Isabella Rossellini on Going Experimental: 'These Days I'm More Avant-Garde Filmmaker Than Actress"

Rossellini - H 2013

Rossellini - H 2013

The 60-year-old model-turned-actress talks about shooting "Mammas," the latest in her series of comical shorts looking at the natural world.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Isabella Rossellini has exchanged the glamor of modeling and acting to simulate sex as a worm, a bee and more in her quirky short film series Green Porno. With Mammas, her series exploring maternal instinct in different animal species, set to screen in Berlin, the 60-year-old spoke with THR about her third career as an experimental filmmaker.

The Hollywood Reporter: Do you consider yourself more of a director than an actress these days?

Isabella Rossellini: At this point I think of myself more as an avant-garde filmmaker than an actress. … Young people in particular seem to like Green Porno. I sometimes tell people I did Blue Velvet, and they don't know it. But they know Green Porno!

THR: What's better: acting or directing?

Rossellini: Being an experimental filmmaker isn't as glamorous as having your picture on the cover of a fashion magazine, but I love it. I don't want to be that actress who just plays the "Oh, isn't she still beautiful and sexy at 60" characters.

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THR: How have fans reacted?

Rossellini: Some of my old fans say: "Has she gone mad? She used to be so beautiful, and now she's dressing up as a worm!" But for me, the films link up all the different parts of my life. I studied to be a costume designer before I became a model then an actress, but I was always fascinated by nature and biology.

THR: What do you hope people take away from Mammas?

Rossellini: Green Porno had a bit of an environmental message and Mammas has more of a feminist twist, but I don't see myself as an advocate of one political message or another. I just want people to laugh and maybe think, "I didn't know hamsters ate some of their babies." Nature is really crazy. Anything goes.