Hi I am Isabella Rossellini. You might recognize me from the film Blue Velvet, or I modeled for many years for the Lancome ads. I'm also actress Ingrid Bergman's daughter and film director Roberto Rossellini was my father. I stayed in the family business, but more and more evolved it into an interest in biology. I'm back in school getting my Master's degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation.

As part of this, I made some short comical films called Green Porno about animals and now I developed it into an hour and fifteen minute monologue, and I am touring around the world presenting it. Our next shows are going to be in New York at BAM from January 16-25th. http://www.bam.org/theater/2014/green-porno

Ask me anything!

verification: https://twitter.com/IDTweeps/status/421732260325240832

I broke a finger three weeks ago, I have to go to my physical therapist. It still doesn't move. Thank you for sharing an hour with me. Happy New Year!

Comments: 180 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

joec_95123101 karma

Do you ever regret bumping Ross Geller from your list of 5 goofy coffeehouse guys?

Isabella_Rossellini114 karma

Yes. I would like to have made love to Ross Geller. It's one of my biggest regrets in life :)

wellvis52 karma

No question, really, just thanks for the wonderful entertainment you've provided over the years.

Isabella_Rossellini41 karma

That's so kind. Thank you.

Maybe_Wil_Wheaton33 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! I loved you in Death Becomes Her - here are a few questions:

  • How much fun was that film to make?
  • Do you still have the necklace from the movie pictured here ?

Thanks so much!

Isabella_Rossellini52 karma

I don't have the necklace, but I kept the vial where I think there was shampoo inside but it was supposed to be the potion to keep you young. It was lots of fun to make and work with big stars like Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis and Goldie Hawn, who made me laugh the most. She was the funnest.

FacePeppler30 karma

One of your very first film roles was in Blue Velvet. Was it odd/uncomfortable playing such an intense role when you hadn't had much film experience?

Isabella_Rossellini56 karma

The set of Blue Velvet was magical. And we created incredible bonds with David Lynch, Laura Dern, Kyle McLachlan who are still among my best friends. Because of the friendship, I felt very protected by them, although the role was very daring. When I did a scene walking naked in the streets, it was difficult because the entire village came out to watch a film being made, not expecting that it was going to be a naked actress walking in their main street. In spite of the fact that we warned the spectators it was going to be a very harsh scene, they remained! So that part was tough.

KustyTheKlown27 karma

tell me everything about working with and knowing david lynch, please

Isabella_Rossellini44 karma

So David Lynch is a very kind man. Mel Brooks, who produced one of David's films, The Elephant Man, nicknamed him the Jimmy Stewart from Mars, and it is very fitting. He is a mixture of kindness, and weirdness. He is now very much into meditating, I wish he could work more and we could see more films of his. I have several of his collages and photographs at home, he is a wonderful painter and artist. But still I would like him to make more films.

OtisTheZombie27 karma

Is the 30 Rock set as fun as I think it is?

Isabella_Rossellini61 karma

Definitely. And I have the greatest admiration for Tina Fey, who was at the same time acting, writing for the next episode, breastfeeding her baby, and being very gracious with guest stars who came to the set. I've never seen anything like it, still today I can't believe how she can multitask and have such a big brain to do so many things at once!

EightAsterisk23 karma

Hello and thank you for doing this AMA. First, I want to let you know that my husband and I named our border collie Ingrid, after your mother! We're great admirers of her body of work and our last name is also Bergman, so we couldn't resist! (I'll admit it's good for a chuckle when we get a note from her vet telling us 'Ingrid Bergman is due for her rabies shot.') Here's our pup's picture: http://i.imgur.com/AMribkB.jpg

Now onto the actual our actual question: We just adore your 'Green Pornos' and highly recommend that everyone see them. Which was your favorite animal to dress up as and discuss their mating habits?

Isabella_Rossellini36 karma

First of all, I would say that your dog is beautiful and my mom loved dogs, so she would be honored that you called her after her.

I conceive all the costumes, so I try to like them and do the best with all. I can tell you though that the earthworm costume was the hardest one to wear.

moocowfuckmilk17 karma

Good afternoon Isabella! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Can you share with us a memory of working with Dennis Hopper on Blue Velvet?

