Rome, 18 June 1952; daughter of the director Roberto Rossellini and the
actress Ingrid Bergman.
Married 1) the director Martin Scorsese, 1979 (divorced 1983); 2)
Jonathan Wiedemann (divorced), daughter: Elettra Ingrid; also has adopted
son: Roberto; 3) the actor Gary Oldman, 1994; had long-term relationship
with the director David Lynch.
Was graduated from Rome's Academy of Fashion and Costume; attended
Finch College and The New School for Social Research.
1972—moved to New York at age 19; 1970s—worked as a
translator for the Italian News Bureau and as a New York correspondent for
Italian TV; 1976—made her screen debut opposite her mother, Ingrid
A Matter of Time
; 1979—returned to Italy to play first leading movie role, in
; 1980—began modeling career; 1982—enrolled in acting
classes; 1993—in "The Frightening Frammis" episode of
the TV series
Click Model Management, Inc., 881 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10019,
Films as Actress:
A Matter of Time (Minnelli) (as Sister Pia)
Il Prato ( The Meadow ) (Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani) (as Eugenia)
Il Pap'occhio ( In the Pope's Eye ) (Arbore) (as Isabella)
White Nights (Hackford) (as Darya Greenwood)
Blue Velvet (David Lynch) (as Dorothy Vallens)
Tough Guys Don't Dance (Mailer) (as Madeline); Siesta (Lambert) (as Marie); Red Riding Hood (Adam Brooks)
Zelly and Me (Rathborne) (as Joan, "Zelly")
Cousins (Schumacher) (as Maria Hardy)
Wild at Heart (David Lynch) (as Perdita Durango); Ivory Hunters ( The Lost Elephant ) (Sargent—for TV) (as Maria Di Conti)
Dames Galantes ( Gallant Ladies ) (Tacchella) (as Victoire); Lies of the Twins (Hunter—for TV) (as Rachel Marks)
Death Becomes Her (Zemeckis) (as Lisle Von Rhoman)
Fearless (Weir) (as Laura Klein); The Pickle (Mazursky) (as Planet Cleveland Woman); . . . und der Himmel steht still ( The Innocent ) (Schlesinger) (as Maria)
Wyatt Earp (Kasdan) (as Big Nosed Kate); Immortal Beloved (Rose) (as Anna Marie Erdody)
The Funeral (Ferrara) (as Clara); Big Night (Scott and Tucci); Crime of the Century (Rydell—for TV) (as Anna Hauptmann)
The Odyssey (Konchalovsky—series for TV) (as Athene)
Left Luggage (Krabbé) (as Mrs. Kalman); Merlin (Barron) (as Nimue); The Impostors (Tucci) (as Queen)
Don Quixote (Yates—for TV) (as The Duchess)
By ROSSELLINI: book—
Some of Me , New York, 1997, 1999.
By ROSSELLINI: articles—
Interview with Joseph Gelmis, in Newsday (Melville, New York), 18 April 1982.
Interview with Elaine Dutka, in Time (New York), 2 May 1983.
"On Her Own," interview with Alice Steinback, in Saturday Review (New York), November/December 1985.
"Isabella Rossellini Accesses the Role that Haunted Her," interview with L. Winer, in New York Times , 23 November 1986.
"Isabella Interview," interview with P. Stone, in Interview (New York), April 1988.
"Bella, Bella Isabella," interview with C. McGuigan and others, in Newsweek (New York), 2 May 1988.
"Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini Starring in Cousins ," in American Premiere Magazine , vol. 9, no. 1, 1989.
"Silent Star," interview with Joan Juliet Buck, in Vogue , January 1993.
Interview with D. Furnish, in Interview , February 1996.
"The Beauty of Imperfection," in Vogue , June 1997.
On ROSSELLINI: book—
Young, Cathleen, Isabella Rossellini: Quiet Renegade , New York, 1989.
On ROSSELLINI: articles—
"The Women We Love," in Esquire (New York), June 1987.
Current Biography 1988 , New York, 1988.
Farrow, M., "Making Cousins : An Excursion into Relativity," in New York Times , vol. 138, section 2, 5 February 1989.
"The Talk of the Town: Mother and Daughter," in New Yorker , 23 October 1989.
Hample, H.S., "Filmographies," in Premiere (Boulder), vol. 7, October 1993.
Gorin, François, "L'actrice modèle: État second," in Télérama (Paris), no. 2310, 20 April 1994.
Theodoracopulos, Taki, "The Allure of Allure," in National Review , 12 August 1996.
Vanity Fair (New York), no. 442, June 1997.
Mead, R., "Face Time," in New York Magazine , vol. 30, 16 June 1997.
* * *
Isabella Rossellini was born into celluloid royalty; she is the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. Her fame rests mostly in her bloodline, her uncanny resemblance to her mother, and her extraordinary success as a model. Rossellini began the latter career at age 28, and soon became one of the world's highest-paid and most in-demand models. She has graced more than 500 magazine covers, and earned $2-million a year from a contract with Lancome, the French cosmetics company. In 1982, she appeared on the cover of the U.S. edition of Vogue , which became the magazine's biggest seller in over a decade.
White Nights , released in 1985 (in which her role is secondary to those of stars Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines), was trumpeted as Rossellini's movie debut. Her actual first screen appearance, however, came almost a decade earlier in A Matter of Time , which starred her mother. The role was a small one, as a nurse; it is of interest mostly for her character's name, Sister Pia—Rossellini's older half sister is, of course, Pia Lindstrom (by Bergman's first husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom). Also before White Nights , Rossellini had a key role in Il Prato , directed by Italy's Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, playing a young clerk in a small Tuscan village who becomes romantically involved with two men.
Rossellini's roles often have been secondary ones. A prime example is Wyatt Earp , in which her character—Big Nosed Kate, sweetheart of Doc Holliday (Dennis Quaid)—seems to evaporate from sight soon after initially appearing on-screen. Even when she does well in a fully conceived role, she finds herself eclipsed by characters (and performers) who are far more charismatic. In Fearless , she is fine as the wife of a plane crash survivor (Jeff Bridges), but she ultimately is outflanked by Bridges and Rosie Pérez (playing another survivor). The latter two have the showcase roles, and give the showcase performances.
But Rossellini was charming and appealing in Cousins , an American remake of Cousin, Cousine , Jean-Charles Tachella's French-language romantic comedy. Her character is married to a womanizer, and has become accustomed to his infidelities. She finds herself attracted to her cousin-by-marriage (Ted Danson), and the two become romantically involved. Had Rossellini been cast in more roles like this, she might have developed into a widely popular leading lady.
Easily Rossellini's best screen work to date may be found in Blue Velvet , directed by David Lynch, with whom she had a long-term relationship. Blue Velvet is a dark and unsettling thriller in which she plays a bored, deranged nightclub singer who is raped by a psychopath (Dennis Hopper). Her presence here was controversial in that she appeared frontally nude. Rossellini also had a role in Lynch's violent, erotic Wild at Heart , playing Perdita Durango, ex-girlfriend of macho but tenderhearted, on-the-lam Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage). But here, too, the foremost female roles are played by other actresses—Laura Dern and Diane Ladd.