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Maria Bello Actress

Maria Bello

With a commanding presence, Maria Bello has quicky emerged as a leading dramatic actress. From getting her first start as "Dr. Anna Del Amico" on TV series "ER", to starring with Mel Gibson in "Payback", Maria quickly catapulted herself towards leading lady status. Nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the 2003 movie "The Cooler", she shows no signs of slowing down. Pennsylvania-born Maria Bello went to Villanova University to be a political science major, but a drama class altered her career plans. Following college, Bello honed her acting skills in a number of New York theater productions before she was cast as the co-lead in the short-lived TV spy comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1996). Bello gained major primetime exposure, however, playing Dr. Anna Del Amico on NBC's top hit ER during the 1997 season and soon jumped to movies with her performance as recovering junkie Ben Stiller's confidante in Permanent Midnight (1998). While Permanent Midnight was not popular, Bello scored her first hit as Mel Gibson's beautiful cohort in the harsh crime drama Payback (1999). Poised to potentially become one of the select group of actors who have made the transition from TV to film smoothly, Bello co-starred as one of the bottle-tossing, bar-stomping babes in charge of the titular drinking establishment in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Coyote Ugly (2000).

Active in the arts off-screen as well, Bello co-founded the Harlem not-for-profit arts and education program, Dream Yard Drama Project for Kids. After Coyote Ugly failed to live up to box office hopes, Bello starred as Ruth Harkness in the IMAX feature based on her experiences with the eponymous creatures, China: The Panda Adventure (2001). Bello finally scored a bona fide critical, if not financial, hit with Paul Schrader's biopic about murdered Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane, Auto Focus (2002). As Crane's co-star and second wife Patricia, Bello held her own opposite Greg Kinnear's bravura performance as the sex addicted Crane, evoking the complex emotions of a spouse who accepts yet ultimately cannot live with her husband's demons.

A year after Auto Focus, Bello would score even bigger with the critics with a starring role alongside William H. Macy in the gritty Vegas romance The Cooler. As the cocktail waitress who falls for Macy's sadsack ne'er-do-well, Bello was rewarded for the extreme realism she brought to her character and the film with a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild and a runner-up prize from The National Society of Film Critics. Early in 2004, Bello could be seen with Johnny Depp and John Turturro in the Stephen King adaptation The Secret Window. Contrasting that film's luke-warm reviews, Bello next showed up in director John Sayles' well-received political thriller Silver City. Maria Elana Bello was born on April 18, 1967.

More fun stuff about Maria Bello


Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Practices Muay Thai (lethal) kickboxing.

Comes from a Polish and Italian Family.

Maria and her TV exec boyfriend, Dan McDermott, welcomed their first child, Jackson Blue McDermott. [5 March 2001]

Was a bridesmaid at Andrea Bendewald's wedding. The same wedding in which Jennifer Aniston was the matron of honor.

Became good friends with Mariska Hargitay when Hargitay had a recurring role as Cynthia Hooper on ER from 1997-1998.

Worked as a bartender, dog walker and cleaned houses

Co- founded the Dream Yard Project For Kids, a non-profit arts and education program for children in Harlem. She has travelled to Africa where she spoke to children and gathered material for a book examining the values of children from different cultures.

Learned Moi Thai for her role as Mrs. Smith in the series MR. & MRS. SMITH.

Maria Bello Gets Into the Action in "Assault on Precinct 13"

Known for her work in dramatic movies ("The Cooler," "Auto Focus"), Maria Bello takes a stab at the action film genre in "Assault on Precinct 13," the 2005 updated version of John Carpenter's classic '70s movie.

In "Assault on Precinct 13," Maria Bello plays a police psychologist who has a flirtatious relationship with a troubled sergeant (played by Ethan Hawke). In a 'doctor, heal thyself'-type of twist, Bello's character suffers from OCD which she keeps under control by counting.

