If you haven’t heard of Maria Papathanasiou just yet, keep your ears (and eyes) open for the stunning Greek-American model/actress from Brooklyn, NY. After garnering media attention from a snapshot of her chatting with Megan Fox on-set of the upcoming film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the 24-year-old beauty is well on her way to becoming a household name.
A second generation Greek-American, Papathanasiou’s father, from Athens, and mother, from the small village of Diplatanos, came to America with a dream for their family. They settled in Brooklyn, NY, where Papathanasiou and her three sisters attended Sunday school, Greek school, and Greek dancing classes as kids. Describing her siblings as “all very different,” the model and actress says she’s “basically the only artsy one that got out of the element of not being a doctor or a teacher.”
When she was in middle school, Papathanasiou auditioned for a YMCA community theater production of “Peter Pan.” She scored the lead role, and got bitten by the acting bug right away. Soon after, while attending high school, she began taking classes at John Robert Powers studio, which her parents were skeptical of only because it meant leaving the borough of Brooklyn to commute to Manhattan when she was 16-years-old.
“I was the one that initiated that I wanted to take acting classes and my parents were like, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?,'” Papathanasiou says. “I had to get on the train on my own, there were late hours, but that’s what I wanted to do.”
She continued taking classes for about a year and then dabbled in modeling during college, posing for friends’ projects and also signing with a professional agency. But acting is her real passion, she admits. Luckily, her parents have been very supportive, and so far, so good.
“We’re very Greek, but I am American. I’m different and weird but they love it, especially with this thing where I worked with Megan Fox,” she says. “My parents thought it was exciting.”
That “thing” she’s referring to is the Paramount Pictures reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg. Papathanasiou was hired to play Fox’s body double for the film, which hits theaters next summer.
“They needed somebody athletic that could ride a bike,” she states. “It was a cool experience.”
With all good things to say about one of Hollywood’s sexiest women – calling Fox a “sweetheart” and “stunning” – Papathanasiou’s parents weren’t the only ones excited about her big-screen role. Some of her male friends were eager to visit the set, texting Papathanasiou to ask where she and Mrs. Fox were shooting for the day.
“They were all drooling over about it. It’s boys,” she says with a laugh.
And what about the girls?
“My female friends were actually more excited than my guy friends,” suggesting she invite Fox to hangout or join them for dinner. “I’m like, ‘She has a kid, she has a husband, she’s not gonna come out to a club with us!'”
Papathanasiou landed in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” after the same casting agents booked her in “Noah,” a fantasy drama from Academy Award nominee Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”). Also scheduled for a 2014 release, Papathanasiou plays a young Jennifer Connelly in flashbacks.
“That was a really great experience because I admire Darren Aronofsky…he’s just the top of the top, and he’s also from Brooklyn,” she says.
The audition took place in Long Island, NY. She didn’t know what to expect, and didn’t know she would actually be meeting with the director himself.
“[Darren] came up to me and shook my hand; no one told him [what I was there for], and he was just like, ‘Wow, you really do look like Jennifer Connelly.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you so much.’ And my reply was, ‘Not a day goes by that nobody tells me I look like Penelope Cruz,'” she says. “You would think, ‘What an idiot to say that when you’re up for a Jennifer Connelly role.'” Not the case in the least. Aronofsky was so impressed with the young Greek-American that he gave her the part.
Pleased with the experience and vibe on the set of “Noah,” Papathanasiou is hoping to team up with the director once again in the near future.
“My biggest dream is to be his lead actress; that’s what I want to do next,” she admits.
Also next for the young talent? Auditions, modeling, fashion styling, traveling…to name a few. After just returning from her first trip to Asia where she worked on a music-related project in Korea, Papathanasiou is expanding her creative talent in the entertainment business.
“I love music. I mean, music comes after movies but growing up, I was always listening to music. I go to concerts. Even to this day, ever since I was 13, I would always go to concerts. I tried to go at least once a week. So when I’m not busy, I help my friend who’s a successful artist – he’s Grammy nominated – his name is Ryan Leslie. I help him with his whole creative side.”
And fellas, Papathanasiou happens to be single at the moment. With such a hectic schedule, she says time…and meeting the right person…aren’t easy to come by in regards to a relationship.
“It’s hard to find somebody – especially in New York – that’s really going to love you and be real and true. And, as well, I don’t have much time. I think it’s a time thing, more importantly,” she admits. “There’s nobody that I’m interested in either right now, so if there’s anyone single, they can hit me up,” she says with a laugh.
Perhaps, in her travels, the best way to meet someone is to head back to the motherland. Having spent summers in Greece, she affectionately describes her mother’s village as the place to be.
“Roughly, there’s about 200 people in [my mom’s village], and everyone there knows each other. I think I relate more to the village than I do to the city because I just like the whole small community…there’s goats, and there’s farms, and there’s church,” she says. “I like growing things, I like eating fresh food, and that’s what Diplatanos has to offer; it’s more homey.”
For more on Maria Papathanasiou, visit her:
On Twitter: MariaFavelaChic
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