BEST KNOWN FOR: The daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, Isabella Rossellini is an Italian-born actress known for such films as Blue Velvet, Cousins, and Immortal Beloved.
IIsabella Rossellini appeared in her first film in 1976, and has since made over 50 other films, including Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Big Night. She was also the face of Lancôme cosmetics for 14 years.
After growing up in Italy, Isabella Rossellini came to the United States when she was 19 and studied at Finch College and the New School for Social Research in New York City. Rossellini made her first movie appearance in 1976, with a small part in her mother’s film A Matter of Time. She then appeared in several European TV dramas before her first big-screen starring role in 1979’s The Meadow.
In the early 1980s, Rossellini’s acting career went on a brief hiatus so she could focus on modeling, becoming the face of Lancôme cosmetics in 1982 (a post she held until 1996). While her modeling career has since become secondary to her acting career, she has appeared on the covers of such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Elle. In 1985, she returned strongly to film, appearing in the hit White Nights and in the ultimate cult classic, Blue Velvet, in 1986. In Blue Velvet she played Dorothy Vallens, an abused small-town nightclub singer. The character proved to be her breakthrough role. Soon after, she starred with Ted Danson in Cousins, receiving noteworthy reviews for her performance.
Isabella Rossellini kicked off the 1990s by appearing in the controversial David Lynch film Wild at Heart. The film went on to become yet another Lynch cult classic, and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, all while offending audiences and critics alike. Her next several films included more mainstream fare, and she found herself in big-budget Hollywood films such as Death Becomes Her, Wyatt Earp and Immortal Beloved.
The year 1995 was a good one for Isabella Rossellini, as she starred in the hit Big Night, which had a powerhouse cast and was released to wide American and international acclaim. On the heels of Big Night, she starred again in offbeat films, such as Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral (1996), the Dutch film Left Luggage (1998), and the 1998 comedy The Imposters. Despite her success in larger films, Rossellini continued to seek out roles in small, sometimes oddball, films such as The Saddest Music in the World, My Dog Tulip and Chicken with Plums.
In addition to her work as an actress, Isabella Rossellini is also known for her activism. She holds prominent roles in such groups as the Wildlife Conservation Network, the George Eastman House, and the Central Park Conservancy.