Showing up in Beverly Hills to promote "Assault on Precinct 13" minus her long hair and sporting a new, very flattering above-the-shoulders style, Maria Bello talked about the pleasurable experience of working with Laurence Fishburne and the rest of the "AP13" cast. Bello also talked about a few of her other projects - and corrected the Internet rumor which had her playing a role in Robert Rodriguez/ Frank Miller's "Sin City:"

INTERVIEW WITH MARIA BELLO ('Alex'):

You look great with short hair.
Thank you! I worked for the last 10 months and every director I’ve worked for, I’ve said “I think this character should have short hair.” And the directors, who were all male, said, “No!” So I finished this shoot and my hair dresser chopped it off – just for me! So I don’t have to ask anyone for permission on how I wear my hair. That’s kind of a drag.

If they want you with long hair, you could always wear extensions.
Yeah. I don’t know why they won’t let me. So many actors wear wigs nowadays. Besides, if someone is hiring me because of how I wear my hair, I don’t want to work with them anyway.

Was this shoot a fun experience for you?
It sure was. Laurence [Fishburne] said that some days it felt like we were on a playground together. It was like theater summer camp. We were all so excited to work together. We all have sort of that theatrical base, and we were invested in playing and making the story good. We had a great great time together.

This isn’t your normal type of project. How did you get involved?
I was sent this script with interest in me to play ‘Alex,’ and I wasn’t quite sure about it, about the part. As it was originally written – it’s original inception - she was quite staid and in control for the whole movie, and she had moments of where maybe she was going off the deep end, but not quite. And when I met with Jean-François, the director, and James DeMonaco, the writer, I said, “I think she has to go more off the deep end and I think that just because she is a psychiatrist, she doesn’t have to be so straight. I think that she should be really odd because I think psychiatrists are really odd human beings.” I’ve met quite a few of them so I can say that. Actually, I ran into one last night at a movie, this psychiatrist that I met a couple of times, and I find him really odd. I looked at him and I said that I’m sure you are the most neurotic person inside.

So are you going to be an action movie star now? Is this a new genre for you?
Oh, I don’t know. I always say that I’m dying to do it. This was my first action film and I loved it, but I’m the girl who can’t handle a gun, who can’t run, but that’s okay. I really like the idea of a normal person in extraordinary circumstances and then how do they handle that. I never want to be an action hero that’s, you know, slick. Cool. I want to be the kind that is a bumbler. You know, someone who just can’t quite do it right. So hopefully this will be the beginning of that.

I’ve done very dramatic movies in the last 10 months. They were just so heavy and dramatic – I just want to do a comedy. I want to do more action adventures and more romantic comedies.

So your turn in “Sin City” is very dramatic?
I am not in “Sin City. That’s a big fat lie. I know it’s on imdb.com and everyone keeps asking me about it, but I’m not in that movie. Weird.

Were there any problems with working with this director in terms of the language differences?
No. The thing about Jean-Françoise is that he is so enthusiastic…and he is so expressive with his eyes and his body. It was like he comes from a child-like place and we actors are such children, so we all understood one another. You would know what he was saying from his gestures and his hand moments. From his eyes and his grunts. We knew exactly what he wanted and he was getting it. He is a very strong leader and we trusted him.

Had you seen the original movie before shooting this?
It wasn’t until after I decided to do the film that I saw the original movie. I liked it. For the time I think it was very provocative and, you know, campy and violent. But when I looked at this film on the page, it’s quite a different movie. It’s not a remake. It’s more of a retelling of the original story. I think our movie, this telling of it, is a lot edgier and more modern.
Would you have done "Assault on Precinct 13" if it was just a remake of the original?
I don’t think about stuff like that, you know? People asked me a lot of questions [in previous interviews such as], “What about all of these remakes that are being done?” And I said, “What remakes?” You know, I don’t know. For me, I just read the script and either I like it or I don’t. Now in this one I felt invested in the character, and I felt that I could do something interesting with it. I decided to do it and I’m so glad that I did. Working with all of these extraordinary actors.

