Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Monica Bellucci, Toronto, Sept. 8, 2007

MONICA BELLUCCI WAS NOT, OF COURSE, A "BOND GIRL" when I photographed her at the film festival in 2007. Today she's the oldest ever Bond girl, and says in interviews that she'd prefer to be called a "Bond woman." Which is probably true enough, but I don't think it's going to stick.

I obviously haven't seen Spectre yet so I can't say anything about Bellucci's turn as Lucia Sciarra, the wife of an assassin made a widow by Bond. As Daniel Craig himself has pointed out, Bellucci is the first age-appropriate Bond girl ever; she's 51 and Craig is 47, though to be fair it always seemed to me that Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore was fully the equal of Sean Connery's Bond in Goldfinger, both in age and temperament. (Blackman was actually five years older than Connery when they made the film, so Craig is really talking out of his hat.)

I did my shoot with Bellucci in a suite at the Hotel Intercontinental, where she was promoting Le Deuxième Souffle, a French gangster film that also featured Daniel Auteuil and soccer star Eric Cantona. This was seven years after Malena, the film that established her as a great international screen beauty after a modeling career and a decade's worth of European films.

Monica Bellucci, Toronto, Sept. 8, 2007

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was excited and a bit intimidated by the prospect of shooting Bellucci. I have shot beautiful people before, but few whose reputation was quite as gilt-edged, and the part of me that worships at the altar of Hollywood glamour photographers like George Hurrell was busy imagining the shots I'd be getting.

The room where I shot was set up for television interviews, so I asked if I could commandeer a couple of quartz heads instead of doing my usual scout for the best patch of available light. As soon as Bellucci was standing in the crossfire of lights, though, I knew that the Hurrell glamour shot was not going to happen. There might have been a time and a place for that, but a couple of minutes in a stuffy hotel suite filled with tripods and light stands was not going to be either.

I wanted a glamour shot but I ended up with a rather clinical portrait of a beautiful woman in middle age, denied the talents of stylists or makeup artists. Make no mistake - I have done a little bit of Photoshop retouching on these shots, but nowhere near as much as I'd have been asked to make to meet the standards of a publicist or a fashion glossy. I like the results mostly because of their starkness, but I'm certain that photos like this are the reason why photographers at the film festival no longer have access to movie stars such as Bellucci any more.


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