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Monica Bellucci

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Italy has exported some gorgeous actresses to our shores, and Monica Belluccibrings the va-va-voom last seen by another 'spicy meatball,' Sophia Loren. Monica was born on September 30, 1964 in  Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy. She started modeling at age 16 and used the money she made to pay for her tuition at the University of Perugia, where she was working her way towards a career in law. The glare of the flashbulbs and glamorous life of a model was too tough to resist and she gave up her education to model full-time. In 1988, she moved to Milan and signed with Elite Model Management, landing gigs with Dolce & Gabbana and French ELLE. Wanting to join the models before her who made the foray into movies, she also began to take acting lessons and got her first exposure to American audiences with a small role in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula, playing the role of Gary Oldman's bride. She has gone on to make many films in her native Italy, including 2000's Malèna, which re-introduced her to America - at least the art-house audiences and the controversial Irréversible in 2002, which featured a shockingly realistic rape scene. Monica is best known to US audiences for her role as 'Persephone' in the Matrix sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. She must enjoy controversial movies, because she signed on to play 'Mary Magdalene' in 2004's The Passion of the Christ. Since then, she has continued to model and appeared in The Brothers Grimm with Heath Ledger and Matt Damon and her steamy sex scene with Clive Owen was the most talked-about part of the action flick Shoot 'Em Up.  With her beautiful looks and acting talents, we can add Monica Bellucci to the list of things we can thank Italy for.

Monica Bellucci

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