Italian actress Isabella Rossellini said Monday the character of a down-at-heel aristocrat she plays in Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera, in competition at Cannes May 16-27, is “very poetic”.
The 71-year-old, star of Blue Velvet (1986) and Death Becomes Her (1992), is getting a special career David di Donatello award at the Italian Oscars this summer.
Speaking about her latest role, Rossellini told reporters “it’s a film that talks about tomb raiders and has references to the afterlife, in particular referring to the Etruscans.
I’m an impoverished aristocratic lady who has no money anymore and who lives in a very beautiful but completely broken-down home, and has two daughters, one of whom is dead but the lady won’t admit it. So she lives with one foot in the present and the other in the afterlife, a very poetic character.”
Rossellini has had a varied career: actor, model, journalist, director, and author of theatre pieces.
At one point, at the age of 55, she went back to college and got a degree in ethology (a zoologist who studies the behavior of animals in their natural habitats). In part because she loves animals, but also because as she has said, “my work as an actress and model had practically ended.”
Rossellini was always more than a one-trick pony, acting was only one of her many pursuits: “I never thought about my career” she has stated. She explains that her career arc was all by chance, from her role as assistant to late journalist Gianni Minà for sports interviews, to the meeting with comedian and musician Renzo Arbore and comedian philosopher Luciano De Crescenzo for the pioneering TV hit L’Altra Domenica, to her marriage to Martin Scorsese and being a model for Bruce Weber.
“Now, at 71, I want to continue my work as an ethologist and make my films on these subjects, now and then a film as an actress, but I have no particular intention to change lifestyle.”
And what does she think about Italian movies? “I really admire Italian cinema, from Sorrentino to Martone: certainly, I would have liked to work with them, but it isn’t a goal of mine. If they ask me, I’d be very willing. Otherwise, I’ll continue my work as an ethologist.”
Her next project is a TV series about American cook Julia Child. “I play the French master chef who teaches her how to cook”, she says.