Difficult to believe Monica Bellucci, diva of the cinema, when she confides feeling "terror" when she goes on stage, where she embodies the voice of the most mythical prima donna, Maria Callas.
The captivating actress remains intimidated by her first experience at the theater, which she began in November at the Marigny theater with a scenography reading of extracts from letters and memories of the icon of the opera.
"It's terror. It's not that I was afraid of the theater, I'm always afraid of the theater! I'm trembling," said the 55-year-old star, who repeats the experience at Les Bouffes. Parisians from Friday (until March 28). "Going on stage, it's almost a violence I do to myself".
"When we make a film, it is as if we were protected from the outside world. In the theater, we breathe the audience and the audience breathes you. There is direct contact, a concentration that must remain for an hour and a half" , says the Italian.
"In the cinema, these are small scenes of a few minutes and then we stop," she said, adding that it was only in the film "Irréversible" by Gaspar Noé where she played "20 minutes in a row" .
Despite this fear, she was conquered by the project of Tom Wolfe, director of the documentary "Maria by Callas" who later had Albin Michel publish a collection of moving letters and memoirs of the diva, also known for his song only for his tragic love for Aristotle Onassis.
- "Alchemy" -
"The letters are so beautiful ... it was impossible not to enter the soul of this wonderful artist," says Monica Bellucci.
For Tom Wolf, an "alchemy" occurred between the Bellucci and the Callas on stage, so the actress "has, with her voice, aptly interpreted the strength and the vulnerability of the diva. With her celebrity status, Monica was able to understand the woman behind the legend. "
He tells an anecdote about the very first general of the representation where a butterfly suddenly appeared from behind the scenes and swirled around the face of the actress. "People thought it was a special effect, like a reference to Madame Butterfly", the heroine of Puccini and one of the iconic roles of Callas.
Bellucci even wears a Callas dress on stage. "The amazing thing is that there was no need to touch up anything, it was like it was custom made," said Wolf.
"It's like a relic," says Bellucci, showing the dress in his dressing room.
Life in the spotlight is perhaps the only common point between the two women, the Callas having seen all its life spread out in the broad daylight in the international press: its legendary successes, but also its blows, its cancellations - often misinterpreted by the press as capricious - his divorce and especially his relationship with Onassis who will break his heart by abandoning him for Jackie Kennedy.
"She showed this smiling public image, and behind it hid a woman who lived something else," says Monica Bellucci.
"When we are exposed, it is sure that we risk a lot. I always try to protect myself (...) It is really important to keep my feet on the ground and to have a distance with our image", says the actress, whose separation from actor Vincent Cassel after 17 years of living together has been widely publicized.
- "Overcome fear" -
"I don't feel alive just when I do my job. When I take my daughters to school, when I'm with a man, my girlfriends, I also vibrate," she adds.
Asked about the #MeToo movement and the Polanski affair, she affirms that in addition to the progress of the law, it is necessary to evolve so that this "ancestral fear among women, inherited from their mothers and grandmothers", especially faces to "people who can handle".
Will it renew the theater experience? "I've already been offered things but we'll see," smiles the actress who will be playing in "The Man Who Had Sold Her Skin" by director Kaouther Ben Hania (Beauty and the Pack, 2018 ), in "Inexorable" by Fabrice Du Welz and in an Italian film by Antongiulio Panizzi, "The Girls in the Fountain" where she will play Anita Ekberg.
What about her diva status? She bursts out laughing: "one of my two daughters is called Deva. It's not a negative thing, in Italian, it means someone who takes the light from the sky!".
© 2020 AFP