Isabella Rossellini On Seduce Me, Possibly Returning to 30 Rock and 6-Foot Penises
She may be the daughter of legendary Italian director Roberto Rossellini and screen icon Ingrid Bergman, but Isabella Rossellini is not above dressing up in a praying mantis costume and simulating the insect's mating ritual for your amusement. The Wildlife Conservation Network board member has been, ahem, doing it two seasons now on the Sundance Channel's Green Porno series, which the actress also writes and produces. Rossellini's new series Seduce Me premieres April 20 on SundanceChannel.com. The reproductive habits of salmon, bats and bed bugs are the new focus in this round of nature nookie, shot with the same simple comic style that made her first series so successful.
In anticipation of Seduce Me's premiere, Rossellini phoned Movieline to discuss animal mating, recall who was laughing during those sadomasochistic scenes in Blue Velvet, and reveal how she does not plan on celebrating the centennial of her mother.
Hi there. How is London?
London is raining. [Chuckles] What else is new?
You've been exploring the mating habits of animals for the past three years -- first with Green Porno and now with Seduce Me. What is it about the courting rituals of bugs and bats that interests you?
Of course I am interested in mating, but I am interested in animal behavior in general. When I decided to make films about animals, I knew that people were probably more interested in sex than just animals. I figured that films about how animals mate would be more popular -- and I was right!
I read that in the upcoming season, you act as a salmon, a bed bug and a bat. Which was the most fun for you?
Well, we are going to do a series of 10 films, of which five are ready. I am writing the other five, which we will shoot in May after I finish this film. When I choose the animals, I choose them for their diversity so that I can cover many different ways of courtship or many different ways of mating so it's not just that I have a favorite one. I don't go by that criteria. I go by birds that change plumage and do dances or animals that fight so that I can show the many, many different ways that animals mate. Sometimes they don't even have a particular sex because they are hermaphrodites or they change sex. Some animals are born a certain sex and they change later, so I try to illustrate the strangest thing that exists.
Are there ever mating rituals that are too risque for you or for Sundance?
No, no, not at all. The films are comical and hopefully informative, but they are simplistic.
Your papier-mâché sets are beautiful. What happens to them after you film each episode?
Generally they come apart. They are made out of paper so they are not really built to last. We had an exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum and it was very successful. They asked us to bring some of the animals, so we built them more solidly and then we drove a truck full of the papier-mâché figures to Toronto. Actually, we had a collection of 22 different penises too, each six feet tall. We made all of the penises the same height but they were from different animals, from elephants to spiders -- well, spiders don't have a penis -- so elephants to dragonflies. But you know, they were all very big and different shapes and the museum kept them for eternity. But the rest are deconstructed and reintegrated. But sometimes they get so damaged from the filming that they are not worth keeping really.
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