Monica Bellucci: ‘I’m not a Bond girl, I’m a Bond woman’
The actor, soon to be seen in the new James Bond movie Spectre, on why 007 is the perfect man – and what draws her to roles in ‘violent and unwatchable’ films
Thursday 17 September 2015
Hi Monica! You’re about to become the oldest James Bond love interest in history (1). Why do you think your casting struck such a nerve?
Because the world is a man’s world. Men have the power in everything: journalism, acting, direction; in banks, finances, schools. All the laws are made by men. Men think that women, when they’re not able to procreate any more, become old. That is not true – they are still amazing! That’s why I think that Sam Mendes [director of the new James Bond film, Spectre], in choosing me, an adult woman, created a big revolution.
I don’t know Hollywood very well. I’ve never lived in Los Angeles or New York. But what I can see in Paris, where I live, is that actresses like Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Charlotte Rampling, still get the chance to play strong, sexy roles even though they’re not 20.
Some people take offence at the term Bond girl. Do you?
I can’t say I’m a Bond girl because I’m too mature to be a Bond girl. I say Bond lady; Bond woman. But I’m proud to be a Bond lady, because actually, Bond is the most amazing man. You know why?
Because he doesn’t exist.
I’ve just seen your new film, Ville-Marie, at the Toronto film festival. You play an actress in it. How was that?
First of all she’s a woman – with so many problems. She uses the fact that she’s an actress in the way a solider protects himself with a weapon. Because when she goes out in public, the people look for an image, not who she is. People think she’s beautiful, famous and special. And actually she feels like less than nothing.
Could you relate to that?
I hope not! But if you ask me why I’m an actress – I don’t know why. There is one beautiful sentence that Humphrey Bogart used to say … not Humphrey Bogart! Richard Burton! Richard Burton used to say: “An actress is more than a woman, and an actor is less than a man.” (2) I don’t know what that’s about. But it’s just something that I need to do right now. Maybe in 10 years I won’t be an actress any more. But right now, to play is something I need. It’s one way of learning something about myself.
I hope that I’m a better mother to my children. But I have two girls (3); if I had a boy maybe it would be more difficult. The relationship with my girls is very beautiful. But I think I can understand the pain for a mother who doesn’t have a good relation with her son. I don’t think there’s bigger pain than that.
What draws you to more extreme films like Irréversible? (4)
My body is an object of work. That’s why I think to be an actor is one of the most violent jobs. If you’re a pianist, you have your piano. If you’re a guitarist, you have your guitar. But if you’re a dancer, or you’re an actor – your instrument is your body.
For example, when we see dancers while they’re dancing, it’s like they fly up in the air. The most touching moment of my life was when I went to the Bolshoi in Moscow: I’ve never seen such elevation of art. But I’m sure that when the dancers got back into their little room, their feet were full of blood. While they’re dancing, they don’t feel the blood. It’s more of a high than pain. I think actors can do things with their body – it’s like they forget they are inside. They can do things without being ashamed.
Do you ever feel you go too far?
Sometimes I ask why directors ask that I do things that are so violent. I don’t know. Beauty is like a mask, and people think that when you’re beautiful, some things can be easier. For example, I was very shy early in my life. When I started to be pretty I was less shy because people would come to me, instead of me coming to them. But even though the problems are still the same, there’s a moment in your life where the beauty of youth goes away. Even though you say I’m pretty, I’m 50 years old, not 20. There is a moment in your life when you have to deal, because time goes by. All I can say is that I’m ready for it.
(1) In Spectre, out in late October. Bellucci is … 51.
(2) The quotation appears on various websites as “An actor is something less than a man, while an actress is something more than a woman”. It was Richard Burton, though.
(3) Bellucci has two children with actor Vincent Cassel, from whom she separated in 2013.
(4) Gaspar Noé’s 2002 hardcore drama, co-starring Cassel. The critic Roger Ebert called it “so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable”.