Was it your idea to have the character count as a way of controlling herself?
She has OCD and James DeMonaco had a bit of that in there. But I told him, “Oh no, she should go all the way! As she gets more and more stressed, she should just go out there!” When she completely loses it, the only thing she can do to stay sane is the counting. And I have a thing with my 9 multiplication tables that I constantly do over and over so you’ll see some of that in there, too. Like the scene where we are sitting in the car – I’m just doing my 9’s and 5’s over and over again.

Why do you feel that your character had to take that risk and go on the mission to get help when she was the most helpless compared to all the others?
Well, I think that when she landed into the depths of her own terror – when she really had to confront herself… In the beginning of the movie she was so staid and in control. And the thing, that cat and mouse game [she plays with Ethan Hawke’s character], she is still on top of it and in control. But when she falls apart and has to come to terms with her own helplessness, and then she faced the reality of “Yeah, I’ll probably die in this,” she has to find that ounce of courage to walk out the door. But I think it is like at the moment of if you have to jump off a cliff – do you stay or do you jump? I think she thinks, “Well I might die anyway so I might as well jump.” I don’t think there is brave moment for her where she is like, “Yes! I can do this!” It’s more like I’m going die on the cliff or I’m going to die jumping. And she decides to jump.

Have you gotten your action “jones” taken care of?
No! Actually Aisha Hinds and I got to be really good friends during the shoot - and that stuff in the car that we have when we have this kind of “Thelma and Louise” moment – we made up so much more that’s not in the movie between our relationship. We talked about doing this female “Lethal Weapon”-type of movie, she and I.

What type of stuff did you two make up that didn’t get included in the movie?
Oh, she lets it slip that she has a daughter and my character is like, “Oh wow, you have a daughter?” And she was like, “Yeah.” We did this because we were trying to humanize her. We wanted people to know that she is a woman and a wife and a mother. Not just some gang girl. You get a tiny bit of that in the film, but not everything we did is there. And then my character is like, “Oh my gosh, you have a daughter?” She says yes and asks if I have a family. I’m like, “No, but I have a cat.” So there are these little moments of humanizing.

You think that because of the part Aisha plays, she is this bad ass. But in real life she is the most girly-girl diva. The first time we met, we went to this spa in Toronto to run our lines. There we are naked, getting our nails done, and talking about how we were going to do various scenes. We just had a great time together. It’s always like that when you do a movie. You meet one or two people who stay with you for life and she is mine for this movie.

It sounds like you all had a lot of fun on the set. Was this one of your favorite set experiences?
Oh yeah. I mean there is always one person on the set who has a lot of anxiety, an actor who is really intense and has to stay in character and holds himself away from the rest of us. An you’re like, “Oh Jesus Christ.” Or a director who is really brutal and anxious. We had none of that. We would have a really intense scene and then when it was over someone was like, “Anyone want coffee and a smoke?” It was just kind of free flowing and easy. And this particular group of actors, I would work with everyday if I could.

That’s unusual to get such a good cast of characters for basically an action film.
But that is a huge credit to Jean-François. I heard great stories about him when they were trying to cast this movie. The studio had different ideas about what the characters should be. “Well, this character is white and this one is black and well this one would be 20 and ummm this one…” And Jean–Françoise (imitating Jean Francois with a French accent), “I don’t care how old they are and what color they are. We just get the right actors. This is the actor I want.” He wanted fine actors who could really elevate this story, this action movie.
How did you work out your scenes with Ethan Hawke? They were pretty intense at times.
You know, from the first day that we met to rehearse, he worked every day – 15 hour days for 3 months straight. And by the last week of it, he had the same energy and enthusiasm that he had the first day. His presence of being really into it and enthusiastic about it is who he is as a human being and as an artist. So he would show up for the scenes that day with this power and excitement and asking, What should we do? How should we play it?” And we would work them and re-work them and just play back and forth. It was just like throwing a ball back and forth to each other.

