A/V Room









The Brothers Grimm - Monica Bellucci interview

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. As a child, what do you remember about Fairy Tales?
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...
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 as well.
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...
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?
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?
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?
It is impossible. I do think it is more a problem for American actresses. It is more Hollywood obsession than European obsession.
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 come along?
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?
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?
: 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..
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 in acting?
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 funny.
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 these movies.

Q. If each film allows you as an actor to learn something, what did you take away from The Brothers Grimm?
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 tomorrow morning.

Q. As a mother now, after having played this character, will you read to her the Grimm’s Fairy Tales?
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?
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.

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