She studied law, became a model, and then starred in many successful movies. Now the multilingual Italian actor Monica Bellucci is making her stage debut as Maria Callas.
Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs, after opening in Paris, toured to Italy, Greece and Turkey. Bellucci was due to perform it at Her Majesty’s theatre in London in December, but Omicron struck. It has now been rescheduled for April.
In 2004, one interviewer called her “a distillation of every Italian perfection”, dwelling on the way “she brushes the cappuccino foam from her lips with the long, unpainted nails of her perfect fingers.”
Monica is glad to find the industry had grown less catty since her days as a full-time model. In an interview with The Guardian she claimed, “The young people are not in competition like in the past, they’re more responsible,” she says. “Categories were also more closed: modelling and acting – they couldn’t go together. It’s not like that any more.”
Bellucci applauded models such as Emily Ratajkowski who are now speaking more freely about what it was like to be objectified as young women. “I started when I was very young, but at the same time, I was going to school. Then, when I moved into film, I was already 25 and independent. I got into the world of cinema already protected.”
She also recalled appearing in a Harvey Weinstein-produced film, 2000’s Malèna, in which she played the object of everyone’s lust in a small Sicilian town. She only dealt with Giuseppe Tornatore, the film’s Italian director. “It was Tornatore who chose me. I think Miramax wanted another actress – more famous than me.” As so often, Bellucci had the last laugh, pulling off one of her many acclaimed performances. “We are in a world of image,” she says, “but the work isn’t about beauty. If it’s just about beauty, you can’t work more than five minutes.”