I really love his work. I love his acting. I just saw “Before Sunset” – the movie that he and Julie Delpy helped write - and I was just riveted. Did you see that? Did you like it? I loved it. It wasn’t just about two people walking around Paris. I was never bored for a minute. You really get to know those two people. And you get to know yourself, in a way. Especially if you are a mature person who has kind of had this love experience. You understand the essence of what they are discussing and feeling.

Can you talk about your character in the “The History of Violence” with Viggo Mortensen?
I have had great experiences this year- I have to say that. All the jobs I’ve done – they’ve been great crews and casts. David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors ever. His sensibility is so bizarre and gets to you emotionally. But you meet him and you think he is going to be this bizarre guy, but he is the most down-to-earth, sweetest family man you’ve ever met in your life. But I think that is why he can tell stories that are so bizarre and dark, because he is in touch with his lightness.

Viggo and I play a married couple who live in the Midwest and Ed Harris shows up one day – he is this mob guy from Philly - and it is a case of mistaken identity. He thinks Viggo is somebody he’s not. Our whole lives start to unravel. This violence comes into our little small town lives.

I want to say it was an intense shoot. It was some days. I had some of the hardest scenes in my life, Viggo and I had to do. I’m not a very nervous actor. I find that if I work from a very joyful, a playful place, it’s easy and it’s fun. But I had some days when I came to set literally just shaking, thinking, “I can not possibly do this scene.” I was just terrified because it was quite, quite intense. But we just sure had fun. David Cronenberg was an incredible leader/father figure.

You said that you have been doing a lot of dramas lately. Why do you think the directors look to you for dramas and not comedies?
I don’t know! I think people who know me would describe me as kind of quirky funny. But the roles that I’ve done just haven’t been that, you know? I tend to take roles that are a little quirky, but dramatic as well. I’m drawn to that. But right now I’m interested in expressing a different side.

Are you getting any good scripts for comedies?
Some, but not a whole lot. I said I’ve worked for 10 whole months – I have a boy who is going to be 4 in March and he has been all over the world this year. He’s been to Toronto, Oregon, London and Wales. Finally I got done working on November 12th and decided that I needed to be home with my boy. You know, just hang out with him and focus all of my attention there. Only if I just love something and I can’t say no is when I’ll work. I don’t have anything lined up and I don’t really care at this point, to be honest. Unless something blows me over, I’d rather just be with him and do my pottery and hang-out and be neurotic. Does your son want to be an actor?
He always says, “When am I going to do my movie?” “Umm, when you’re 18.” And that’s the truth. I wouldn’t let him doing anything until he’s 18 and can decide for himself. Let him finish high school and then make that decision. I have no control over his soul’s journey and where it’s going to lead him. That, I don’t know. But he sure is fascinated with filmmaking. Actually, he’s really into directing. He likes to tell everyone what to do. My last movie with David Cronenberg he would sit in David’s chair behind the monitor and he would go, “David, I think they should do that one again.”
Have you ever thought about directing?
I’ve thought about it. I’ve been working on a screenplay and I’ve toyed with doing it one day, but I don’t think I’m organized enough. I’m quite all over the place. Like I’m giving a baby shower for my friend next week for 40 people and I started calling them yesterday. “Can you come? Can you bring something? I don’t know – a bagel?” I’m not terribly organized and I think a director has to be organized, or they have to be good at delegating, and I’m not good at delegating either. So it’s probably not my gift.

But you’re working on a screenplay?
Yes. I’ve been writing an awful lot over the last 20 years. You know, I have almost a complete novel and a bit of this screenplay and a bit of that screenplay. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to put my writing out there. That takes a lot of courage and I don’t know if I have it.

How is that harder than putting yourself out there as an actor?
Well, as an actor, I’m always hiding behind a character to a certain extent. But in writing, you really put your soul on the page and say, “Here I am. Have at it.” No matter what you write it’s personal, even if it’s fiction, just based on your soul’s journey and who you are and what your life has been.

