Maria Bello on The Mummy

Actress Maria Bello is famous for roles in movies such as A History Of Violence and Coyote Ugly. She stars alongside Brendan Fraser in the soon-to-be-released action adventure, The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor – and here, she discusses ninjas, the paparazzi and kick-ass stunts…

What does it feel like to be in an action movie, Maria?

Ever since I was a kid reading romance novels, I always dreamed about being an action hero. When I saw the first Indiana Jones movies, I said: “That’s who I want to be.” I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I didn’t want to be the girl in Indiana Jones, I wanted to be Indiana. I don’t know how I turned out to be known as this dramatic actress because over the years people would ask me about my dream role and I would always say Indiana Jones. I couldn’t believe it when I was offered this part as it really was a dream come true.

What can Mummy fans expect from the third movie?

Director Rob Cohen has really changed the franchise. There’s much more action and the action stems from real character-driven stuff. There’s a great story, as well as some amazing special effects that I can’t wait to see. They’re pretty out of control.

Did you have to physically train for the role?

I did two months of martial arts training before I started the movie. I did wushu, sword fighting, kick boxing and I worked on wires. It was a lot of fun.

Did you do your own stunts?

I did as much as I could possibly do – and I had a real blast doing it. I had this incredible stunt double from Canada called Corinne and she was brilliant. There are some things she’s worked years on perfecting – like doing flips out of cars – and she always made me look cooler than I really was. When you see the cool moves in the film, it will be her.

Do you live in Hollywood?

No, I live down the road in Venice Beach, California. Hollywood has never been my sensibility really. My neighbourhood is a real neighbourhood with a lot of teachers, artists and artisans.

Do the paparazzi leave you alone in Venice Beach?

Oh yeah, there’s nothing like that down in Venice Beach. Thankfully the paparazzi stick to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They leave us alone over here.

With Hollywood so close by, how do you keep grounded?

I have a seven-year-old son – and the older he gets, the more I realise that raising a child is so much more interesting and important than doing another movie. In that way, I feel more grounded as I go on. I also came from a blue collar family from Philadelphia. My dad was disabled when I was a kid and my mum was a nurse. We were just regular people who are really interesting. I guess it’s in my blood.

Your son must have been excited to see his mother working on a Mummy movie…

My son actually came to China with us while we shot the movie. I have photos of him in the desert playing soccer with 50 extras who were dressed as ninjas and mummies. We have a video of it, too. He will never forget it. He had a blast.

How difficult was it to learn a British accent for the film?

I really enjoyed doing the accent, but it became easy because I had a voice coach. I had to do vocal exercises every day and I worked for months beforehand on perfecting it.

Did you practice with your son?

Yes, and I still do it now. He’s like, “Mum, will you stop it. I hate that accent!” At one point, he started doing as well. [Puts on British accent] “Mum, can I have a cup of tea please?” It was really fun to do.

Is there any chance for more from The Mummy franchise?

I’m not sure, but I hope so. Of course I’d sign up if they decided they wanted to do another one. Count me in!

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