Bellucci’s beauty stops the presses

Actress to attend opening, closing, Matrix screening

Hard-nosed hacks lost their powers of reasoning Tuesday in a pre-fest breakfast-time encounter with Monica Bellucci, the Cannes Film Festival’s mistress of ceremonies this year. Dazed by the Italian actress’s charms, the mostly male press pack gathered at Canal Plus’ Patio Cannes HQ was reduced to asking such probing questions as “What’s it like being so beautiful?”

“The important thing is not being beautiful, but feeling beautiful,” Bellucci retorted breathily, without missing a beat.

The actress is taking time out of shooting Frederic Schoendoerffer’s “Spy Bound,” also starring her husband Vincent Cassel, to put in three appearances at Cannes: for opening and closing night, and for Thursday night’s screening of “Matrix Reloaded,” in which she has a supporting role.

“When I am on set it is relaxing, the biggest problems in the world disappear. The real work’s travelling — and giving interviews to journalists,” Bellucci said.

The actress will be seen in Mel Gibson’s Latin- and Aramaic-lingo “The Passion,” in which she plays Mary Magdalene.

Tonight’s opening-night ceremony will be shown live on French television, exclusively on Canal Plus from 7:30.p.m.