When my husband really wants to annoy me he makes comments about actresses that are our age. “She’s really been taking terrible roles lately”, he said of Meryl Streep, for example. I rolled my eyes, as is my custom when he says stupid things, and then reminded him that at her age she is lucky to be working at all. Actors at her age can still play interesting and romantic roles as they please, but when an actress approaches 50 it’s a different story.
That’s one of the reasons that I admire Italian actress Margherita Buy, a beautiful 49 year old whose career doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. Virtually unknown in the United States, she’s worked with all the great modern Italian actors and directors in over 4 dozen roles. She’s the anti-diva, happy to work and be a mother to her daughter, evidently unconcerned with celebrity, and enjoying life in the city of her birth, Rome.
In Silvio Soldini’s Giorni e Nuvole, Days and Clouds, she played opposite veteran actor Antonio Albanese and with Giuseppe Battiston and won the David Di Donatello award for best actress. She’s brilliant in the role of Elsa, the privileged wife who gets knocked down a few pegs and has to figure out what to do with herself in her new life.
She proved that she wasn’t just a drama queen and that she could keep up with Italy’s funny man in Carlo Verdone’s “Maledetto il Giorno Che T’ho Incontrato” as the hilariously neurotic Camilla.
In Caterina Va in CIttà she played opposite Sergio Castellito for director Paolo Virzì (La Prima Cosa Bella) in the role of Caterina’s nervous mother, Agata. I once heard director Sydney Pollack say that the hardest role for an actor is playing someone not as smart as they are, and this is what Buy does convincingly in the role.
She starred in Ferzan Ozpetek’s award winning Saturno Contro (Saturn in Opposition) and his award winning Le Fate Ignoranti (His Secret Life), and also in Giuseppe Tornatore’s award winning, La Sconosciuta. Do you see a pattern here? Margherita Buy has been the go-to actresses for award winning directors for the last 25 years and it’s time for US movie lovers to get to know her.
In 2011 we’ll see her in (award winning) Nanni Moretti’s (La Stanza Del Figlio) new movie Habemus Papam, a story centered on the relationship between the newly elected Pope and his therapist.