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BELLUCCI LA BELLISSIMA

Dolce & Gabbana Make Up's MONICA BELLUCCI is the ultimate Italian bombshell

BELLUCCI LA BELLISSIMA

INSTEAD OF FEARING the passing years, Monica Bellucci is a woman who exalts body and age. Although she’s considered one of the world’s great beauties, she doesn’t mourn the fading of her youthful bloom. The actress who exudes uncontrollable sexuality in torrid screen performances is comfortable in her own skin – wrinkles and all – and concerned less about being beautiful than with feeling beautiful. Aware that beauty evolves, at 49 she welcomes a different form of it, one developed through experience.
Following in the footsteps of actresses such as Charlotte Rampling and Catherine Deneuve, she’s succeeded in film roles playing mature women. And while she understands that there’s an intense pressure on Hollywood actresses to stay looking a certain way, she refuses to succumb to that doctrine, knowing life’s too short to worry about getting older – and that in her line of work, it’s interesting to age a little.
Born in 1964 in Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy to a painter mother and businessman father, Bellucci started modelling in her teens; she’d intended to study law but was distracted by the doors that modelling opened and the independence it offered. She moved to Milan in 1988, then to Paris and New York the following year, working for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Dior, and taking acting classes. After appearing in an Italian TV movie in 1990 and taking on small roles in obscure films, she came to the attention of Francis Ford Coppola, who cast her in Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992 as one of the vampire’s three brides, opposite Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins.
Bellucci worked steadily throughout the 1990s, appearing in a host of movies. After roles in films such as Malèna (2000), Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) and Irreversible (2002), she struck gold as sci-fi vixen Persephone in The Matrix sequels (2003), and with roles in Shoot ’Em Up (2007), alongside Clive Owen, and The Whistleblower (2010), with Rachel Weisz. She speaks Italian, French and English fluently, some Portuguese and Spanish, and has appeared in films speaking each of these languages, as well as Aramaic for her part as Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004), Farsi in Rhino Season (2012) by Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, and Serbian in Emir Kusturica’s upcoming On the Milky Road.
Today Bellucci has attained the sort of eminence that most models can only dream of, having appeared in almost 60 movies and TV shows. One of the most alluring actresses working today, she exudes an unparalleled raw sensuality, and it’s not difficult to see why she continues to outshine her younger contemporaries. Given her gilded career, you might expect a prima donna, but in the flesh she’s anything but. When I meet her in Paris, she’s doing a photo shoot for the new range of Dolce & Gabbana Make Up.
A long-time muse of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Bellucci is the perfect Dolce & Gabbana woman: feminine, elegant and sensual. In the make-up line they’ve dedicated to her, the products are named for her attributes. A raven-haired symbol of Mediterranean beauty, Bellucci has the colouring, the class and the curves, as well as an an amused, candid attitude to her body and to striking the right balance in life.
How did your collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana Make Up begin?
It’s the second year that we’ve done this together, but we’ve been friends for more than 20 years. I was a young model; they were young stylists whose careers became so huge. I did my first fashion show with them when I was a model. Even though I moved from one career to another, I’ve dressed so many times in Dolce & Gabbana for my red carpets. And it’s beautiful that after all these years we keep doing things together. When they called me again for this collaboration, I was very happy because it’s not just a story of working together, but also one of friendship and affection.
Tell us about your very first meeting with Dolce and Gabbana, and your relationship.
When they called me, I’d just arrived in Milan. I was with my book, like every young model. Friendship is a story of energy and there was this beautiful energy between us, and I think that we keep working together today because we are inspired by the same things – even movies and actresses – which come from our culture: the films of Fellini, Rossellini, Visconti and De Sica, leading ladies like Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Silvana Mangano and Monica Vitti, and this kind of femininity that’s very Italian.
Domenico Dolce has said that he’s constantly inspired by you, that you represent the original Dolce & Gabbana woman: naturally, timelessly beautiful. How does this make you feel?
I’m honoured because I respect so much what they do. For me, they’re artists. I love what they do in fashion because everything is so elegant and sensual at the same time. To be one of their muses is an honour, and also because they think about me and I’m an adult woman. Everything is about youth today, but this is about respect. It proves that they respect women, and the beauty of a woman is not just about her age but much more than that. So it’s a beautiful message for women.
Tell me about your personal beauty and make-up routine.
I clean my face, like all women, before going to bed. I use a good moisturiser, very light, and try to drink a lot of water because I think it’s good to have good hydration from the inside. I also like products from Dr Hauschka because they’re very natural. I love make-up and I think that I would use make-up even if I wasn’t working in the image industry because I like to have some make-up on during the day when I have to go out for my own things. To have on some mascara and lipstick, I like that. My relationship with femininity has a long history because in my family – my mother, aunts and two grandmothers – women are very feminine and they take care of themselves.
What’s it like being named one of the most beautiful women in the world?
I think the most important thing is knowing the difference between who you are and the image that goes around, because I do films, covers of magazines and publicity like Dolce & Gabbana, then the image goes away and becomes one thing, then it’s a part of you, which doesn’t mean all of you. Of course, when I receive a compliment, I like it. But I don’t believe in the image. It’s important to have a distance between you and the image. You’re not the image. You’re a real woman.
There’s pressure on Hollywood actresses to remain looking young, but you embrace your age, staying stylish and elegant in your late 40s.
