‘Blue Velvet’ star Isabella Rossellini denies David Lynch ‘exploited’ her for the film

‘Blue Velvet’ star Isabella Rossellini denies David Lynch ‘exploited’ her for the film
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"Blue Velvet" remains a cult classic and somewhat controversial film from offbeat director David Lynch, and the film’s star, Isabella Rossellini, is correcting some of the negativity connected to it.

In a new interview with IndieWire, Rossellini responded to the late Roger Ebert’s one-star review of the 1986 film.

"I didn’t read the reviews at the time [‘Blue Velvet’] came out. I try not to read reviews. They’re always depressing. There’s always something that, even if [the review is] good, there is always one sentence that is negative and stays inside you forever," she told the outlet.

She continued, "But I remember I was told that Roger Ebert said that [Lynch] exploited me, and I was surprised, because I was an adult. I was 31 or 32. I chose to play the character."

Isabella Rossellini Smiling on the red carpet
In an interview with IndieWire, Isabella Rossellini denied she had been "exploited" for her role in "Blue Velvet."


Ebert’s review at the time of the film’s release stated Rossellini "is asked to do things in this film that require real nerve… She is degraded, slapped around, humiliated and undressed in front of the camera. And when you ask an actress to endure those experiences, you should keep your side of the bargain by putting her in an important film."


"Blue Velvet" was the breakout role for Rossellini, the daughter of Hollywood icons Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. She had done some acting and modeling before, but "Blue Velvet" shot her to stardom.

In the film, she plays nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens, who is mentally and physically abused by Dennis Hopper’s sadistic gangster Frank Booth. After a college student, played by Kyle MacLachlan, stumbles across a severed ear in a field, he’s pulled into the dark underworld inhabited by Rossellini’s and Hopper’s characters.

Dennis Hopper wearing an oxygen mask in a scene with Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet
Dennis Hopper's character holds Rossellini's nightclub singer captive, physically and mentally abusing her in "Blue Velvet."


Rossellini and "Blue Velvet" director Lynch were in a relationship during the film’s release, and she recalled having a favorable working relationship with him.

"When I read the script I understood it could’ve been controversial and difficult," the 71-year-old said. "I did say to David, ‘You don’t have to say the lines, but I would like to rehearse with you all the scenes and paraphrase the lines.’ I wanted to make sure that what you’re seeing is a person who has maybe a kind of Stockholm syndrome, and we rehearsed for a full day. I felt reassured that what I saw in the character, the way I wanted to play, he had agreed."

Isabella Rossellini and David Lynch posing together in 1990
Rossellini and David Lynch dated during the release of "Blue Velvet" and made another film together, "Wild at Heart," before ending their relationship.

The couple split in the early 90s, after making another film together, "Wild at Heart."

Due to the nature of the abuse experienced by her character, some have questioned if a male director was the right person to handle the material.


When asked about it by IndieWire, Rossellini disagreed with the "rigidity of if you make a film about a woman, it has to be a woman [director]."

She continued, "First of all, ‘Blue Velvet’ is also about men, so who’s going to make the film? If you make a film about the aliens, they have to have aliens direct? It doesn’t make any sense."

David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini sitting in chairs together in the late 1980s
Rossellini recalled having a good working relationship with Lynch on "Blue Velvet."

"I’m glad ‘Blue Velvet’ was directed by David Lynch," Rossellini added. "It’s one of his best films. He’s such a great author. I think my character was the first time we did an abused woman, a portrait of an abused woman, but also she camouflaged herself behind what she was asked to be, which was sexy and beautiful and singing, and she obeys the order, and is also victimized it. That’s the complexity of ‘Blue Velvet’ but also the great talent of David Lynch. I thought he did a fantastic film. I love ‘Blue Velvet.'"

Rossellini most recently starred in the Adam Sandler Netflix film, "Spaceman" and has two more films awaiting release dates, "Silent Retreat" and "Conclave," the latter of which co-stars Ralph Fiennes and Stanley Tucci.

Original article source: ‘Blue Velvet’ star Isabella Rossellini denies David Lynch ‘exploited’ her for the film