Let’s say you could organize your thoughts and put them onscreen. What would you like to do? Or better yet, what would you like to see onscreen?
That’s a good question. What I want to see on screen… I’m an actor with very pedestrian taste in a way. I grew up on “Indiana Jones” and “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard” movies. And they are still movies I really want to see. I went to see the ‘most critically acclaimed movie’ last night and I’m sitting there during it going, “Oh my God! I’m going to kill myself!” There were so many minutes where I just wanted to walk out because a lot of times I don’t want to go to the movie and have to learn and have to get emotional with myself and investigate myself. I just want to go away. I just want a fantasy. I’m really present in my real life and I don’t want to do that in a movie. I want to just be in a fantasy world so I’m dying to do that sort of movie. I love normal people in extraordinary circumstances and how they deal with that. That will be my next thing.

Meet Maria Bello

Maria Bello is not your typical blond beauty. Instead of opting for fluffy romantic comedies, she goes for tough-talking street-smart characters in such films as Coyote Ugly, Payback, Auto Focus and Permanent Midnight. Her fashion sense is just as edgy. A self-proclaimed "vintage Vogue kind of girl,'' Bello, who's up for a Golden Globe for her work in The Cooler, devotes a good chunk of free time to shopping for perfect retro ensembles. Calling from a Los Angeles design house while trying on dresses for Sunday's Globe show, she chatted about her compatibility with Chanel and her love for Levi's.

The designer I love most: "Chanel is my tippy-top favorite. I love their stuff {ellipsis} because their designs are so classic but still have edge."

I define my style as: "I'm a pure vintage Vogue kind of girl. I go from wearing a vintage Valentino to shopping at the local flea market and buying old dresses and having them re-cut to my shape. I love taking something vintage and making it my own."

My skin miracle: "Nivea Skin-Firming Lotion. I have the driest skin in the world and this cream is so sleek and smooth and silky, you never need to worry about your skin again. After three weeks your skin is glowing."

Beauty secret: "I keep a journal. I write in it every morning. It helps me keep my sanity and it calms me and helps me stay focused on what is important to me. Just take a tiny bit of time to do that for yourself. It's a beauty secret for the inside of your body."

A current trend I love: "I love the 1930's flapper look that's going on right now. I kind of did something like that for the première of The Cooler in Los Angeles."

Guilty pleasure treat: "Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. Right out of the pint."

My accessory obsession: "My grandmother just moved out of her house after 50 years. She has a huge jewelry chest with all kinds of vintage pieces. I picked out several and I love wearing them whenever I can -- with gowns or with jeans. They go with anything."

Favorite pair of jeans: "My Levi's. I don't know how to explain them, they're somewhere in between straight leg and flared. You can't find them in any store because they're an exclusive design. Levi's sent them to me as a gift. They're very faded and they're hip huggers and they have all these holes and rips all in them. I can't get enough of them, I wear them all the time."

My favorite celebrity perk: "I'm such a Cinderella. For me, it's being able to get all dressed up and go to the ball. Even though sometimes I have a difficult time choosing what to wear, I love trying on beautiful dresses and playing the part. I mean, all these designers shower you with gorgeous stuff and you literally get to be Cinderella for a day. I'm actually at a design house right now. It's called Film Fashion and it's great! I came to try on dresses for the upcoming awards season. It's so much fun!''

Maria Bello Grins And Bears It For Save The Children

Bello is one of 10 celebrities who have designed teddy bears that are being auctioned off on eBay to benefit Save The Children.

Each celebrity created a bear befitting their style, and because Bello is obsessed with African culture, she chose to dress her teddy to resemble the kids living in the Sudan.

In her words, "I call it my `Muna' bear and it's wearing beads around his neck and a red cloth around its body."

Naturally, she hopes the sale of the bear raises as much money as possible but she hopes whoever buys it actually plays with it and doesn't just lock it in a glass booth.

As she puts it, "When I was a child, I felt I had to play with all my stuffed animals or else they would get lonely."

Other celebs who have built bears include "Exorcist" icon actress Linda Blair, magician David Copperfield and baseball pitcher Al Leiter.

