Among writer Alessandro Baricco’s fictional characters, literary and cinematic, is a pianist who, in the film The Legend of 1900, wins plaudits as a pianist playing for passengers on an ocean liner that he never actually leaves. With the same slightly surreal approach, the celebrated writer interviews Monica Bellucci, an icon of Italian beauty, for The Official Ferrari Magazine. It’s a conversation in which the star bares her soul
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
- Phew, what a car.
Beautiful, isn’t it? I think it’s more or less the same age as me.
- A Ferrari as old as you.
Yes, that’s it. Don’t say anything else, like who’s aged better or things of that sort.
- Alright. What are we to do with this splendid Ferrari?
Take some photos. Before the interview they want to take a few photos.
I hate having my photograph taken.
- Go on…
In fact, while we’re on the subject, tell me how.
- How to do what?
I mean, when you’re there being photographed, what do you think about?
- What a question… I think about what I’m doing!
You mean you think about what kind of a face you have at the time?
- Of course.
I try to think of something completely different.
- That’s wrong! When they photograph you, you have to produce energy, power, beauty perhaps but some power above all.
If you think about something else, how do you think you can manage it?
I don’t know, I find I want to escape and think about something else.
- And so imagine what photos…
Let’s not talk about it.
- For example, at this moment you should know exactly what you’re doing with your hands, your eyes, everything.
You’re joking! It’s a miracle if I have more or less of an idea of what face I’m making.
- No, you’re not cut out for it.
I write. I’m not a photographic model.
- No, of course you aren’t. By the way, what kind of interview are we to going to have?
Whatever you like. I’d only like to suggest one rule.
- What kind of rule?
Talking about sons and daughters is not allowed.
I don’t know, everybody talks of their children on every occasion. I mean, surely they can’t come into everything?
- Would you like to know something about children?
- That they take you out of yourself.
- Only that they make you do things you never thought you could do, know how to do or wanted to do.
Yes, it’s happened to me too.
- It’s fantastic.
Yes, but in the interview I would drop it, do you mind?
- As you like. What shall we talk about then?
I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s not easy because at a distance you look so completely calm, in order, everything in its place, never an oversight…
- Ha, ha, ha!
I mean, when we see you on the red carpet, for example, you look as if you were born on one. You look as if you were enjoying it and nothing else.
- Then I put on a good show of pretending.
- I will never get used to some red carpets.
That’s good to hear.
- It’s difficult to be on that carpet. You stand to win or lose a lot in a split second. The only thing that’s worse is to be in the house in the dark at the première of a film you’re in, when you know that anything might happen, absolutely anything, perhaps they’ll tear you to pieces or perhaps it will be a howling success, who knows, and there you are in there in the dark. Murderous. But wonderful too, I must say.
Well, I’m pleased that you’re afraid too sometimes. And mistakes, have you ever made any mistakes?
- What a question! Heaps. With men I’ve made heaps of mistakes.
I was thinking of professional mistakes.
- Yes, with men, heaps.
Give me an example.
- Now you’re asking…
You needn’t tell me any names.
- No, it’s not that, it’s… look, I forget my mistakes, I mean I learn lots from mistakes, I have to say thank you to my mistakes if I’m here, and so I’m even glad I made them… I don’t live with them as if they were something that hurt me.
That’s typical of champions.
- That is?
Once a great water polo coach was explaining to me the things that help you to tell a real
champion from a very good player. There were four or five characteristics, and one was that he gets better after every defeat.
Yes, it is.
- It really is.
Has it happened to you? To have a real defeat, I mean.
- Well, I don’t know. Difficult moments, yes.
- I’m not sure, there are certain times when you feel really small.
- Well, for example, when I went to do a screen test for Under Suspicion, you know the film, the one with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman?
- I go for the test and Morgan Freeman was there. He looks at me and says incredulously, “You can act too?” Well, you feel quite small at a time like that.
I want to know exactly what you replied, word for word.