Isabella_Rossellini46 karma

When Dennis Hopper came to the set, he had just come out after three years in rehab. We were all a little bit worried. David Lynch said it was like sitting next to a ticking bomb. But actually Dennis acquired a lot of wisdom in his rehab, and in his struggle to overcome addiction, and I only knew that aspect personally of this incredible, wise, compassionate, available man. If you had any problem, you called Dennis and he would never be scandalized or shocked by what you had to say, it was very open and warm.

arunv16 karma

Hi Isabella. I just wanted to ask what it was like growing up in such a high profile family?

Also, which of the directors you've dated make the best films, in your opinion?

Isabella_Rossellini34 karma

When you're a little girl, you don't realize your family is high profile. So I understood about it as I grew up. I think that one day when my daughter asked me about her grandmother Ingrid Bergman, I turned on the television and said I'm sure we can find her. And then I was struck by this and in that moment I realized my mom was very famous, not too many people can turn on the tv and look for Grandma.

I only dated David Lynch and was married to Martin Scorsese, and both are extraordinary artists.

Frajer16 karma

How did you wind up on 30 Rock? Do you really love a Big Beef and Cheddar from Arby's?

Isabella_Rossellini29 karma

Tina Fey contacted me. It was the first season, so they were not famous yet, but I knew Tina from Saturday Night Live, and she wrote the text for me to like a Big Beef and Cheddar from Arbys. And of course being European I did not know exactly what it is and I never had one in my life. And she knew that that was comical, because it was absurd.

rTuoANDM15 karma

Hello, how are you? I’m a big fan from Uruguay. You already performed Green Porno in many cities in Europe and the States in different languages. How challenging was it? Were the audiences any different? Did they respond the same way? (For example in one city or country they laugh in some part of the show whereas in others they don’t get the humor).

Isabella_Rossellini21 karma

I perform my monologue in 3 languages, french, italian and english. And it was a challenge to keep the 3 languages separate. Because I tend to mingle them. But more or less the audiences react the same, but some jokes work better in, the term works better or the choice of a word works perfectly in a language and less well in another language. But generally the overall reaction is the same, which is laughter and a kind of Oh I did not know that about animals and biology.

FacePeppler14 karma

Did you ever watch your father's films while you were young? I ask because, for the most part, they can be very depressing (but still great).

Isabella_Rossellini18 karma

Yes, I watched all my dad's films and I was even on the set. I think it's different when you see the film being made. Even if it's a dramatic film, the sets are always fun places. Because the crew becomes quite like friends in a summer camp, so it feels very playful and friendly.

domesticatedbeetroot13 karma

I want to say I am a big fan of a lot of your work in film, and I love your more personal work on 'Green Porno' and 'Seduce Me'. With that a few questions:

What got you into nature documentaries? What is you favorite animal?


You've worked with a lot of auteurs over the years, what draws you to such unique narratives?

Isabella_Rossellini29 karma

I've always been interested in animals, and that's why I went back to University to study animal behavior and conservation. My study led me to write films about what I learn. But what I learn often is very serious, in science is very serious, but I see myself as an entertainer, so I turn science into something funny. And that's how I make my films.

I don't have a favorite animal, but I do love what is called the biodiversity, the many ways that animals solve for example the problem of how to have babies. There are a million ways to have sex.

My father was an auteur and a very original filmmaker, so I feel comfortable when I work with filmmakers such as David Lynch or Canadian director Guy Madden. The avant garde makes me feel like I'm with my dad.

likwitsnake12 karma

Have you seen Roger Ebert's original review of Blue Velvet on his show with Siskel? A big part of his gripe with the movie had to deal with your role. How do you feel about what he said?

Isabella_Rossellini26 karma

I vaguely remember what he said, I think it had to do with the fear that David Lynch manipulated me into the role. And on one hand I felt grateful that Roger Ebert was protective of me and actresses in general, and on the other hand I felt like saying I'm not a kid, I know what I'm doing.

inkabinka2312 karma

Hello I love your work. What is your favorite bug? And why?

Isabella_Rossellini26 karma

Again I don't have a favorite bug. I like bugs because they are far from us. Mammals are closer to us. And somewhat their life might resemble ours. But bugs are like aliens. They are like from outer space.

operation_hennessey10 karma

What is the strangest encounter you've had with a fan?

Isabella_Rossellini28 karma

Somebody thought I looked exactly like my mother, but he got the wrong actress, Sophia Loren instead of Ingrid Bergman.

red_sundress9 karma

Who would be on your celebrity freebie list?

