If Italian actress Monica Bellucci becomes a full-fledged sex symbol in the U.S. — as she already is in Europe — she’ll be a most unusual one. Unlike your average Hollywood hottie, the 33-year-old is fluent in three languages, and when she mentions Michelangelo and Raffaello, she’s not talking about ninja turtles.
Bellucci drew attention here in 2000 when Miramax distributed ”Malena,” an Italian period piece that cast her as a small-town beauty whose looks spark obsession in men and rage in women. That role led the Wachowski brothers to cast Bellucci in 2003’s sequels to ”The Matrix.” Until then, U.S. audiences can see her in ”Brotherhood of the Wolf,” the new foreign blockbuster that sets ”Matrix”-style action in pre-revolutionary France. Recently, Bellucci told EW.com about her fondness for onscreen nudity, her multi-national career, and her thoughts on Britney Spears.
Why did you decide to do the ”Matrix” movies?
I didn’t want to do an American movie just because it’s American, even though I love American movies, because they’re so big. ”The Matrix” was so different from European movies — such beautiful, beautiful action. But ”The Matrix” for me is much more than an action film. It’s a film about the logic of life; it’s a love story. There are so many deep things inside; if you want to see them, you can see them. And if you want to just enjoy the action, you can do that too. When I saw it I was entranced. I said, ”Wow, I want to be in a movie like that.”
Many American actresses are uncomfortable with on-screen nudity. You don’t seem to have that problem.
Actually, I’m against it being used gratuitously. But I think that when nudity is well filmed, it’s beautiful. In ”Brotherhood,” my character is a prostitute, a courtesan. In the beginning, when you see her in a love scene and she’s naked, it’s filmed to look like a painting, so there it’s in very good taste… One reason that I’m comfortable with nudity is because I come from Europe, and I have a good relation with my body. Europeans are different, even in the way we lay on the beach nude. Why do we have to be scared about nudity? Many feel offended by it, but nudity is like who we are without the dressing, like what we leave behind. Nudity is pure; if not, why were Michelangelo and Raffaello so interested in it? Nudity is something magic.