August 8, 2008
I’Ve Dreamed All My Life of Being Indiana Jones
DURING the past ten years, Maria Bello has been known more for her serious dramatic roles in critically-acclaimed indie hits such as The History Of Violence and The Cooler. So to see her in a sword- wielding, kickass action role in the third Mummy film is something of a surprise.
But not for the 41-year-old actress herself. The US star, who takes on the role of Evelyn alongside Brendan Fraser in the film, has long dreamed of starring in an action flick.
"I really wanted to be an action hero so I trained a lot in sword fighting. I had amazing trainers from China and Canada and a great stunt double. I also loved the shooting range. When Brendan had a gun I always wanted a bigger gun. It was a real dream come true for me.
"I related to Evelyn as an adventurous soul," she adds. "I always considered myself a bit of a gypsy.
"In second grade, I read romance novels - I was addicted to them.
They were always about some woman who dressed like a man, sneaked onto a ship whereupon the captain fell in love with her.
She'd be a great swordsman and a great fighter. I just always wanted to be that heroine."
With the likes of martial arts experts Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh on set, the pressure was on for Maria to shape up and fully embrace her new action persona.
However, the actress admits she wasn't quite up to scratch in that department.
"It was really fun but the truth is I'm not an exerciser," she laughs.
"I would never work out. I was eating hotdogs and drinking wine and smoking cigarettes every night. Meanwhile, Brendan Fraser who has never been more buff in his life, would come to set every day with rice cakes and work out two hours a day. I don't know how he did it."
Despite her lack of fitness, Maria's seven-year-old son Jackson, was pretty impressed with his mum's action skills.
"He's real proud of me for fighting.
He used to come to training with me and they let him go on the wires. Also it's one of my first movies he can ever see," she adds, laughing.
Maria takes over the role of Evelyn from British actress Rachel Weisz who, as a new mum, didn't fancy the long movie shoot in China.
As a result, Maria had to adopt Rachel's English accent in the film, which she didn't find easy.
"The funny thing is, I can do my lines from the movie but if you asked me to do an English accent right now I couldn't do it," she says.
"I have never been very good at the accent. It's funny, though, as Jackson still does it once in a while because he heard me talk like that during the movie. He'll say, 'Can I have a spot of tea please mum?"' Luckily she got some help with the English way of speaking from British actress and friend Alice Evans, who is married to Fantastic Four-star Ioan Gruffudd.
"She gave me a tape at the beginning of the movie with someone doing all my lines and I said, 'I recognise that voice'. It was Alice," recalls Maria.
"So I feel like I was channelling Alice with my British accent in the movie. I also had a voice coach."
And if the English accent wasn't enough, Maria also had to tackle a role made famous by another actress.
"I knew from the beginning, from the other two Mummy movies which I loved, that I could never fill Rachel's shoes," Maria admits. "She is so brilliant and beautiful in that role.
"Rob Cohen, the director, said to me, 'If that character was Audrey Hepburn, this character is like Katherine Hepburn at 40' - a little bit more staid and mature, with a 20-year-old son. So we decided to create our own character and I think she's quite different."
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