Greta Bellamacina

Greta Bellamacina on being a ‘quiet rebel’, her next film and why Camden will always be home

01 Jul 2024 | Updated on: 02 Jul 2024 |By Annie Lewis

The actress and filmmaker is one of the most exciting, and largely undiscovered, creative voices of our generation. As her latest film lands on screens this month, we sit down to discuss life behind the lens

Greta Bellamacina likes being busy. As a true multi-hyphenate – poet, actress, model, filmmaker, mother – life keeps her on her toes, and makes for some brilliant stories. Which is good, because storytelling is her biggest passion. Born in Hampstead and raised in Camden, Bellamacina is a north London girl through and through. Ask her to list her favourite spots there and she reels off names of pubs where she spent her youth getting lost in music. Home, meanwhile, was adjacent to a church, where she would spend hours listening to the tinkle of bells and hymns radiating through her bedroom walls. Her childhood, which she lovingly shared with four siblings, sparked something of a creative in her – one that, reflecting on her CV today, seems to know no bounds. 

While the modelling came as a surprise – Bellamacina was scouted at 14 and has since worked with Prada, Chanel, Miu Miu and Burberry, as well as walking for Dolce & Gabbana – acting didn’t. She secured a sought-after spot at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) youth group at 16, and it was here that her visceral passion for storytelling, poetry and words came to life, as she spent her days reliving the scripts of Shakespeare and Federico García Lorca. 

Bellamacina met her now-husband, Robert Montgomery, a Scottish conceptual artist, when she was 22, and the couple now share two sons, a leafy home in Kent, and a publishing house: New River Press. Founded in 2016, it was born out of their mutual love for poetry – another almighty string to Bellamacina’s bow – and published the couple’s collaborative collection of psychogeographical poetry, Points for Time in the Sky, and, more recently, her latest anthology Who Will Make The Fire in June 2024. 

Having spent years in front of the camera and in her writing room, Bellamacina, now 33, eventually decided to step behind the lens. Her breakout performance and directorial debut in the 2019 film Hurt by Paradise saw her nominated for several international awards, while recent appearances in Michael Winterbottom’s 2022 political TV drama This England and lead roles in avant-garde Italian film director Riccardo Vannuccini’s films Commedia (2023) and Things And Other Things (2024) cemented her position as a serious actress. Then, after five years of acting, it was time to return to the director’s seat. 

Landing on Apple TV on 1 July 2024, Tell That To The Winter Sea is Bellamacina’s second feature film as both a director and actor. The coming-of-age romance drama, co-written by Emmy-winning director Jaclyn Bethany, tells the story of a bride-to-be who is reunited with an old flame a week before her wedding. The inspiration? Friendship, love, and, in Bellamacina’s own words, “ghosts and fantasies of the past inside of us”. We sat down with the creative powerhouse to hear more about the project, touching on her style icons, love for collaborating, and why London will always be home. 

Tell me about your childhood. Were you always creative?

I was quite a shy child but always loved performing. Most evenings were taken up with some kind of dance class, ballet or tap. I think as a child you come to these art forms in their purest forms. There is a willingness to surrender yourself to their mystery and transformative powers. I think I knew from a young age that there was something profound happening in these quiet evening classrooms after school. For the first time I was able to translate a feeling into my body. I found deep comfort in that.

I read you were scouted by a modelling agency at just 14?

I was, but I didn’t actually begin modelling until I finished school. It wasn’t something I ever decided to do, it was more of an opportunity that came to me and I happened to enjoy it and make some money to get through university. Looking back, it was a good way to experiment and to understand the dynamics between the camera and self. I was a bit of a quiet rebel growing up. So I think it was a nice way to push these sides out of myself. I liked the danger aspect of opening a new door inside me and revealing it to the world through the glass in the lens.

How did you get into acting and performing?

I was already studying acting and working as an actor before I worked as a model. When I was 16, I auditioned for the RADA Youth Group. I remember it was a bit of a long shot as they only took 20 people from the whole country. It was an incentive to give a year of free education to the chosen few hopeful young actors. I somehow got in and this was the moment that really changed everything. I was suddenly in a room where the mantra was the lost words of Shakespeare and the plays of Lorca. That year changed my life and I will always be grateful for that. It gave me the physical space to live in the lives of these lost worlds.

Are there any specific roles that you credit as turning points in your career?

I am profoundly grateful for every role as I have learnt so much for them all. I think for me it’s when it feels like a 360-degree collaboration. The two films I made with the great Italian director Riccardo Vannuccini have been some of my most rewarding experiences. Our first film, Commedia, was shot in Rome and I play a mental patient – we worked with words, but also a lot with movement. The second film, Things and Other Things, we wrapped in December last year and shot it in Tuscany in the countryside. The film is dedicated to imagination. We filmed it entirely in abandoned buildings – a theme park, schools, hospitals – it’s about when everything is gone and we are forced to imagine. I loved working with an entirely Italian crew also, there is a real joy to the way things get done.

Are there any personal style rules you live by?

I think it’s important to have fun with it all. I like there to be a twist. Something imperfect and unexpected. Maybe it’s a flower you’ve picked up from the ground on the walk home that you put in your hair…

Who do you consider your style icons?

Helena Bonham Carter, Susie Cave, Gena Rowlands and Pattie Boyd – they all wear their worlds. 

As a born-and-bred Londoner, how would you spend an ideal day in the capital?

It changes a lot, but for music Camden will always have a special place in my heart. I spent a lot of my teens in the bars and clubs of Camden getting lost in music. I think there is still some ‘magic in the air’ to the place. There is something evolving in those dark rooms above the pubs still today. Music is actually being played and made.

Do you prefer directing or acting?

As an actor, it’s important to me to understand both sides of the camera. I often see the process as a continuation rather than two completely different things. The objective is the same: to translate truth, to make the intention live visually.

Greta Bellamacina
Greta Bellamacina in Tell That To The Winter Sea (2024)
Tell me about the inspiration for 'Tell That To The Winter Sea'. What was the writing process like alongside Jaclyn Bethany?

I have been lucky enough to know Jaclyn for more than a decade. I was in some of her early movies that she made while she was living in LA and had just graduated from AFI. Since then we have become friends and seen each other evolve and grow. Life has happened to us both. I think we were inspired by our story of friendship. We often watch films that are about much older people looking back – we wanted to write a kind of double coming of age movie about the journey between the teenage self and adults in their 30s. This natural transportation we all go through, but through which we still hold the ghost and fantasies of the past inside of us.

What other projects are you working on in 2024?

I am currently preparing for Jaclyn and I’s next film. This script is a deeply personal story. It’s called All Five Eyes and it’s a portrait of the role of the carer through the eyes of three sisters. I play the older sister, Cecily, who shows her version of love through her strict routine caring for their autistic sister, Willa. And my new poetry book, Who Will Make The Fire, comes out on 20 June.

How do you like to spend your time away from work?

In the garden or maybe on a train somewhere looking out the window. 

Tell That To The Winter Sea was released on Apple TV on 1 July 2024. Visit

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