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Isabella Rossellini
Isabella Rossellini Cannes 2015.jpg
Rossellini at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini

(1952-06-18) 18 June 1952 (age 71)
Rome, Italy
  • Italy
  • United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1976–present
  • (m. 1979; div. 1982)
  • Jonathan Wiedemann
    (m. 1983; div. 1986)
Children 2, including Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann
  • Pia Lindström (maternal half-sister)
  • Renzo Rossellini (paternal half-brother)

Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini (Italian: [izaˈbɛlla rosselˈlini]; born 18 June 1952) is an Italian actress and model. The daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, she is noted for her successful tenure as a Lancôme model and an established career in American cinema.

She gained recognition as an actress after her breakthrough role in White Nights (1985) and again in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) for which she received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. Other notable films include Cousins (1989), Wild at Heart (1990), Death Becomes Her (1992), Fearless (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), Big Night (1996), Roger Dodger (2002), Infamous (2006), Two Lovers (2008), Enemy (2013), Joy (2015), and La chimera (2023). She is also known for her voice roles in Incredibles 2 (2018), and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021), and her role as General Malice in Human Resources (2023).

Rossellini received a Golden Globe Award nomination for the HBO film Crime of the Century (1996). She received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series nomination for Chicago Hope (1997). She also has guest starred in the sitcoms Friends and 30 Rock as well as the dramas Alias and The Blacklist. She portrayed Simone Beck in the HBO series Julia (2022).

Early life

Rossellini was born in Rome, the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, who was of Swedish and German descent, and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, who was born in Rome from a family originally from Pisa, Tuscany. She has three siblings from her mother: her fraternal twin sister Isotta Rossellini, who is an adjunct professor of Italian literature; a brother, Robertino Ingmar Rossellini; and a half-sister, Pia Lindström, who formerly worked on television and is from her mother's first marriage with Petter Lindström. She has four other siblings from her father's two other marriages: Romano (who died at age nine), Renzo, Gil, and Raffaella. Growing up, she received "a liberal Catholic education".

Rossellini was raised in Rome, as well as in Santa Marinella and Paris. She underwent an operation for appendicitis at the age of five. At 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. In order to correct it, she had to undergo an 18-month ordeal of painful stretchings, body casts and surgery on her spine using pieces of one of her shin bones. Consequently, she has incision scars on her back and shin.

At 19, she went to New York City, where she attended Finch College, while working as a translator and a RAI television reporter. She also appeared intermittently on L'altra Domenica (The Other Sunday), a TV show featuring Roberto Benigni. However, she decided not to stay full-time in New York until her marriage to Martin Scorsese (1979–1982), whom she met when she interviewed him for RAI.



At the age of 28, her modeling career began, when she was photographed by Bruce Weber for British Vogue and by Bill King for American Vogue. During her career, she has also worked with many other renowned photographers, including Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh, Norman Parkinson, Eve Arnold, Francesco Scavullo, Annie Leibovitz, Denis Piel, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Her image has appeared on such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and Elle. In March 1988, an exhibition dedicated to photographs of her, called Portrait of a Woman, was held at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris.

Rossellini's modeling career led her into the world of cosmetics, when she became the exclusive spokesmodel for the French cosmetics brand Lancôme in 1982, replacing Nancy Dutiel in the United States and Carol Alt in Europe. At Lancôme, in 1990, she was involved in product development for the fragrance Trésor. In 1996, when she was 43, she was removed as the face of Lancôme for being "too old". In 2016, at the age of 63, she was rehired by Lancôme's new female CEO, Francoise Lehmann, as a global brand ambassador for the company.

In October 1992, Rossellini modelled for a book by Madonna. Rossellini also appeared in Madonna's music video, released in autumn 1992.

Rossellini was the inaugural brand ambassador for the Italian Silversea Cruises company in 2004, and she appeared in print ads and on their website. Barbara Muckermann, the senior vice-president of worldwide marketing and communications in 2004, said at the time of the announcement, "Isabella is the ideal personification of Silversea's exclusive standard of elegance, glamour and sophistication."

Film and television

Isabella Rossellini
Rossellini on location at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin in 1992 to shoot some scenes for the film The Innocent

Rossellini made her film debut with a brief appearance as a nun opposite her mother in the 1976 film A Matter of Time. Her first role was the 1979 film Il Prato, and then in 1980 she appeared in Renzo Arbore's film Il pap'occhio with Martin Scorsese.

Following her mother's death in 1982, Rossellini was cast in her first American film, White Nights (1985). This was followed by her notable role as the nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in the David Lynch film Blue Velvet, in which she also contributed her own singing. Other significant film roles during this period include her work in Cousins (1989), Death Becomes Her (1992), Fearless (1993), and Immortal Beloved (1994). In 1996, she appeared as herself in an episode of the TV series Friends called "The One with Frank Jr."