- Nothing. I did the screen test. I did it well. They chose me for the film.
I would have wanted to disappear.
- Because look, I’ve always felt like a little beast, yes, just an animal, especially when I was small. Now perhaps I’m a bit stronger but in fact I’ve always stayed a little beast, if you know what I mean.
- For example, I’m not self-centred, what I want to do in life is not to disturb anyone. You know the kind of people that come into a party, for example, come in and don’t care to hang about the others, they’ve arrived and so everyone has to notice that they’ve arrived? Well, I’m not like that. I try not to disturb, do you understand?
- A little animal.
Come on, little animal, they want you to sit at the wheel.
- You won’t make me drive it, will you?
No, only pretend.
Have you ever been in a Ferrari before? Not for work, I mean.
- Yes, a couple of times.
- I remember a French director. We had an appointment and he came to fetch me in a Ferrari.
Did he win any brownie points or lose some?
- Well, you wouldn’t have expected it of him, he wasn’t the type you’d think would arrive in a Ferrari, but he did and it was surprising and so, yes, he did get some brownie points. I’m not all that interested in whether a man is handsome or not, or anything else much, I don’t even notice. Perhaps they just say something you weren’t expecting and suddenly you start noticing them, I start studying them and they really start to exist, for me at least.
Maybe now you’d like to come up with a memorable quote…
OK. Who was that director?
- Oh come on…
Alright, then tell me the name of an actor that really made an impression on you, you’ve
worked with all those stars, tell me the name of one that really knocked you backwards.
- He’s an animal.
He certainly is…
- In a good sense, I mean, in a magnificent sense. He’s got a type of power, of intensity, the only thing you can say about him is that: an animal. But admiringly, no?
Yes, of course.
- A magnificent animal.
And all the others?
Is that all?
- What do you think, are we going to finish with these shots at all?
I’m sure we are. Certainly it’s striking. To see everyone clustering around you. To see a star
- A star?
- No, look, there are no stars in our parts. I’ve only seen real stars in America, and there you realise what a star is. There’s an entire industrial system that lives on stars, so they need to create them, to go on having them, and they know how to do it. So there it’s really a show. But where we are, in Europe, look, there aren’t any stars.
Well, anyway, the effect you have on people is striking. When did you realise you were like that?
- Like what?
When did you realise you’d arrived, you’d turned the corner?
- I haven’t arrived. You never arrive.
That’s very American.
- But it’s true. I’m really only halfway along the road. Or at least I would like it to be like that. I want to get older, I feel that there are lots of things that are still going to happen. And then you improve with the years, you mature. You get stronger.
Yes, I know. Or at least you have to believe it.
- But it’s true. For example some things don’t hurt you any more.
- For example.
Once a writer, I don’t remember who, said something very right: ‘praise bores me, criticism hurts me.’
- That’s a good one!
Quite true, though…
Does criticism still hurt you?
- Oh, I don’t read anything anymore, you know.
Do you manage?
I don’t believe it, but it doesn’t matter.
- Oh, come on…
Anyway you don’t seem to have changed much, have you? How many years is it since we met?
- Oh I don’t know, a long time. It was for that Grimaldi film, I think.
Well, you don’t seem to have changed much.
- And why should I have had to change?
Well, you’ve had a lot of success since then. – Come on… Anyway, do you want to know something I’ve realised about success?
- It brings out what you really are.
You think so?
- Yes, absolutely.
Well, I’m not so sure.
- Just think about it.
Perhaps it’s like children, on the other hand. Perhaps success takes you further than you
would go otherwise. It makes you do things you’d never have thought of doing, knowing
how to do or wanting to do.
- No, only children can do that.
- They’ve finished, don’t you think?
I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.
- Yes, they’ve finished. Let’s go and do this interview.
- Perhaps you can wait a second for me to change.
If you want. I’d stay dressed like that if it were me.
I’ll wait for you.
- Yes. I won’t be a minute.
Published on The Official Ferrari Magazine 17 issue May 2012