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Isabella Rossellini Insists She Wasn't 'Exploited' by David Lynch in “Blue Velvet”: 'I Chose to Play the Character'

Isabella Rossellini starred in David Lynch's 1986 movie 'Blue Velvet' with Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern and Dennis Hopper, among others

<p>De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty</p> Isabella Rossellini in 1986

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

Isabella Rossellini in 1986's Blue Velvet

Isabella Rossellini is refuting the idea that she was treated poorly while making David Lynch's 1986 film Blue Velvet.

While speaking with IndieWire recently about her new movie La Chimera, Rossellini, 71, was asked about Roger Ebert's decades-old review of Blue Velvet, in which the legendary late film critic wrote that she was "degraded, slapped around, humiliated and undressed in front of the camera" for the film.

“I didn’t read the reviews at the time [the movie] came out. I try not to read reviews," the actress, who was in a relationship with filmmaker Lynch at the time they made Blue Velvet, said. "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."


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

Blue Velvet marked Lynch's fourth feature-length film as a director. It stars Rossellini as a lounge singer named Dorothy Dorothy Vallens, whose husband and young son are being held hostage at the hands of a homicidal maniac (played by Dennis Hopper). Things become even more dangerous for Vallens when she begins a forbidden romance with Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) as he and a detective (George Dickerson) investigate a mysterious severed ear discovered in a parking lot. The film features explicit and disturbing sexual and violent content. Ebert also wrote in that review that Rossellini is "asked to do things in this film that require real nerve."

Related: Patricia Arquette Recalls Filming 'Terrifying' Nude Scenes in Lost Highway as Crew Said 'Gross Things'

<p>De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty</p> Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in 1986's Blue Velvet

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini in 1986's Blue Velvet

“When I read the script I understood it could’ve been controversial and difficult," the actress recalled to IndieWire. "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," she added.

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Blue Velvet is remembered as one of idiosyncratic filmmaker Lynch's best movies. It also featured Laura Dern and Hope Lange among its cast. Rossellini, who dated Lynch into the early '90s, later appeared in another one of his films, 1990's Wild at Heart.

Related: Isabella Rossellini Honors Mom Ingrid Bergman 40 Years After Death: 'I Think About Her Every Day'

<p>Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty</p> David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini on Feb. 24, 1988

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty

David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini on Feb. 24, 1988

While speaking with IndieWire about Blue Velvet, the actress questioned the notion that its story should have required a woman director due to the way her character is portrayed.

“I’m glad Blue Velvet was directed by David Lynch,” she said. “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."

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