Isabella_Rossellini27 karma

Again, Ross, Charles Darwin, Barack Obama, Nikola Tesla, Sir David Attenborough.

Fistandantalus9 karma

Hi Isabella,

One of my favourite movies was Immortal Beloved. What was it like working with Gary Oldman?

Also, I loved your work in Blue Velvet, and thought your cameo in Friends was awesome.

Do you prefer working in comedies to dramas? Historicals or contemporary?

Isabella_Rossellini14 karma

Gary is a fantastic actor and we shot the film in Prague, at one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I also worked for the fifth time with one of my favorite actors, Jarun Krabbe, the Dutch superstar. I loved the director visualized the music of Beethoven as if it was a videoclip. I thought that was very daring. And in a beautiful way, to bring old music to a new generation.

I prefer nowadays comedies, because as you get older, one becomes lighter. Contemporary, so I don't have to wear a corset.

19bokami788 karma

Loved you in Wyatt Earp, especially the "skinny heap of puss" line. What was it like to work with Dennis Quaid on that film? Was he grumpy from starving (presumably)?

Isabella_Rossellini9 karma

I couldn't believe that Dennis had stopped eating to lose weight although at the time I had just separated from Martin Scorsese and De Niro had gained weight to play Raging Bull. I admire it but I would be too scared for my health. I would do it with makeup. I am a coward.

ScorseseGirl8 karma


Isabella_Rossellini15 karma

I'm not the only one who is an adult. Sometimes there are a couple of other students my age, mostly women who have retired and go back to school to engage their brain. Most young people don't know who I am. And nobody bothers me. In all these years because I am at school (because I take one course per semester) only once a young student was aggressive towards me, everybody else is extremely kind and welcoming.

RepliesTruthfully8 karma

Did you ever feel any pressure from your family (or family friends) to get into the film industry?

Isabella_Rossellini12 karma

Yes I did, and that is why I only started to act when I was 30. Being a successful model gave me the confidence to try acting. And I think I was wise to wait because if I hadn't worked and failed when I was young, I would have thought that I would have failed as a person. Instead by having that modeling success, that gave me the confidence to try something, and if it didn't work, to try something else.

likwitsnake7 karma

What was your dad like growing up? Rome, Open City is still one of the most powerful films I've ever seen.

Isabella_Rossellini19 karma

I was born in 1952, so a few years after the war, and already six years after the war, the country had been cleaned up (some) and it was really called a boom. It was projected into this completely positive trajectory: peace, money, democracy, freedom. The 50s were among the most positive years in Italy, although yes, it was a poor country, and poverty was around me, but it was getting better. My father's most famous films were the ones about the despair of the war. I found the films that he did with my mother (Trip to Italy, Stromboli, and Europe 51) to underline an existential uneasiness that in spite of the trajectory of happiness, lingered in the country. A sense of malaise that was completely expressed, for example, in Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialistic movement where there is sort of a cosmic melancholia that lives with humans whether they are rich or poor, war or peace.

mostlikelynope7 karma

Hello Isabella,

It's without a doubt a pleasure to ask you a question so thanks for doing this. As an actress with a varied career who I imagine has see the good/bad side of industry, why are so many American movies lacking emotional depth?

Isabella_Rossellini15 karma

I think that in effect, Hollywood films are based in their tradition on being spectacular. To make us wonder and dream, to go less in depth, though this exists too, but you can find it more in independent film. And the two have to co-exist, because people are both deep but we also like to dream and be astounded. So Gravity is a good example that combines both depth, spectacular view and also, if you've seen it in 3D and Imax, you feel you are in space with them.

saloabad7 karma

Hello, Thanks for this AMA. I really love the way you act and the work you do, and I love the fact that you resemble your beautiful mother so much. I love her so very much, she is one of the most influential people in my life

What was it like having Ingrid Bergman as a mom, how much did help/hurt your career?

PS: I love "Green Porno"

Isabella_Rossellini11 karma

I love my mom too. It helped having her as a mom, because she was such a wise person, and she taught me always to do what I loved, to follow my passion. My mother died before I became a successful model or a successful actress, so unfortunately she has seen very little of my career to be able to comment on it or be hands on and help me. But in terms of giving me specific advice for a role, unfortunately I couldn't do it.

sofiabonami4 karma

Hi Isabella, Thank you for doing this AMA! Can you tell us a little bit about your new film Enemy?

Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

I have a very small part in the film Enemy. But I love director Denis Villeneuve's film work, he is also one of the kindest persons I have ever met. The film is surreal and surreal is one of the art forms that most intrigues me. There's a haunting atmosphere and the most surprising ending that I won't tell. You will have to go see it.

crystallyn4 karma

You've long been one of my favorite actresses and it's fantastic to see you here (loved Big Night and Green Porno!). You began your career with Italian films but most of your work is in English. Would you consider doing work in Italian again?

Isabella_Rossellini8 karma

Of course! I would love to do work in italian. I do my monologue in italian. I did it in two festivals in Italy, and would love to be able to do it in a theatre or to do a tour in my country.

mercfoot4 karma

How much actual eating did you do on "Big Night"? Was the timpano a real dish that you got to try?

video of the timpano scene

Isabella_Rossellini11 karma

We did very little eating, because all the beautiful dinner was sprayed with plastic, because the scene of the dinner took about a week to shoot. Stanley Tucci gaving the Timpano at his private home, so I did eat the Timpano there, but not on the set. It was delicious.

jazzicaruby4 karma

I am a huge Blue Velvet fan!!! Awesome job!! My question is, did you ever hear David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan discuss Twin Peaks, or ideas that would become a part of the show?

Isabella_Rossellini11 karma

David wrote the script while he was writing it, he would talk to me about it. But I lived in New York and David and Kyle lived in Los Angeles, so I did not know about their private conversation. But they certainly worked very closely on the set, although actors have little input in the script, it is mostly writer, director and producer who form a script. And we actors interpret it or act it out, give it physical shape.

curtis1194 karma

Isabella, you do your show in English, French and Italian but Italian is your native language. Are you able to think in English and French or do you have to translate in your head from Italian? Did you write the show in Italian and then translate to the other languages? Which of the three is your favorite language? Do you speak any others?

Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

I speak fluent english, french and italian, which means I don't have to translate it, the language in my head. I mostly write in english, but the Green porno monologue was written with Jean-Claude Carriere, and he writes in French, so the basis of my monologue was in French. It was hard for me to write in French. I speak bad Spanish, and that one I need to translate in my language.

TLeezy134 karma

Hello, Big Fan. If the family business was not making movies do you believe that is something you would have pursued anyway?

Isabella_Rossellini9 karma

Probably. But I also might have worked with animals doing research. I also ran a little organic farm which I love and could have blown into a full time career for me. But for the moment it just remains in the realm of something small and manageable.

operation_hennessey4 karma

You are incredibly talented. I was just curious what your favourite movies are?

Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

Chaplin films, especially The Circus. George Melies' early films. Some Like It Hot. Sunset Boulevard. And then I have to say my parents' films, Notorious and Paisan and Stromboli.

ToniJabroni3 karma

What type of skin care do you use- you look marvelous!

Isabella_Rossellini6 karma

Lancome, out of faithfulness to my brand. And they do have good product. Occasionally I will use other creams. But the amount of Lancome cream I have used on my skin will beat any other brand.

rTuoANDM3 karma

will you continue making green porno short films? I love them!!!

Isabella_Rossellini5 karma

I would like to continue making films on the subject of animals, I don't know if the format will be a series of two minute films, but definitely the wheels in my head are turning about what else to write about next. Maybe about animal minds, or do they have a mind.

TreephantBOA3 karma

You were in one of my favorite movies, Fearless. Nothing short of amazing. But I'll always have a crush on you for your role in Cousins. You seemed so natural in it. Was that a bit of the real "you" coming through or was it the director's gifts?

Isabella_Rossellini4 karma

I don't know how to talk about myself as if I am a third person. The character in Cousins was lovely. I wish I was as lovely as Mary, I think it was her name. And Joel Schumacher he is one of the funniest men on earth. And he had worked a lot in fashion, so we had a lot to talk about. We had a similar background.

rTuoANDM3 karma

Which director would you like to work with?

Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

There are many many fantastic directors that I would like to work with. But right now I would like to become a director myself! And I am trying to concentrate more my career into this next step, of making films about animals and I would write and direct those films.

