A tall, dark-haired Sicilian beauty, Maria Grazia Cucinotta achieved international attention with her co-starring role as the sexy barmaid who catches the attention of the late Massimo Troisi in "The Postman (Il Postino)" (1994).
As a teenager, the voluptuous Cucinotta began a modeling career in Milan, working during summer holidays. When she finished her education, she decided to abandon posing for the more rigorous demands of acting. She landed her first job in the Italian TV program "Indietro tutta" and continued to hone her craft in a number of small screen productions. The actress segued to the big screen in "Commandos" and had roles in a handful of other motion pictures and commercials before the success of "The Postman (Il Postino)". Although her role in that film mostly required her to look alluring and project sensuality, she succeeded admirably. She went on to appear in larger roles in films released internationally, including Alex de la Iglesia's comedy, "The Day of the Beast/El Dia de la bestia" (1995), about the coming of the Antichrist. She fared less well in some of her next ventures: delivering a too-studied performance as the lead in the amiable but lackluster comedy "The Graduates/I Laureati" (1996) and as pregnant women in both "Italiani/Italians" (also 1996) and "The Mayor/Il Sindaco" (1997). In "Bedrooms" (also 1997), Cucinotta was more relaxed as the nurse girlfriend of a night watchman in a role that allowed her to display not just her physical attributes but an unforced comic presence. Attempting to break into American films, she co-starred opposite Vincent Spano in "A Brooklyn State of Mind" as an Italian journalist who has come to America to find her father's murderer. Critics found her charming, but hampered somewhat by the English dialogue.