Isabella Rossellini

Active - 1976 - 2021  |   Born - Jun 18, 1952 in Rome, Italy  |   Genres - Drama, Avant-garde / Experimental, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Isabella Rossellini was one of the twin daughters born to actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini in 1952. After growing up in Italy, she came to America when she was19 and studied at Finch College and the New School for Social Research. She then returned to Rome, where she worked as a translator and TV journalist (not unlike her New York-based half-sister Pia Lindström). Just for fun, Rossellini made her first movie appearance in 1976, playing a bit in her mother's film A Matter of Time. She found acting to her liking, appearing in several European TV dramas before her first big-screen starring role in 1979's The Meadow. In the early 1980s, Rossellini put her film activities on the back burner to concentrate on her modelling career on behalf of Lancome Cosmetics. After her first marriage (to Hollywood director Martin Scorsese) ended in 1983, she began a relationship with ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov, with whom she co-starred in White Nights (1985). She was later involved was filmmaker David Lynch, who cast her in her breakthrough role as a much-abused small-town nightclub singer in Blue Velvet (1986). (Her other romantic partners have included her second husband John Wiedeman -- the father of her daughter Elettra -- and actor Gary Oldman). Rossellini continued seeking out offbeat, challenging film roles into the '90s, including Anna Maria Ermody in the controversial Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved and no-nonsense frontierswoman Big Nose Kate in Wyatt Earp (both 1994). She also starred in Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci's delicious drama Big Night in 1996.

She was the matriarch of a gangster family in The Funeral, and reteamed with Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci for The Imposters. She has a major part in Roger Dodger, and in 2003 she featured prominently in Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World, a working relationship they would continue on other projects such as My Dad Is100 Years Old. She directed Green Porno in 2008, and that same year played mother to a troubled Joaquin Phoenix in the underrated drama Two Lovers. She would follow-up Green Porno with Scandalous Sea in 2009. She would team up with Maddin yet again for Keyhole in 2011, and that same year she would appear in Chicken With Plums.

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  • Fluent in English, Italian and French.
  • Was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teen and underwent an operation to correct the curvature of her spine, spending months in a body cast.
  • Made her film debut with a cameo appearance opposite her mother Ingrid Bergman in 1976's A Matter of Time.
  • Was a journalist for Italy's RAI Television before becoming a model.
  • Her memoir, Some of Me, was published in 1997.
  • Launched her own line of cosmetics called Manifesto in 2000.
  • In 2006, she published In the Name of the Father, the Daughter, and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini.
  • Raises and trains puppies for the Guide Dog Foundation.