Maria Bello: Hot for 'The Cooler'

For years, Maria Bello has been one of those actresses just under the radar. Despite raves for her performances in the movies "Permanent Midnight" and "Auto Focus," she's still best known for playing Anna Del Amico, one-time love interest of Noah Wyle's Dr. Carter, in "ER."

But that status may be about to change. Bello recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as a cocktail waitress in "The Cooler." She helps a sad-sack casino employee, played by William H. Macy, turn his life around.

Recently, CNN anchor Daryn Kagan spoke with Bello about the movie, the nomination and her career.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Maria Bello's with us from Los Angeles to talk about her new film. Congratulations.

MARIA BELLO, ACTRESS: Thank you so much. How are you?

KAGAN: Doing great. It's a happy morning to be talking to you. You have [the] Golden Globe [ceremony] coming up ...

BELLO: Yes, it's really all just so exciting. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. California time to do the satellite interviews [when nominated]. I walked into the green room and the TV was on and I was being announced. It was really exciting.

KAGAN: Let's talk about your character of Natalie. William H. Macy [is] so unlucky until your character comes along and changes his luck.

BELLO: He's -- Macy plays the cooler. He gets near a table in Vegas and everyone starts losing. And they call me Lady Luck. I suppose, I'm a cocktail waitress very down on her luck. We meet and fall in love as two people do. We fall in love with each other and fall in love with our own broken pieces I guess.

KAGAN: This is a long way, I think most will recognize you who haven't seen the movie from "ER" and you're days as Dr. Anna ... Del Amico. Yes. This character is very different from the "ER" doc.

BELLO: Yes, quite different from my Dr. Del Amico character, I think.

KAGAN: You play a cocktail waitress. Did you realize when you took the part -- I went to see the movie yesterday. I enjoyed it a lot, by the way. Did you realize how much nudity would be involved?
BELLO: You know, I'm a bit of a hippie chick.

KAGAN: So that was OK.

BELLO: I never thought about it. When I read the script I was blown away by the writing. It's rare to have such beautifully drawn characters across the board. And just to hear the words William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin in the same sentence was enough for me to say, "Oh, please, I really want to do the movie." ...

We shot this movie in five weeks. I think the budget was $2.5 million. It's amazing now to me that people have come out to see it. It's becoming a big film.

KAGAN: How do you compete? You have the tiny budget, a short production schedule. This is a year of so many huge epics whether it's "Lord of the Rings," "Last Samurai," "Cold Mountain." How does a little movie like this one make it in that big company?

BELLO: I think it's many things. Mostly I think it's the writing. I think it's the acting, certainly the directing. But I also think it's marketing and the company -- Lion's Gate is distributing this. It's just done a great job. They really love movies. They understand, you know, good art-house films and how to make them commercial and I think they're doing that.

KAGAN: We'll give people the heads up to go see it. I think the big question of the movie and especially your character ... [is] "what is luck?" And do you consider yourself a lucky person I was wondering?

BELLO: I think I'm the luckiest person in the world, but I do believe we make our own luck. And I think it's from the energy that we put out into the world that's kind of what we get back. And so I have to work every day to be grateful for what I have, and I believe that that creates our lives.

KAGAN: You must be putting some good stuff out there because good stuff coming your way. We wish you luck. We'll see you at the Golden Globe Awards. I'll be there. So I'll look for you at the red carpet.

BELLO: Oh, good. I'll talk to you then.

KAGAN: OK, very good. Maria Bello, "The Cooler."

Maria Bello's A Karaoke Addict

Maria Bello has become completely hooked on karaoke after starring in Bruce Paltrow's karaoke film Duets (2000). The blonde stunner, who sings through several scenes with co- stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis in the movie is now a total karaoke addict - and grabs a microphone every chance she gets. She says, "My friends and I have become completely addicted. Even last week, we had a party for a friend, 30 people in a backyard in Hollywood with a karaoke DJ singing till two in the morning."


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