had made the most of her body for specific roles. Elisabeth Vincentelli wrote for The New York Times in 2023 that she has achieved a "reputation as a symbol of European glamour and sophistication" that is "firmly established".

Giuseppe Zanotti Luxury Sneakers

Personal life

Bellucci's first marriage was with Italian photographer Claudio Carlos Basso. In a 2006 interview, Bellucci said she met Basso in 1987 when he recruited her for a photo shoot. She was 23, and he was five years older. They married on 3 January 1990 in Monte-Carlo. They divorced a year later.

Bellucci was in a relationship with Italian actor Nicola Farron for several years. Farron said they met in 1990 on the set of Vita coi figli. He described "an overwhelming passion". Their relationship became unstable because other men increasingly lusted after Bellucci. The couple separated in 1995.

Bellucci and French actor Vincent Cassel met in 1995 on the set of their film The Apartment. They married at the beginning of August 1999 in Monaco. Bellucci and Cassel have two daughters, Deva (born 12 September 2004) and Léonie (born 21 May 2010). Their daughters were born in Rome. Film critic Jason Solomons wrote that Bellucci and Cassel were "the golden couple of European cinema." The couple acted in nine films together between 1996 and 2006. In March 2013, Bellucci reflected on the evolution of their marriage when the two often lived separately in Italy, France, Brazil and England. The couple's separation by "mutual agreement" was announced on 26 August 2013. They later divorced.

In October 2013, Bellucci said that she had almost always been in a relationship since her first boyfriend at the age of fourteen.

Bellucci was in a relationship with French sculptor and former model Nicolas Lefebvre. They had been dating since 2017. Lefebvre, then aged 36, and Bellucci made it "official" in early March 2019 during a Chanel show at the Grand Palais in Paris. She told Italian magazine F about the end of their relationship, which was reported by other media in early July 2019.

In February 2023, Paris Match reported that Bellucci and American filmmaker Tim Burton were a couple, a relationship originating in October 2022. In June 2023, she confirmed her relationship with Burton. They made their first public appearance at the Rome Film Festival in October 2023.

Besides the Italian language, Bellucci is fluent in French and English and proficient in Portuguese and Spanish. After her divorce from Cassel, Bellucci lived with her daughters in England, France and Italy. By 2015, she decided to reside in France. Bellucci said, however, that "I am entirely Italian. Everything about me is Italian" and acknowledged that "Paris is part of my history". Bellucci said she votes in Italy, not France. She does not have French nationality. She owns houses in Rome and Lisbon, and in 2023, she purchased a villa on the Greek island of Paros.

Bellucci has emphasised that she has moved away from her religious roots: "I come from a Catholic religion, but I'm not Catholic". She has called herself an agnostic.

Bellucci faced a French tax authorities investigation in 2018 for non-declaration of a safe and bank accounts in Switzerland linked to an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. They attempted to recover French tax years 2011 to 2013 because they suspected tax evasion, although her lawyer stated she lived in the UK and not Paris. In September 2021, Bellucci said being "up to date with my tax obligations both in France and abroad". The results of the investigation into her Swiss bank accounts remain undisclosed. Consequently, she was named in the Pandora Papers, published in October 2021, a massive data leak from offshore entities of high-profile figures.

In 2018, Forbes valued Bellucci's wealth at $45 million, ranking her as the third richest of Italian actors and actresses.

Acting credits and accolades

Bellucci has developed her acting career by alternating low-budget arthouse and auteur films with big-budget blockbusters within the European and American industries.

Bellucci received honours from the French and Italian governments. In 2006, French Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy conferred her with the knight insignia of the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2016, French President François Hollande presented her with the knight insignia in the National Order of the Legion of Honour at the Elysée Palace. In 2020, Mayor Dario Nardella awarded Bellucci the Key to the City of Florence.

Notes

References

Sources

External links

  • Monica Bellucci at AllMovie
  • Monica Bellucci at Fashion Model Directory
  • Monica Bellucci at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Monica Bellucci at IMDb

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Monica Bellucci by Wikipedia (Historical)



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