In 2003, Rossellini was a recurring character on the television series Alias. In that same year, she also appeared in the Canadian film The Saddest Music in the World, directed by Guy Maddin. In 2004, she played the High Priestess Thar in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Legend of Earthsea, and the director Robert Lieberman stated that Rossellini "brings a very big persona to the screen. She carries a great deal of beauty. We needed someone who had a feeling of authority to be this kind of mother superior type and at the same time not be totally dour and unattractive."

In 2006, Rossellini appeared in several television documentaries. First, she narrated a two-hour television special on Italy for the Discovery Channel's Discovery Atlas series. Then, alongside Segway PT inventor Dean Kamen, she spoke about her past and current activities on an episode of Iconoclasts, a series that featured on the Sundance Channel (known as SundanceTV from 2014 onwards), an independent film network founded by film industry veteran Robert Redford. The Sundance Channel then purchased the 2006 Guy Maddin-directed short film My Dad Is 100 Years Old, a tribute that Rossellini created for her father. In the film, she played almost every role, including Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock and her mother, Ingrid Bergman. Rossellini's twin sister, Isotta Ingrid, criticized the short film, calling it an "inappropriate" tribute.

In 2007, Rossellini guest starred on two episodes of the television show 30 Rock, playing Alec Baldwin's character's ex-wife. Around the same time, Rossellini enrolled at Hunter College in New York to study animal behavior, and the Sundance Channel commissioned her to contribute a short-film project to the environmental program The Green.

Enemy 36 (9766938626)
Rossellini at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival

In Mammas (2013), Rossellini explores the maternal aspects of the animal world. She is the primary actor and plays the maternal versions of animals such as spiders and hamsters.

Rossellini acted in the film Enemy, with Jake Gyllenhaal, which was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Rossellini praised the film during a TIFF interview: "I love the subtlety of the film. It reminded me of Kafka. It's very metaphysical, but yet it's also a solid thriller. It made me leap up out of my seat at the end." Rossellini also played the silent film actor Rudolph Valentino's mother in Vlad Kozlov's Silent Life, a feature-length version of the director's silent, black-and-white short film Daydreams of Rudolph Valentino. Kozlov's film was due for release in 2012, but, as of February 2014, the film has not been officially released.

Rossellini was the President of the Jury for the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011. In April 2015, she was announced as the President of the Jury for the Un Certain Regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2016, Rossellini was cast as Rita Marks in the Hulu original series, Shut Eye.

Stage and live performance

In 2004, Rossellini acted in an Off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome, with Richard Thomas.

Rossellini's "smallest circus in the world", a stage play exploring the ability of animals to think, was premiered in May 2018, at the Jerome Robbins Theater of the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The play "addresses the scientific discoveries about animal minds, intelligence, and emotions. Joined onstage by various animals portrayed by Pan, her trained dog, Rossellini transforms herself into Aristotle, Descartes, B.F. Skinner, Charles Darwin, and more, to deliver a vivid monologue about the brilliance of the animal kingdom".

Rossellini performed "Link Link Circus" (as in Ring Ring) as a benefit for The Gateway Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County, in Bellport, New York, the south shore Long Island village where she is a local organic farmer. "Link Link Circus" is performed by Rossellini in a black and red ringmaster's tailcoat, with the assistance of her dog, Peter Pan, who performs a few tricks and is costumed as other animals including a chicken and a dinosaur. The set was designed by Andy Byers, who is also the costume designer and composer for the show. In promoting the show, which was performed twice at The Gateway, Rossellini appeared in Long Island's Newsday. Proceeds from The Gateway production of "Link Link Circus" also benefited The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center, a non-profit located near Rossellini's Bellport home in Patchogue, New York.

Rossellini has been a frequent guest narrator at Disney's Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World, most recently appearing in the 2019 and 2022 seasons.


Rossellini is involved in conservation efforts. She is the president and director of the Howard Gilman Foundation — a leading institution focused on the preservation of wildlife, arts, photography and dance — and she has been a board member of the Wildlife Conservation Network. She received US$100,000 from Disney to help with her conservation efforts in those two organizations. She has also helped with the Central Park Conservancy, and is a major benefactor of the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society in Bellport, Long Island, where she is a part-time resident.

Rossellini is involved in training guide dogs for the blind. She is a former trustee of the George Eastman House and a 1997 George Eastman Award honoree for her support of film preservation. She is also a National Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Personal life

Isabella Rossellini David Lynch Cannes
Rossellini with David Lynch at the Cannes Film Festival (1990)

Rossellini holds dual Italian and United States citizenship. She speaks English, French and Italian fluently. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

She was married to filmmaker Martin Scorsese from 1979 to 1982. After her marriage to Scorsese ended, she was married to Jon Wiedemann from 1983 to 1986.

She has a daughter, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann (born 1983) and an adopted son, Roberto Rossellini (born 1993).

Filmmaker David Lynch and Rossellini were a couple from 1986/1987 to 1990/1991. Rossellini was engaged to English actor Gary Oldman from 1994 to 1996.

She has always lived near her fraternal twin sister Isotta Ingrid, while growing up in Rome, Italy or residing in New York City.