I think it’s important to respect your age. At the same time, I think today women are very lucky because they stay young for a long time, also because they’re very healthy compared with the past. Women take care of themselves. They respect their health. For example, I don’t smoke and this helps me to stay in good health. Also it’s all about your inner energy. You must cultivate your inner energy and take care of it. If the light inside is off, it’s impossible to have light outside. The light outside comes from the light inside, especially when you grow older, because when you’re young, you have a natural light that comes from youth. Then it depends on how you live your life and how you react to things in your life – the light can be on and off. It depends on how you deal with everything. That’s why I think beauty is a matter of energy, not a matter of beauty itself. And I think that sometimes growing older, the energy can become even stronger because you work on yourself.
What are your memories of childhood?
My parents were very young when I was born and, of course, there are beautiful things and bad things in a family. But what I can say for sure is that I had love around me, which I think is very important, so I was under a lucky star. And when a kid is loved, even though you can then have very bad moments in life, this love that you have in the beginning gives you strength in life.
Città di Castello was a small place, very provincial. I liked it because I felt protected but, at the same time, I felt suffocated because the choice I made was so different and I travelled a lot. I saw my parents once or twice a year. We talked, but I was very independent from very young. When you come from a macho culture, you have to learn how to defend yourself and how to push people to respect you, especially the male attitude and when you work in the world of the image. You have to know how to deal with all that. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible.
Why did you go from studying law to modelling?
Because I was under pressure and because I started to work from very young, so I was very independent and I liked the feeling that at 18, I could live like a 30-year-old woman. I had my apartment already, I was travelling, I didn’t have to ask anything from anybody. My friends were still in university and they had to ask their parents for money, while I was completely like an adult. I liked this feeling of adult life very much, and then it was impossible to go back to university because of work.
Why did you go into a career in show business?
It was a dream from when I was very young, like nine or 10 years old. With my parents, I would go see movies a lot and I was really charmed by this world. I was a very shy little girl and maybe for me it was almost therapeutic to get into movies and, for now, it’s still my life. We’ll see…but I really like what I do. And actually I explained to my child, the oldest one, that it’s important to find a job that gives you the opportunity to live and, at the same time, to have pleasure. I think it’s very important to have a passion in life.
What do you enjoy about acting?
The creativity. I like the moment when you create your character, and being on set with people. You almost create a family. It can be one, two, three months. We create something special. When I was a model, I liked it but, at the same time, there was a lot of travelling: one day you’re in Miami, one day in Los Angeles, one day in Paris. So you don’t have the time sometimes to build relationships. With movies, it’s different – sometimes you create friendships that can last forever.
Was your modelling background an advantage?
No, because they’re two different worlds. I think that’s why there are not many models who move to acting and it works, because when you have your photo taken, there are some attitudes that become fake. You’re beautiful in front of the camera, but you have a way of being that doesn’t work in movies. Movies are life, reality; you have to be natural. So in some way, you have to clean all that’s fake in the attitude of the model, sometimes in the way they walk, the way they move, the way they talk even. They have to clean all that and it’s not easy when you’ve done this for many years.
You’re multilingual. How has your language ability helped you to win roles in foreign- language films?
I think that all actors have a good ear, so many of them speak many languages. For me, it was a necessity because I come from Italy. In the past, it was easy to become an international actress through Italian movies. But now Italian movies are not international. So if you want to have a career, of course you have to speak French and English because like that, you can open yourself to new countries. So that’s why I have the chance through speaking different languages to work with French, American and Iranian directors.
What’s the difference between working in Europe and Hollywood?
Actually, when you’re in front of the camera, nothing really changes. It’s just about the budget. In America, sometimes it’s a big-budget movie that in Europe is impossible because new producers don’t have the same amount of money. So maybe in America they have bigger trailers and 15 assistants, but this is just decoration. When you’re in front of the camera, it doesn’t matter if there’s a big or small budget. Acting is acting.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
Like all women. All women in the world say they have this problem. Actually, we do everything men do, plus we make children. So it becomes a huge responsibility and I think it’s a problem for all women having to deal with these things. It’s so complicated: love, children, family life, career…I wanted first to work, travel, find my own place and understand better who I was before having children. I’m one of those women who needs to get into motherhood to understand things about myself. For me, having children is one of the most beautiful experiences, but also because I did it at a moment in my life when I was ready for it. I decided when I wanted to become a mother; it didn’t happen by coincidence. I knew it was a big moment in a woman’s life, so I wanted to be ready for it.
What’s a typical day for you?
I don’t have a tyspical day. It doesn’t exist because everything is different, every day is different and every period is different. Sometimes I’m here and then they call me up to go to Shanghai. I also don’t like to have a typical day – maybe that’s why I live in different countries. I move a lot because I always like to be in front of something that’s unexpected.
You live in Paris, London, Rome and Rio de Janeiro. Is there a city in which you spend the most time?
No, I travel. And then it depends on when I work. Now I’ll be in Serbia for four months. I was in Rio de Janeiro for six months. My children travel with me. They went to school in Rio de Janeiro and now, because I’m going to work, they’ll have a private teacher. They speak four languages: Italian, French, English and Portuguese. How can I explain it? We are gypsies.
What’s important for you to teach your children?
To respect themselves and others.
What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?
I don’t think about that. I think I have to grow and learn things. I don’t think, “Oh my God, when I die, I’m going to leave that.” It’s incredible because sometimes when you do this, then what comes out from you is exactly the opposite. What I think is important is just to be real with yourself and to follow what is good for you.
 
PHOTOGRAPHY / PHILIPPE MCCLELLAND
CREATIVE DIRECTION & STYLING / PARIS LIBBY
HAIR / JOHN NOLLET
MAKE-UP / LAETITIA CARNEVALE USING DOLCE & GABBANA MAKE UP
STYLING ASSISTANT / MARINE LESCIEUX
LOCATION / SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, PARIS
WARDROBE / DOLCE & GABBANA
JEWELLERY / CARTIER