Monica Bellucci - Biography & Career
Monica Bellucci was born on September 30, 1964, in the village of Citta di Castello, in Umbria, Italy. Initially pursuing a career as a lawyer, Monica decided to start modeling in order to help pay for her tuition while at the University of Perugia. But of course, the glamorous life of a model -- which includes travel and a sweet income -- tempted Monica away from her law studies.
In 1988, Monica moved to one of Europe's fashion centers -- Milan. There, she signed with Elite Model Management and found plenty of modeling work.
By 1989, Monica was making it big in Paris and across the Atlantic, in New York. But although she had achieved huge success in so little time as a model (posing for Dolce & Gabbana and French Elle), Monica thrived for more.
She made the transition to acting -- a very popular trend that models Laetitia Casta, James King and Estella Warren have done successfully -- and began taking acting classes.
She made her film debut in 1990, with roles in Vita coi figli and Briganti (a.k.a Bandits: Love and Liberty). The following year, Monica starred as Francesca in the film La Riffa, and made her American film debut with the role of Dracula's Bride in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula, co-starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder.
Roles began to pour in for the Italian beauty. After a role in Ostinato destino, she appeared in I Mitici (a.k.a. The Heroes) in 1994, and Palla di neve in 1995. She also starred as the Pharaoh's wife in the made-for-TV movie, Joseph.
But it was her role in the 1996 film, L'Appartement, that earned Monica her acting accolades. Her role as Lisa earned her a Cesar nomination (French equivalent of the Oscar) in the Most Promising Young Actress category, and ensured that audiences and film critics would take notice of this up-and-coming starlet. The movie also co-starred her husband, Vincent Cassel, whom she later married in 1999.
In 1997, Bellucci was cast in Come mi vuoi (a.k.a As You Want Me), Dobermann and Mauvais genre. After roles in more European films such as 1998's L'Ultimo capodanno, A los que aman, and Compromis, she starred in 1999's Comme un poisson hors de l'eau (a.k.a. Like a Fish Out of Water).
Luckily, American audiences were able to catch a glimpse of the stunning brunette in the 2000 drama, Under Suspicion, as Gene Hackman's trophy wife. She followed that up with a role in the French film, Franck Spadone.
But it was the critical success of the Italian film Malena (2000), in which Monica starred in the title role, that really catapulted her to fame. The movie was nominated for 14 awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and continues to be one of the roles to best showcase her dramatic talent.
In 2001, Bellucci starred in Brotherhood of the Wolf (co-starring her husband Cassel) and as Cleopatra in Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatre the following year. While the latter was considered lighter fare, Monica really stretched her acting muscle in the gritty 2002 film Irreversible, in which she portrays a rape victim.
If American audiences still weren't familiar with Bellucci, they were sure to catch her in 2003's Tears of the Sun, with Bruce Willis, and of course, as Persephone in the highly anticipated sequels to 1999's The Matrix: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. She also had the honor of gracing AskMen.com's top spot in its 99 Most Desirable Women in the World of 2002.
In 2004, Monica Bellucci was seen as Magdalene in Mel Gibson's controversial blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ, and returned to French film with Agents secrets. She can also add 2004's The Brothers Grimm (with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger), Spike Lee's She Hate Me, and 2005's Lord of War (with Nicolas Cage) to her filmography.
Although the model-turned-actress has reached incredible heights in both streams of her career, she still dreams of working with the legendary Robert De Niro.
Monica and her husband will soon be parents, as they are expecting their first child in the fall of 2004.