EXCLUSIVE: Why Casting Monica Bellucci on ‘Mozart’ Is a Full Circle Moment for Roman Coppola

by Stacy Lambe 10:31 AM PST, December 09, 2016
Monica Bellucci as Alessandra on 'Mozart in the Jungle.' Photo: Amazon

A major addition to the Golden Globe-winning series, Mozart in the Jungle, is Monica Bellucci, who plays Italian diva Alessandra in season three.

With the New York orchestra still in a labor dispute, Maestro Rodrigo De Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal) accepts an offer in Venice to conduct a comeback performance for the aging diva, also known as “La Fiamma.” At an age where she has to make a decision about her voice and repertory, Alessandra is caged by her own limitations, setting off an emotional roller coaster ride for both the conductor and opera singer.

“We’re not trying to be so realistic, but we like to be authentic,” says Roman Coppola, who serves as executive producer, writer and director of the Amazon series. While the show considered the age at which an opera singer’s voice might change, they thought that Bellucci, 52, was a perfect fit regardless. “She felt authentic.”

MORE: From 'Mozart' to 'Dreamland,' How Music Influences the Coppola Family

“She’s Italian, she’s fiery, and obviously, very beautiful and interesting and dynamic,” Coppola adds. “So, it just seemed like a no-brainer.”

And casting the actress in the coveted role was no coincidence for Coppola. Keeping with his family’s (unofficial) tradition of working with familiar collaborators, Bellucci’s addition was a full circle moment for the filmmaker.

Early in his career, Coppola served as a visual effects second unit director on 1992’s Bram Stroker’s Dracula, suggesting to his father, director Francis Ford Coppola, that he cast her as one of the brides opposite Gary Oldman, who played the title role in the romantic drama. It was Bellucci’s third major film role. “So, when it came up that she could be in Mozart, it pleased me,” Coppola says, admitting that he never brought it up to her after she was cast on the show.

Florina Kendrick, Michaela Bercu and Monica Bellucci as Dracula's Brides in 'Bram Stroker's Dracula.' Photo: Columbia Pictures

Following the critically acclaimed film, which was a box office smash and won three Academy Awards, Bellucci had a celebrated career, working on Italian and French language films. In 1996, she was nominated for a Cesar Award for The Apartment and international acclaim for Malèna and Irréversible. Over a decade after Dracula, she was cast as Persephone in the final two Matrix films, which she followed with The Passion of the Christ and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Most recently, Bellucci was cast in Spectre, making her the James Bond franchise’s oldest Bond girl to date. “For the first time in history, James Bond is going to have a story with a mature woman,” she told The Sunday Times about the role and, in fitting fashion, Daniel Craig also told ET casting her was a “no-brainer.”

“I’m not going to take any credit for her career, but it’s fun to know that you were involved with the early choice of bringing someone to the screen,” Coppola adds.

Following Mozart in the Jungle, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bellucci will next be seen in the highly anticipated continuation of Twin Peaks, when the drama returns on Showtime in 2017.