Alphonso_Mango3 karma


Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

I never see reality TV so I can't comment on it. The obsession about celebrity always existed. And my mom was a victim of it, she could hardly go out in the streets or take a bus or go to a restaurant, and I always felt very protective of her. She always wished to have the freedom, but if you have huge success you give up some of your freedom.

ChuckEye3 karma

The team that did Big Night and The Imposters was brilliant. Do you keep up with Campbell Scott or Stanley Tucci at all? It would be amazing to see another film with that combination of talent, yourself included.

Isabella_Rossellini3 karma

Yes, I am good friends with Stanley and Campbell. They are both very successful actors, and directing takes so long, that I think they favored acting especially now that they both have many small children to raise and school and financial demands are probably high on them. But they are beautiful writers and directors too. I wish they would do more.

jimlii3 karma

Do you miss White Oak? Have you heard the new owner's plans for it? I hear he's bringing down a tyrannosaurus skeleton!

Isabella_Rossellini5 karma

For the others, White Oak plantation was a private zoo that concentrated on endangered species and finding medical or reproductive ways to try to continue the species. It was owned by a friend of mine who died ten years ago, and recently sold. I hear the mission has not changed so the animals are safe.

rusty__shakleford3 karma


Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

Working with Peter Weir on the Amish film Witness. I couldn't take the part because of scheduling conflict, but I loved the film and eventually I was able to work with Peter years later in Fearless. So that took a little bit of the edge away.

NotMyTwitter3 karma

Who do you think is the next Isabella Rossellini ?

Isabella_Rossellini10 karma

I'll give you a scientific answer: each person is unique. And uniqueness is essential because it's what evolution picks up to adapt us to the changing world. So uniqueness is more important than being the same.

Conspirologist3 karma

Ciao! I really enjoyed some movies with you, why exactly did you choose Blue Velvet to represent you, is it your favourite work?

It is interesting that you are studying again, and that it is something different from moviemaking. Were you passionate about what you are studying from the start, or it is just happened now?

What do you think in general about modern moviemaking, do you think it was more prolific until 2000, or there are still enough brilliant moviemakers in the 21 century that you are aware of?

Isabella_Rossellini5 karma

I was always interested in animals, and now that I am older and work less as a model and an actress, I had time to go back to university. I think that there are always artists, but when we look back, it looks better because we filtered out what was bad. People have always made bad art and bad movies, but they did not last in time, so the only things that survived were the films that were good. You are left with the impression that the past was better but it was exactly like today.

gogojack3 karma

Hello there! You were in one of my all time favorite movies, Fearless, and I admit to being a bit at a loss for a decent question.

Yet at the intersection of biology and movies, there are documentaries. Who is your favorite nature documentary narrator (if you have one)? Attenborough seems an obvious choice, but Morgan Freeman and F. Murray Abraham come to mind.

Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA. You are wonderful!

Isabella_Rossellini10 karma

David Attenborough writes and puts together his documentaries, and Morgan and F. Murray just read the script, so it is two different jobs. Attenborough is one of the people who I most admire, and he is on my cheat list!

BoogerMcFee3 karma

You played Athena in the Odyssey. What is it that makes Athena so sexy?

Isabella_Rossellini9 karma

Athena was the goddess of wisdom, not of sex. Aphrodite was the one about sex. But probably on TV miniseries, they make everybody sexy - gods, goddesses, humans!

InAHH3 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! I am a huge fan of your work. I was just wondering what is perhaps your proudest artistic moment?

Isabella_Rossellini7 karma

Evolving from one career to the other. Being able to go from modeling to acting, and from acting to writing and directing. I find it very sad that some of my friends, models or actresses, they don't work because of age constraints. They feel abandoned by the business, nostalgic about the business. You can stay in the business, but you have to evolve.

Dan_Torrance1 karma

Have you ever gone cheese shopping in Paris with Dennis Quaid?

Isabella_Rossellini5 karma

No. I met Dennis Quaid in the film Wyatt Earp, and we shot it in Santa Fe.

1406dude-5 karma

Ms. Rosellini, from the first time I saw you on a movie “Death Becomes Her” I’ve always considered you one of the most beautiful, sophisticated, and elegant actresses in the world. However, I have to ask you: what’s the context for this picture?

Isabella_Rossellini8 karma

That is not a picture of me. I assume it's somebody who has on their face a lot of wind? But it is not me.

crystallyn3 karma

Isabella_Rossellini10 karma

It's fantastic! I wish he did my face.