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Interview: Maria Bello

Maria Bello talks about her latest Role in the film Third Person


Q. What were the key elements in the script that attracted you to this project?


A. Paul Haggis is such an extraordinary writer. He can tell a very complicated, complicated story that works on so many different levels of peoples’ psyches. And this movie, in particular, does that about relationships.

Q. You brought a lot of raw emotion to your performance. Where did you pull that emotion from?


A. The way that Paul built the character is that she had a back story, which the audience really doesn’t know about and, because she already had [one] – I don’t want to say it was easy – but he made it easier for me to react in those scenes the way I did with Mila [Kunis]. I play Mila’s lawyer in a custody battle. And sometimes you can’t understand why I’m representing her and why I’m so forceful in that and why isn’t she being a good enough mother. Then you find out later what my scars are.


Q. You mostly act alongside Mila Kunis. What was it like working with her and did she help you develop your character?


A. She is such a talented actress and was so fun to play with. Mila’s very raw and open so it helped me very much that she was so open. At the same time, I had this big old secret that [this character] was keeping, so I was acting with her in one way but I had all this other stuff going on.

Q. How did being a mother, yourself, influence your approach to this character?


A. This movie is about so many things but, in its essence, it’s about love; whether that’s romantic love, sexual love, parental love, or familial love. The biggest thing this film was about, for me, was parental love. And it hit me and moved me very deeply thinking about my own 12-year-old son and what that would be like: the complications of that.


Q. How does director Paul Haggis differ from other directors you’ve worked with?


A. It’s very rare to have a director that’s also the writer who’s excellent at both of those things and Paul is. He’s an incredible, incredible writer. He goes to such depth in telling these stories and, to have him directing it, as well – he knows exactly what he wants and exactly what he needs to tell this particular story. So, as an actor, you know what you’re getting into and you’re in safe hands.

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