Maria Bello Discusses "Flicka"

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The message Maria Bello wants audiences to take away from Flicka, the 2006 film adaptation of Mary O?Hara?s My Friend Flicka novel, is to just be true to yourself. ?It doesn?t matter what your parents think, what the world thinks, who you should be or what you should be. The only thing that matters is who you want to be and what your destiny is and what God wants you to be.?

The Appeal of Flicka: ?I?m always looking for something that?s a challenge, that I?m going to learn something.

I?ve always wanted to ride a horse. I?ve been on a few horses, but I got terrified as soon as I got on one. They said they?d send me to cowboy camp, they?d teach me how to ride this horse. I got to cowboy camp and the first three days, I had sores up and down my legs, all over my ass, because I couldn?t find my seat. I didn?t understand what it was, that fine balance that [her cowboy advisor] Monty explained to me between surrender and control. But I was holding on too tight like I was doing in real life I think, which is the sort of controlling thing. Instead, I had to surrender to the thrill of something. So from learning to ride my horse, I learned a lot about myself and about life and how to work my way through life, I guess.?

Bello admits that on the first day of cowboy camp she didn?t even know which side of the horse to get up on. ?That was the first step, to teach me how to actually get on the horse and how to navigate that,? explained Bello. ?And then Monty would just sort of walk me around the rink.

I had this beautiful painted mare, the one I rode in the movie, called Belle. She was just beautiful, a sweet, sweet horse. He just sort of walked me around and then had me walk around on my own and told me that my reigns were like a joystick. Wherever I pushed the joystick, my horse would go. So I was very robotic the first couple of days until I started to surrender.?

Real Life Horse Whisperers: Bello believes there was at least one on the set. ?I think my cowboy Monty was a horse whisperer. I?ve never seen someone who was so - he had such a chemistry with these horses. It?s unbelievable. He taught me how to ride because I had to go to cowboy camp, which was the reason I did the movie. A large part of the reason I did the movie was because I was never a ride. I always had this love-hate affair with horses. I wasn?t sure if I could trust them or not.?

Working with Tim McGraw: ?We had fun together. It was fun doing that dance scene. I never knew how to line dance and they brought in all these extras and they were line dancers. They taught me right there on the spot how to do that dance, so I spent half the day learning the dance. It was so much fun. I learned a lot of things on this movie.?

Maria Bello on Director Michael Mayer: ?Oh my god, I?ve never met a director with such a great sense of humor. He is so light and easy and made it really a joyful experience. He knew the story that he wanted to tell. He had a great vision for it and let us play within that. He always added a sense of fun. You?d often see him on his break riding a horse. He was fantastic.

Like doing the whole dance sequence, he just sort of let us go and let us dance and see what Tim did and see what I did, and then see when we were going to dance. We didn?t block it out so he said, ?You do this, and I?ll do this and that.? He just said, ?Listen to the music and enjoy each other and have fun.? He would leave it wide open for us to improv within that.?

Maria Bello?s Upcoming Projects: ?I?m currently doing Alan Ball?s new movie with Aaron Eckhart, which is so fun to work with Aaron again. And also I start The Jane Austen Book Club, my first romantic comedy [soon].?

Bello explained the Alan Ball film: ?The movie?s about this young girl, this 13-year-old girl, who?s half Lebanese and half American. I play her American mother who?s quite adolescent and immature and doesn?t really know how to be a parent - very different from the mom in Flicka. I?m in the process of doing it. We?re shooting it right now in LA.

Bello will also be shooting The Jane Austen Book Club in LA as well. ?It?s based on a book called The Jane Austen Book Club. It?s about these five women and a man that start a book club and it?s all Jane Austen, all the time. It?s how you see their lives going through [that]. Like the book at my house is Emma and my life starts to look like Emma?s life at the same time. I fall in love with this young guy. It?s pretty cool.?
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