Monica Bellucci has long been regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful women.
That assessment still holds true today, even at the age of 50, an age that still carries an irrational stigma for actresses and women, in general. But Bellucci is living proof that beauty is ageless, becoming the oldest Bond girl in the history of the film franchise with her role in Spectre, the newest James Bond movie that marks Daniel Craig’s fourth appearance as “007”. Bellucci is not only proud of being a “Bond woman,” as she puts it, but also of her new life as a single mother of two following her 2012 separation from actor/husband Vincent Cassell. She believes that women should take charge of their sensuality, and that being desirable is much more a function of one’s sense of self than pure physical attractiveness.
“There is too much emphasis on the physical aspect of beauty and attraction when it comes to women,” Bellucci says. “I feel full of energy and excitement at this point in my life. I don’t think about my age as changing anything about how I should feel about myself. This is such a good time for me and I feel a great curiosity to discover new things about myself and life, in general.”
Without doubt, Bellucci has been one of the most stunningly seductive actresses—but she is much more than just a head-turner—originally pursuing a career in law and multilingual in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Persian.
In addition to Spectre, Bellucci has also completed work on a very different film - On the Milky Road - a complex love story amid the blood and carnage of WWII by acclaimed Serbian author/director Emir Kusturica.
Over the course of her career, Bellucci has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, appearing in major Hollywood films, including her Oscar-nominated portrayal as Malèna (Mary Magdalen) in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, as well as The Matrix sequels. In France, where she took up residence in the ‘90s, she has played in The Apartment (her first film in French), Irreversible, Secret Agents (all of which she co-starred with her then-husband, Vincent Cassel), and How Much Do You Love Me? (original title: Combien tu m’aimes?).
Monica Bellucci lives in Paris, together with her two daughters from Cassell: Deva, 10, and Leonie, 5. She is now divorced from Cassell after their 18-year-old relationship (and 14 years of marriage) and is currently “happily single.”
STRIPLV: Monica, does it bother you that so much fuss is attached to your having turned 50?
BELLUCCI: I don’t really care... I’ve never approached aging as a traumatic experience. It’s beautiful to be 50 and having been able to appreciate so many different moments and gain so much more awareness of yourself and the world around you. I think we should celebrate that and draw inspiration from that. A woman can reflect so much beauty that way.
STRIPLV: Does playing in a Bond film in some sense confirm that 50 does not mean that a woman can no longer be seen as attractive?
BELLUCCI: I think it’s a sign that women deserve to be respected and considered beautiful at any age. Sensuality and sexiness does not just belong to women in their twenties or thirties. In the film business, there has often been this prejudice against older women, the same way that in our society older women tend to be overlooked. Women need to believe in themselves and understand that they can still project sensuality and beauty as they get older. We shouldn’t be made to feel as if we are no longer interesting or sexy at 50, as compared to when we’re 30.
STRIPLV: You’ve lived your life as the object of intense scrutiny and admiration as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Is that a difficult burden?
“ Beauty is a gift that is given to you. But you shouldn’t feel too proud, because you did nothing to achieve it. It’s simply something that is part of who you are, but not who you really are on the inside.”
BELLUCCI: Beauty can also be a double-edged sword, because there is so much pressure to maintain the image that the public has of you from when you were younger. But I have long ago accepted that getting older is a part of life and I am not worrying about trying to maintain an illusion. One day you’re seen as the most beautiful woman in the world and the next day there’s another woman who is given that kind of attention. It’s not real.
STRIPLV: You have a natural sense of calm and confidence. Where does that come from?
BELLUCCI: I take after my father a lot. He wanted me to be independent and to think for myself. My parents were very permissive and wanted me to be able to lead an interesting life. You can’t really ask for any better support than that. It gave me a sense of freedom and desire to explore life.
STRIPLV: Aside from your work in Spectre, you’ve also shot On the Milky Road with Emir Kusturica, due to come out this fall. What was that experience like?
BELLUCCI: The film is a love story set in wartime and shot in the wilderness. The story is divided into three chapters and Emir is also the main actor. For me, it remains one of my greatest experiences ever in my acting career. Kusturica is a complete artist: director, writer, musician, producer—but most of all, he is an amazing human being.
STRIPLV: You left Italy to work in France. Was that an important decision in your life?
BELLUCCI: One of the things I have loved over the course of my acting career is that I am able to explore different cultures. That’s why I was interested in working in France, where they make 350 films a year, as compared to 50 films a year in Italy. So it has always been a great pleasure for me to work with American, Italian, French and with Iranian and now a Serbian director.
STRIPLV: How difficult was it to overcome all the obsessive attention to your beauty when you were trying to make your way as a serious actress?
BELLUCCI: It was something that I had to confront, even before I started my acting career. When I was writing my final exams in Italy, my Greek professor was my examiner and he asked me very condescendingly: “When you become an adult, what are you going to do with your life? Are you going to be an actress or a TV presenter?” It was his way of trying to humiliate me, by suggesting that I had no business studying because of my looks. From his way of thinking, an actress didn’t need to study or take her education seriously. Of course, the great irony is that I did become an actress!
STRIPLV: Was acting always your dream?
BELLUCCI: I had wanted to be an actress since childhood and I’m very proud that I have made a good life with the career that I chose for myself. Acting was my salvation. It rescued me from being a full-time model, which was very unfulfilling. It took me time before I could prove myself as an actress, but once I did make some good films, it was much easier for me to find good roles that appealed to me.
STRIPLV: What would your reaction be, if your daughters wanted to become actresses?
BELLUCCI: I would be happy, and so would their father. But one thing I would be very against is if she wanted to become a model. I don’t want my daughters to be part of that world. Anything else.
STRIPLV: What are the challenges of being single at this point in your life?
BELLUCCI: It’s one of the most interesting and revealing chapters in my life... It’s a situation that I’ve never really experienced before. I always went directly from one relationship to another, and then I was married for 14 years. And when my marriage ended, it wasn’t because I met someone else, it was because our marriage had run its course. But since then I have found a new sensation of vitality and energy that I have never experienced before.
STRIPLV: Is it destabilizing or even frightening in some way when you come out of a long marriage and find yourself without a partner in life?
BELLUCCI: Being single does not mean being alone, of course. You have the freedom to have a relationship or not. Yes, there is some fear at times, but it’s also very stimulating and exciting, too! This is a very special time for me.