Monica Bellucci

Born Sept. 30, 1964, in Città di Castello, Italy, actress Monica Bellucci planned to pursue a career in law, but had a change of heart when she began modeling to pay her law school tuition. By 1990, she'd made the shift from modeling to acting, landing a part on an Italian TV series.

Bellucci made her English-language debut with a small role in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. A slew of European films followed, and in 2000, she was back in front of American audiences, playing Gene Hackman's trophy wife in Under Suspicion.

Since then, the Italian actress has continued to alternate between European and American films, hitting the jackpot stateside with the big-budget sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both 2003) before turning in a more subdued performance as Magdalen in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.