Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. As a child, what do you remember about Fairy Tales?
A: We all grew up with fairy tales. My favorite one was
Sleeping Beauty, maybe because of the Prince. All little girls
are waiting for a Prince.
This is what I liked about the movie. In the film there are so
many references to all the Grimm Fairy Tales. It’s like
all these Fairy Tales came together to make a new tale, which
is a combination of fantasy and fear. Because of that, we can
recognize the Terry Gilliam trademark. If you think about Baron
Munchausen and Brazil, you can see the same amazing world.
Q. It does seem ironic that these stories are filled
with fear and death and yet children are exposed to it at such
an early age...
A: But they love that. Children love to get scared. They
need fantasy and dreams, just like us. When you tell the story
of Little Red Riding Hood, they love the wolf and getting scared.
We all love that because it is about our curiosity. Beyond each
fairy tale is a meaning and that is why it is interesting.
This is not a film filled with just special effects. It is cultivated
and very intelligent and for me, it is a metaphor. Look at my
character. She is an evil Queen who casts a spell on herself for
immortality. But she forgets to ask for eternal youth and beauty
There is a metaphor in that for anyone who believes in their image;
anyone who believes that their image is who they are. If the image
of that myth is destroyed, then that person gets destroyed along
with it. That is why this film is so perfect. We are all victims
of vanity, especially actors.
Q. Here you are a beautiful woman who has to distort
that image to play a 500-year-old woman...
A: This was interesting. It was a challenging part because
of the dual role of the young Queen and the old Queen and I had
to play both forces. I had so much to do and it was fun. The make-up
process was hours but in the end, when you see the final work,
I was so surprised to see what I looked like. It was very strong.
Q. When you first looked in the mirror and saw yourself
as the old Queen, what do you think? Did you see yourself in there?
A: I am never going to be that way. I will never be 500
years old but at the same time, it was fun. I walked around but
no one recognized me. It was relaxing.
Q. How much does a director like Terry Gilliam challenge
you as an actor?
A: Terry has such an imagination. He is like a baby full
of fantasy and he knows what he wants. At the same time, he realizes
what he wants from actors when he is directing them. He is challenged
by the unexpected and so you have to be ready as an actress.
He wants so much from you. He comes on set and will tell you how
much he likes your work, now do the opposite. He is looking for
ideas and so you have to be ready for improvisation. I love that
and to work that way.
Q. What are your own thoughts about eternal beauty?
A: It is impossible. I do think it is more a problem
for American actresses. It is more Hollywood obsession than European
In Europe, we have so many actresses like Charlotte Rampling and
Catherine Denueve and Sophia Loren still play sexy characters
that are their own age. Here, it is so strange. After a while,
even young and beautiful actresses don’t work anymore.
Q. Let’s look at the morals of Fairy Tales. Is
it healthy to teach young girls that one day their Prince will
A: Yes. We need to dream. If we don’t dream, we
cannot live. It is not just for children. It is for us as well.
We need to believe in something. We need that.
Q. Had you ever met Matt
or Heath before?
A: I had never met either before. It is so funny because
sometimes in the business you have to have an empathy with someone
who you don’t know and I didn’t know Matt. I had scenes
where I had to kiss him and really be in touch with him with this
sensuality, when you play like that with someone you don’t
know you really need to have a good partner.
He was so easy and generous that it was really easy to work with
both of them. I think they both did an incredible performance.
Sometimes when you do a film with special effects, there is no
chance for the actors to play. They are just objects of the movie
and they don’t have the possibility to act. This movie was
the opposite. There are so many special effects and fantasies
going on, but we had the possibility to play a strong character.
Q. While this film is a fantasy, what is your own relationship
to the supernatural? Do you believe in any of it?
A: I think we all need magic. As we never know what will
happen next, you could get a phone call and have to go to Japan
or someplace else. So I believe in magic of the moment.
Q. Growing up in Italy, can you put it in perspective
having this international movie career?
Sounds like that was magic..
A: The situation I live in is very strange. I am a European
actress who mainly works in Europe but comes here occasionally.
It is very strange.
I know that I am European and it is difficult for Europeans to
find good characters here because we look and sound different.
I am not ready to say yes to everything so I have to find the
right thing before I come. But each time I have made a Hollywood
movie, I have worked with really talented directors. I worked
with Mel Gibson, Spike Lee and the Wachowski Brothers and so I
have learned from each of them.
Q. What was the initial spark that got you interested
A: I always loved acting. I am from a small town so acting
was something so far from my reality. I started as a model because
I wanted to travel and be independent. I was about 18. It was
When Francis Ford Coppola did Dracula he saw a picture of me and
asked to see me. I only had this small part in the film but it
made me want to become an actress so I went back to Italy to take
lessons and worked.
In Italy, I realized I couldn’t do what I wanted to do so
I went to Paris and did my first film L’appartment and haven’t
stopped working since.
One film came after another so I am really lucky. I had the chance
to move from modeling to acting. I know that it doesn’t
happen often for a model to have the chance to work in many movies.
They might get one movie and that’s it. A career in acting
is difficult and so I am very lucky to have the chance to do all
Q. If each film allows you as an actor to learn something,
what did you take away from The Brothers Grimm?
A: I learned so much because it was real acting. I had
so much to do. Terry is such a genius with his fantasy and imagination.
He was a perfect teacher. If he calls me again, I will be there
Q. As a mother now, after having played this character,
will you read to her the Grimm’s Fairy Tales?
A: Of course. She is so little, only 10 months old. I
still tell her stories, even though she doesn’t understand,
she listens to how my voice changes. She is so curious. I am sure
really soon I will tell her all the stories I know.
Q. What is next for you?
A: I am going back to Italy to do an Italian film with
the French actor Daniel Auteuil called “N” and it’s
about Napoleon. And then I do a French movie with Catherine Deneuve
and then I come to America and do a film in January, but I cannot
tell you what it is yet. You will read about it soon.
Related stories: Read
Matt Damon interview
Heath Ledger interview