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September 2005
A History of Violence: An Interview with Maria Bello

A History of Violence: An Interview with Maria Bello

By Wilson Morales

\I first met when her was cast as the bar owner in Jerry Bruckheimer's Coyote Ugly, and since then Mario Bello has been racking up some impressive roles as of late, especially with the amazing performance she gave in "The Cooler" with William H. Macy. With the exception of playing the floozy in "Assault of Precinct 13" with Ethan Hawke this year, Bello had a good role in "Silver City". Her next role is that of the wife of a man who becomes a town hero after saving the lives of his employees. In "A History of Violence", Bello plays Edie Stall, who after many years of marriage may not know her husband after all. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Bello goes over her sex scenes in the film and how motherhood has changed her acting choices.

The violent sex scene with Viggo Mortensen on those wooden stairs looks like it hurt.

Maria Bello: (Director) David (Cronenberg) likes to say Viggo and I limped onto set the next day. When you saw the bruise on my back (in another scene), that was three weeks later. I was covered from head to toe in black and blue and red bruises, Viggo too. His whole hip and his elbow (was swollen) out to here. I bit the inside of his lip and it (his lip) was swollen for like two days. We're just both like that. We really committed to it and couldn't help but get physical. I was really in pain after that scene. Emotionally it was very tough. I've been in my life such a control freak, less since I've had a child but in my work I always question how things are going to work and would talk about a scene for hours. For a week I was talking to David and Viggo about the scene, 'Ok what are the moves, where's your hand, where's my ass?' I find with (sex) scenes it's really important to block them out like that. He (David) said to me, 'Maria, you can't control this one.' The scene is about her finally losing control and she comes out with this animal instinct; a desire and a passion that she never knew existed before. Most women I know have a deep desire to surrender.

What is it about women being attracted to dangerous men?

MB: I don't think it's the bad boy element. When you talk about the bad boy element often we're talking about rejection to be honest. Most women that are attracted to bad boys is really someone who doesn't want them; that's why they call them bad. It's this clear identity of rejection and being attracted to rejection which is a whole other thing. I think being attracted to a testosterone guy who's in his own skin and OK with his masculinity-I just got hot when I said that! (laughs), there's something primal and animalistic about feeling safe enough to surrender and having to surrender because someone kind of takes you out of yourself. Pretty sexy.

Where does the fearlessness come from in your sexuality?

MB: I've never been one to separate a character's sexuality from what she has for breakfast in the morning. Some people call that fearless, I just call that natural. I don't like to make a big thing out of it. I just think I'm normal in my sexuality, not afraid of it.

Were there more sex scenes that didn't make the final cut?

MB: There was a pre-sex scene where we were in a waterfall. You'll see it on the DVD. I can't believe it's not in the film because it was one of the hardest scenes I ever had to film because it was the end of October. It was a skinny dipping scene in a waterfall in Toronto and we were freezing. By the end of the night I was crying, 'I can't go in there.'

What if the man you were in love with was not who you thought he was, how would you react?

MB: I'd kill him. The scene in the hospital (where she finds out her husband is not who she thought he was), I couldn't figure out what that scene was gonna be. I called David the night before and I said, 'is there a bathroom on the set?' He said, 'no but we could build one.' I said, 'OK build one.' The only thing I could think when I read that scene was I would vomit. There is something so physical about that because you're completely not in control of anything that you thought was your life.

Have you experienced violence in your own life?

MB: It has and it has informed my life in many ways in terms of who I've become. I was talking to a friend the other day about an image of walking up to a chair and there's someone sitting in the chair and what's going to happen if you up to the chair; are you going to be hit or not? I think my whole life is forcing myself to walk to the chair, to go, 'you know what whatever happens when I get there is gonna happen,' and I think a certain amount of violence informs that in me.

How has motherhood informed your choices?

MB: After I had my son (Jack) from the moment he came out of my body I felt more love than I could have ever imagined and I felt more fear than I could ever imagined. I can't even go to that place if something happened to Jack, what I would do. In the scene where (gangster) Ed (Harris) has my child (Ashton Holmes) we were just supposed to stand on the porch and my instinct was to kill this man, to do everything that that mother lioness would do to protect your child. I got that when I became a mother in a very deep way.

What was your experience of Viggo's Fish Fridays on the set?

MB: Viggo Mortensen loves fish. Everyone who doesn't know it in the USA and abroad, Viggo Mortensen has a thing for fish. It became a cooking scenario, it became a wearing scenario; it was just all about fish. I would like to say on the last day of shooting which was a Friday, Mr. Mortensen walked into his trailer and the first thing he saw and smelled was a three foot dead fish hanging from a chandelier. That was excellent! I think because the material was so intense we really needed something to lighten things up. I have my fish T-shirt. We wore them for a photo shoot for In Style.


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