INT: Maria Bello

Maria Bello may be known for acclaimed roles in THE COOLER and AUTO FOCUS, but I’ll always love her for her performance as the hardy, tough-talking bar owner Lil in COYOTE UGLY. That classic was one of the films that inspired me to get into this business, and I’ll always be grateful. This week she stars alongside Viggo Mortensen in David Cronenberg’s much-anticipated thriller A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Sure, it’s not exactly COYOTE UGLY, but it’s worth checking out anyway.

Check out what Maria Bello had to say about A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, opening this Friday.

Maria Bello

It must be difficult to talk about this film without giving too much away.

It is, but we’ve been doing an ok job of that, I think. There are so many layers to the film and so much goes on.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

My character Edie is a lawyer in a small town who is married to Viggo’s character and we have to children.  It’s kind of a bucolic, lovely existence.  And then one day after Viggo saves people from a violent act, he suddenly becomes a hero and all of our lives start to change.  What my character goes through is confronting her sort of shadow, her dark side.  And she has to figure out who she is after that, ultimately.  In the last scene, people say, “Oh, are you sitting at the table thinking, ‘Who is this man, who is my son, who is my daughter’?”  No.  You know what I’m thinking about?  Who am I now?  I’ve been kind of splayed open, in terms of confronting my own deepest desires, my basest desire, which is to surrender. 

What preconceptions did you have about working with David Cronenberg?

I thought he was going to be so fucking weird.  (laughs)  I did.  I thought he was gonna be just an oddball.  I met him three months before this script even came into existence.  We had a dinner and we just chatted for three hours and by the end of it said, “We have to play together.”  And I couldn’t believe what a kind, down-to-earth, gentle person he was.  But now I understand it, because I think that somehow the more in touch you are with your shadow, the more you’re not afraid of it, the more you kind of display it on the screen and your art out in the world, the lighter you can be in your life because you don’t act out from that place of repression.

Did you have any preconceptions about Viggo?

I did, yes. I thought that he was certainly going to be an intense guy, from everything that I’ve read about him.  (laughs)  And he’s not.  He’s so lovely and light. He's a beautiful human being.

Do you and Viggo have similar acting styles? 

I think Viggo and David and I are very similar in general, because we’re all very process-oriented.  We’re all kind of existentially angsty and interested in questions of identity and character and (we) want to get in there and chew on things.  So we’re always questioning and very involved in the process of it.  So I think in that way we’re very similar.

Did you shoot this linearly? I imagine it would have been difficult otherwise.

It was.  It was difficult in that way to keep track.  We did try to shoot it so that the happy familial stuff is in the beginning.  We shot the last scene in the last week, which really helped. 

When you got the script, were you aware that it was based on a graphic novel?

No.  I had no idea until we got to the set.  And then David (Cronenberg) said, “Don’t read it. It has nothing to do with the comic.”  And then I read it after the fact.

What did you think of it?

I though it was good.  I don’t really like graphic novels so I’m not really into that sort of thing.  It was hard for me to read.

You have a child of your own, right?

I do.  I have a four-and-a-half year-old. 

So could you identify with the lengths that a mother would go to protect her child?

Oh my God, yes.  I couldn’t have played with part before I had a child.  I don’t think you understand what levels or what fears until you have a child of your own.  I mean, I’ve never loved someone so much and I’ve never been so afraid in my life.  And the truth is I would kill someone, whoever tried to hurt him.  I would.  I have no doubt about it. 

(Minor spoilers ahead)

You have some intense love scenes, especially, the last one.

That scene was so difficult, let me tell you.  We were all so tense about it for days.  And for days I was saying to Viggo and David, “We need to talk about this scene.  We have to figure out how it’s gonna go.”  And finally David said to me, “You know what, Maria?  We’re not.  Because you’re not in control of this one.”  The scene was about me losing control and surrendering to my desire.  So I was feeling very vulnerable and insecure, and thank God I was with these two great men that were sensitive enough to hold me that.  And me them, I think.  And so it was a very intense day and a half, when we shot that scene.  Not to mention physically.  What you saw on my back was three weeks later.

That was real?  (She had bruises on her back)

That was real, yeah.  The day after that, I was literally covered from my shoulders down past my ass, on to my legs and knees with black and blue and purple marks.

It’s funny because there were points when I was watching the film last night – I was sitting next to my father watching it. 


He’s gotten ok with it though the years, you know?  So he was kind of prepped.  And so during the cheerleader scene I turn to him and I go, “You ok?”  He’s like, “Yeah, it’s good.”  And he’s like a fisherman from New Jersey, right?  And so then I turn to him during the stairway scene and I see his face like this (cringes).  And I say, “You ok?”  “Yeah, I’m fine.”  Suddenly after that I walk out of the bathroom and I’m naked in my robe and he goes, “Jesus Christ!”  (Laughs)  He’s ok seeing his daughter get banged on the stairwell, but my pubic hair…(laughs)

When you make an intense film like this, do you learn new things about yourself?

Oh Lord yes.  Every film I make…I think I take a film because I’m in the process of discovering something about myself.  This one was no exception.  This is probably the most revealing process I’ve ever been through in making a film.  So six months after making the film I was basically just emotionally and spiritually exhausted.  It just took so much to get to those places in myself, with what I was going through personally as well, asking myself about my own identity and who I am in the world as opposed to who I really am and what that means for myself.  So I’m continuing to ask myself all of those questions.  I haven’t found any definitive answers, but here I am still in the process of it.

In the end, do you think that this is ultimately a hopeful movie?

I think it’s whatever anyone thinks it is.  But for me, that day…we’d spent three months together and it did feel like a family.  David said, “I don’t know what this scene is going to be.  You guys have been in these characters for three months; you figure it out.  When he walks in the door you’ll know.”  And it’s true.  As soon as we heard the door slam, Ashton (Holmes), Heidi (Hayes) and I kind of jumped and just immediately like welled up, all of us.  And to look up and see his sweet face, this man who we’ve loved for three months, as Viggo and as this character, to be so unsure and to still love this person, yes I think there is a hopefulness in that.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



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