Film critics are quick to compare Monica Bellucci to previous Italian beauties, but she is her own brand of sultry icon. With roles as a topless vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula, a taciturn war widow in Malèna (2000), a charmed courtesan in Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) (2002), and a sci-fi vixen in the Matrix sequels (2003), Bellucci has proved to be a bold blend of earthy and ethereal, actress and star.
Born on September 30, 1968, Bellucci grew up in the small Italian village of Citta di Castello, where her father owned a trucking company. At 18, she enrolled at the University of Perugia with plans to study law. To pay her tuition, Bellucci started modeling. Two years later, she dropped out of school to relocate to Milan, where she signed with Elite Model Management. Besides strutting the cat walk in fashion shows, Bellucci appeared in international advertising campaigns for designers such as Dolce & Gabbana. With her modeling career in full swing, she began to take acting classes and made her screen debut in the television film Vita Coi Figli (Life With the Sons) in 1990.