Maria Grazia Cucinotta was born in
Italy, in the Sicilian town of Messina, on July 27, 1969. Her good looks
came early and, when she was 16, she started modeling on the catwalks of
Milan. At that age, she was already voluptuous, which contrasted with the
other models of the era.
Still, it was just a summer job for Maria and she left modeling behind
when she graduated high school. In fact, she had never enjoyed modeling
because her body did all the work and she was never required to use her
Her lifelong dream was to be an actress, so she auditioned for a part on
the Renzo Arbore television show Indietro Tutta in Rome. She got the part
as a sexy concubine, which triggered her acting career.
But considering the seemingly endless supply of gorgeous actresses in
Italy, there was a lot of competition. Therefore, Maria began taking
acting classes as well as elocution lessons to divest herself of her
Sicilian accent. She also took the time to learn English.
A talent agency signed her and she continued making guest appearances on
small programs and variety shows. She was having a hard time finding movie
roles, so she turned to advertising. She started shooting TV commercials
and became quite in demand in this field, eventually appearing in ads for
Banca di Roma bank and Persol glasses.
It didn't take long for Maria to start meeting industry players who
offered her movie parts. At first, they weren't really glamorous roles,
but appearing in Viaggio d'amore (1990), Vacanze di Natale '90 (1990), and
Abbronzatissimi 2 - un anno dopo (1993) allowed her to pad her resume.
After playing in the miniseries La Ragnatela in 1991, Maria met with
renowned Italian actor/filmmaker Massimo Troisi, who was quite impressed
with her talent. He gave her a part as the love interest in Il Postino
(1994). Maria played a waitress with whom Troisi, a postman, is infatuated
but too shy to approach until he starts bonding with a reclusive writer.
Not only was this poetic love story an international blockbuster, but it
also won dozens of awards, including an Oscar for Best Original Dramatic
This was the kind of role Maria needed; it got her a fair amount of
recognition. Producers started sending her movie scripts and she appeared
in El Da de la bestia (1995), Leonardo Pieraccioni's successful I Laureati
(1995), Il Sindaco (1996), Italiani (1996), and Camere da letto (1997).
Armed with a thicker resume, she made her way to the United States where
she was offered a part in Frank Rainone's crime drama A Brooklyn State of
Mind (1997), starring Danny Aiello, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tony Danza, and
Jennifer Esposito. The film wasn't a huge hit, but it earned Maria a best
actress award at the New York International Independent Film & Video
1998 was a busy year for Maria. Following work in La Seconda moglie and
Ballad of the Nightingale with Michael and Virginia Madsen, she did two
television movies: Il Quarto re and Padre pap. In 1999, she played an
assassin trying to kill Pierce Brosnan's James Bond in The World Is Not
Enough. That same year, she made a guest appearance in an episode of The
After snatching the coveted lead role on Italian television's Maria
Maddalena (2000), she was in Picking Up the Pieces (2000) with Sharon
Stone and Woody Allen, and the Timothy Hutton comedy Just One Night
In 2001, she was in Stregati dalla luna, Strani accordi as well as the
television movie Tommaso. In 2002, she joined the cast of the TV series Il
Bello delle donne. Her sole project for 2003 was the television drama
Marcinelle and, in 2004, she starred in Mariti in affitto, also known
overseas as Rent-a-Husband, a comedy featuring Chevy Chase and Brooke
Maria has been married to businessman Giulio Violati since October 1995.
They live in Rome and she does everything in her power to make sure
tabloid reporters don't invade their privacy.