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MONICA BELLUCCI (Dr. Lena Kendricks) is the alluring European star now commanding attention on the international scene for her work in such films as Giuseppe Tornatore's Oscar®-nominated Malena and Christophe Gans' French boxoffice sensation The Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups), the latter opposite her husband, French actor Vincent Cassel.

Bellucci grew up in the Umbrian town of Citta di Castello, idolizing such global cinema icons as Sophia Loren, Anna Magnani, Gina Lollabrigida and Claudia Cardinale. Her own ascent to stardom began in Milan, where she was studying law when a friend urged her to try modeling. The vocation proved lucrative for Bellucci and took her from her university studies to work as an actress in the telefilm "Vita Coi Figli," a role she won after director Dino Risi saw her photo in a magazine.

She also captured the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola who cast Bellucci in her first American role, as one of Dracula's brides, in his 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. She returned to Italy and appeared in numerous films (IL Cielo è Sempre Più Blu, Palla di Neve and I Mitici, among others).

In her first French-language project, the 1996 thriller L'Appartement, Bellucci immediately garnered acclaim. She won a Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscar®), as well as the heart of her future husband Cassel. She has since worked with Cassel on seven projects, most recently in Irreversible, an official competition selection at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Other motion picture credits include Under Suspicion, Franck Spadone, Le Plaisir and Mediterranees.

She will next be seen starring opposite Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in the Wachowski Brothers' dual sequels The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, as well as Mel Gibson's next directorial effort The Passion, as Mary Magdalene.


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