Year Title Role Notes
1976 A Matter of Time Sister Pia
1979 The Meadow Eugenia
1980 In the Pope's Eye Isabella
1985 White Nights Darya Greenwood
1986 Blue Velvet Dorothy Vallens
1987 Tough Guys Don't Dance Madeleine Regency
Siesta Marie
Dark Eyes Claudia
1988 Zelly and Me Mademoiselle Zelly
1989 Cousins Maria
Red Riding Hood Lady Jean
1990 Wild at Heart Perdita Durango
Dames Galantes Victoire
1991 Caccia Alla Vedova Rosanna
1992 Death Becomes Her Lisle von Rhuman
1993 The Pickle Planet Cleveland Woman Uncredited
The Innocent Maria
Fearless Laura Klein
1994 Wyatt Earp Big Nose Kate
Immortal Beloved Anne Marie
1995 Croce e delizia Henriette
1996 Big Night Gabriella
The Funeral Clara
1998 Left Luggage Mrs. Kalman
The Impostors The Veiled Queen
2000 Il Cielo cade Kathcen
2002 Empire La Colombiana
Roger Dodger Joyce
2003 The Tulse Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story Mme. Moitessier
The Saddest Music in the World Lady Helen Port-Huntley
2004 The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vauz to the Sea Mme. Moitessier
Heights Liz
King of the Corner Rachel Spivak
2005 La Fiesta Del Chivo Urania
My Dad Is 100 Years Old Herself
2006 The Architect Julia Walters
Infamous Marella Agnelli
2007 The Last Jews of Libya Narrator
2008 The Accidental Husband Mrs. Bollenbecker
2009 Two Lovers Ruth Kraditor
My Dog Tulip Ms. Cavenenini Voice
2010 The Solitude of Prime Numbers Adele
2011 Keyhole Haycinth
Chicken with Plums Parvine
Silent Life Gabriella
Late Bloomers Mary
2013 Enemy Mother
2014 The Zigzag Kid Lola
2015 Closet Monster Buffy Voice
Joy Trudy
2018 Incredibles 2 Ambassador Henrietta Selick Voice
Vita & Virginia Lady Sackville
2019 Preludio- Il Film Voice
2021 Land of Dreams Jane
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Connie Voice
2023 Cat Person Dr. Enid Zabala
Problemista Narrator
La Chimera Flora
Silent Retreat Michelle Keaton Post-production
Conclave Sister Agnes Filming
2024 Spaceman Jakub's grandmother Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1989–1990 The Tracey Ullman Show Mae 3 episodes
1990 Ivory Hunters Maria DiConti Television film
1991 Lies of the Twins Rachel Marks Television film
1993 Fallen Angels Babe Lonsdale Episode: "The Frightening Frammis"
1994 The Gift Gabriella Television film
1995 Tales from the Crypt Betty Spinelli Episode: "You, Murderer"
1996 Friends Herself Episode: "The One with Frank Jr."
1996 Crime of the Century Anna Hauptmann Television film
1997 Chicago Hope Professor Marina Giannini 2 episodes
1997 The Odyssey Athena Miniseries; 2 episodes
1998 Merlin Nimue Miniseries; 2 episodes
1999 The Simpsons Astrid Weller Voice, episode: "Mom and Pop Art"
2000 Don Quixote The Duchess Television film
2002 Napoléon Joséphine de Beauharnais 4 episodes
2003 Monte Walsh Countess Martine Television film
2004 Earthsea Thar Miniseries; 2 episodes
2004–2005 Alias Katya Derevko 5 episodes
2006 Infected Carla Plume Television film
2006 Filthy Gorgeous Antonia Television film
2007 30 Rock Bianca Donaghy 2 episodes
2008–2009 Green ... Various animals and insects 18 episodes
2009 The Phantom Dr. Bella Lithia 2 episodes
2012 Treme Theresa Episode: "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say"
2013 The Blacklist Floriana Campo Episode: "The Freelancer"
2016–2017 Shut Eye Rita Marks 20 episodes
2019 Tuca & Bertie Pat Voice, episode: "The Jelly Lakes"
2020–2021 The Owl House Bat Queen Voice, 3 episodes
2021 Domina Balbina Episode: "Rise"
2022 Julia Simone Beck 3 episodes
2022 Los Espookys Herself Episode: "El Eclipse (The Eclipse)"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Goosebumps: Escape from Horrorland Lady Cadaver Voice role
1997 Ceremony of Innocence Sabine Strohem Voice role


Also in 1997, Rossellini was awarded The George Eastman Award. In 1998, she received an Honourable Mention at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival for her role in the film Left Luggage. In 2013, she was awarded with the Berlinale Camera at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. In 2016, she was granted an honorary doctorate by the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
1986 Independent Spirit Award Best Female Lead Blue Velvet Won
1996 Golden Globe Award Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Television Film Crime of the Century Nominated
1997 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Chicago Hope Nominated
1998 Berlin International Film Festival Special Mention Left Luggage Honored
2013 Berlinale Camera Honored

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Isabella Rossellini para niños

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