Monica Bellucci: Inside the world of the new Bond woman, not the new Bond girl

She’s been chosen as Bond’s oldest love interest to date, but why all the fuss?

Monica Bellucci was yesterday announced as the oldest Bond girl in the franchise’s history, aged 50.

This obviously shouldn’t be a fact that we should marvel at, dapper lothario James Bond shouldn’t only fancy those under 30, but it’s a noteworthy detail nonetheless. The title was previously held by Honor Blackman, who was 39 when she played Pussy Galore in 1964’s Goldfinger.

The Italian actress, born in Umbria, will star in Sam Mendes’ Spectre, where she will play Lucia Sciarra. Apparently, Bellucci auditioned to be in a Bond film before, but lost out to Teri Hatcher in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. Nearly 20 years later, her Bond girl moment has arrived.

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“I wouldn’t want to be 20 again for anything,” she said in 2009.  “I am much happier now than when I was younger. You have to discover who you are, who you are going to be, there are so many insecurities. Today, I know the things that I need, the things that I can live without.”

Although she’s a household name in France and Italy, she’s still relatively little known. Bellucci starred in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena in 2000, which saw her popularity rise, later followed by roles in Irreversible, The Matrix Reloaded, Don’t Look Back and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, in which she played Mary Magdalene.

Career aside, we present the personal story of Bond’s latest object of affection (it feels like a disservice to call her simply a 'girl') – a goddess-like Italian bombshell, fluent in three languages who nearly became a lawyer.

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Bellucci at the premiere of Fasle Kargadan in Spain in 2012

She describes herself as part shark-part Mediterranean…

Which is probably one of the greatest descriptions of a person anyone could offer. When she was younger, she dramatically compared herself to “a shark, always moving; I need to move to stay alive”, but after having her first child (she now has two) she slowed a little. “I guess I’m part-shark, part-Mediterranean! That’s what’s so good about my child; she helps slow me down and relax, at last.”

She couldn’t be more Italian if she tried…

“I am a family person, which is very Italian: I come from a big, strong family and I love to have them around me,” she told the Daily Mail in 2009. “And I am certainly Italian in my love of food! I eat everything, but I love Italian food most of all. Even my daughter does. Her favourite food is pasta and parmigiano.”

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Bellucci modelling Guy Laroche at the label's spring/summer 1993 show in Paris

She posed nude while pregnant for Vanity Fair as a protest against Italian fertility laws…

Bellucci has posed for Vanity Fair while nude and pregnant twice, aged 39 and 45. The pictures were a protest against Italian legislation, which prohibits sperm donors. “'Women are going abroad but only if they can afford it. It's a political problem or rather an exploitation of religion by politics,” she said.

She started modelling when she was 13…

Bellucci was a model prior to her acting career. She moved to Milan in 1989 where she launched her fashion career in earnest. She has most famously modelled for Dior and Dolce & Gabbana – the latter of which she is still the campaign face of. This involves the awful job of lounging around in Sicily, with genetically gifted men dotted around her.

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Monica Bellucci on set with Domenico Dolce

Law was her first career choice…

But she fell into modelling first – not that she regrets it. “To be a lawyer was too boring for me – for my personality,” she later conceded.

She’s fluent in three languages and speaks some Persian…

Bellucci can speak Italian, French, English, with a little Persian thrown in for good measure.

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Bellucci and Roberto Bolle attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014

She’s been listed in more “Sexiest Women” lists that most have had hot dinners…

It is an unarguable fact; Bellucci is aesthetically pleasing, but in the way only an Italian woman can – she’s sexy, glamorous and full of attitude of the Sophia Loren variety. This is the least of her achievements, but she has featured in Sexiest Women lists of Men’s Health, AskMen and Empire. She also graced the cover of Esquire’s 2001 Desire issue.

She’s not sure about God, but she believes in a “mysterious energy”…

“I am an agnostic, even though I respect and am interested in all religions,” she said. “If there's something I believe in, it's a mysterious energy; the one that fills the oceans during tides, the one that unites nature and beings.”

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Bellucci with Vincent Cassel in 2004

She was formerly married to actor Vincent Cassel…

They were together for 18 years, married for ten and have two children together, Deva and Leonie. The couple split in 2013. “He made me grow up, he put me in front of a mirror and he made me see more things about myself,” Bellucci told Vanity Fair.

She is currently happily single…

“I am extraordinarily connected with myself,” she told Vanity Fair. “And I like to give this message to my daughters, for their future: its not obligatory to have a husband or partner. Solitude should not scare us. And after many years a as couple a period of personal reflection cannot but be welcomed.”

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