Maria Bello Interview

The actress shows some skin and sheds some tears in David Cronenberg's latest film, A History of Violence

Maria Bello is certainly not afraid of showing a little skin. Her sex scenes with Viggo Mortensen are sure to raise some eyebrows. She's got the acting chops to back-up her considerable beauty though. She's made a career of playing intricate characters and delivers the most emotionally complex performance of the film. She gave it her all and it certainly shows on screen.

How bruised up did you get during that sex scene on the stairs?

Maria Bello: David [Cronenberg] likes to say that Viggo [Mortensen] and I limped onto set that day. My entire back was covered in black and blue and purple bruises. Viggo's elbow was out to here because he kept slamming it against the stair. So on a physical level it was quite painful, but I think we all so emotionally went for that scene. And David is the kind of director who makes you feel like you can go anywhere.

How do you determine which directors you can trust to go that far with?

Maria Bello: I think it's less about a director and more about a person. You feel you can trust them instinctively. I met my best friends that way, I knew in a second. And David was certainly one of those people. I'd always been a fan of his work. We share a same sort of existential philosophy about life. When they sent me the script to do this part, I just jumped at the chance to work with him.

Did this movie make you think about how can you really know a person?

Maria Bello: Oh yeah, I found that when I do a part, it's because I'm working out a certain issue that identifies with my own life. And this was no exception; I was really facing questions of my own identity at the time. I was in a big questioning mode. And still am! I love that about David, his work leaves you with more questions than answers.

Why were you in a questioning mode?

Maria Bello: I was ending a long relationship at that time, a seven or eight year relationship, and really just kind of facing myself about how does one have a relationship. I think a lot of people are in relationships because they've been in them for a long time and they don't know how to end them.

Do you think that helped your performance at all?

Maria Bello: I do, for sure.

Did you and Viggo come up with a back story for your characters?

Maria Bello: Yes. David and Viggo are same way. They're both such talkers. They get into it. We'd spend hours together talking about how we first met, our first date, when we got married

Did David let you improvise or did you stay close to the script?

Maria Bello: The script was so tight and so good we didn't really need to. One scene that's not in the movie and I'm so mad it's not on the movie, because it was the hardest thing to shoot ever in my life. It was at a waterfall. In the original script, I pick him up from the diner that night, we go, and I say I want to be teenagers with you again. There's a waterfall and we shot it in Toronto in the end of October. It was so cold and we were naked. They had this jacuzzi there for us, this plastic jacuzzi with hot water, but I remember at the end of the night crying. It was just freezing and it's not in the movie.

Would have made this film if David didn't direct it?

Maria Bello: I think it's a fantastic script. And I like the complicated nature of the issues of identity. So I probably would have, depending on who was directing it, who was in it.

I'm guessing your son's not going to see this movie for a long time.

Maria Bello: That's the problem with most of the movies I do, but I finally made a movie he can see called "Flicka", which comes out in February. And one of the reasons I did it was my son has never been able to see a movie of mine.

How do you juggle an acting career with being a mom?

Maria Bello: I think most women these days can understand it because most of us do. I think I'm luckier than most because most women work nine to five and don't see their kids. I work six months a year or eight months a year. Jack comes back and forth with me to sets.

After you made "The Cooler", did you worry about getting offered explicitly sexual characters exclusively?

Maria Bello: No, since I first started acting, I never separated a character's sexuality from what they eat for breakfast. I just think it's sort of silly. If I can be a part of helping to overcome that puritanical thing in our culture, so be it. I'm happy about it.

Do you consider "The Cooler" a turning point in your career?

Maria Bello: Yes, it was a big turning point for me. Yes in a business sense, career sense, but more in an artistic way, that it was the first time I was able to really be free in a role. It was the first time I had a role where I was able to express everything I am and can do and can express in myself. So it gave me some confidence in terms of what I was capable of.

What can you tell us about "The Dark"?

Maria Bello: It actually opened in Germany. I hope it's going to open here. It's a psychological thriller type ghost film. I've never been attracted to slasher/horror films, but this was deeply psychological about a woman and her daughter. She loses the daughter and has to spend the whole film getting her daughter back, and comes to terms with her own guilt and shame.

How supernatural does it get?

Maria Bello: It gets pretty supernatural. You'll have to see it.

Who do you play in the 9/11 project?

Maria Bello: I'm so excited about it and so proud to be playing the woman that I'm playing.

Is she a real life person?

Maria Bello: Yeah, and she is one of the most compassionate, strongest woman I've ever met. I play the wife of Nick Cage. He's a Port Authority worker. That's all I know and all I can say at this point.

Dont't forget to also check out: A History of Violence