Jamie McCarthy/Getty Isabella Rossellini
To much of the world, Ingrid Bergman was a movie star. The Oscar winner has starred in iconic films such as Casablanca, Gas light, Notorious and Murder on the Orient Express. But for Isabella Rossellini, Bergman was just “Mom.”
A star in her own right, Rossellini is known for films such as Death becomes her, Blue velvet and Marcel the Shell with Shoes Onas well as being known as the face of Lancôme cosmetics and serving as Ross’ “hall pass” in one episode The friends. (Her one-woman show, Darwin’s smile — about the intersection of art and science — will travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles in October. Rossellini, who has a master’s degree in animal behavior and conservation, says the show is a lesson in both evolution and acting, two subjects she has studied extensively. “Darwin wondered whether the innate expression of certain emotions such as smiling was shaped by evolution.”)
Today Rossellini looks back on the 40th anniversary of her mother’s death with love, respect and even a sophisticated sense of understanding. Bergman died on her 67th birthday on August 29, 1982.
“If I could say anything to mom, I’d say, ‘Thank you.’ I think about her every day,” he says. “When people pass, the relationship with the person remains the moment they passed. But they often don’t evolve. But for me — ‘as time goes on,’ to quote Casablanca, I understand mom even more. Admiration for my mom has grown.”
“Not the admiration as an actor,” explains Rossellini. “That was always there, but as a person. I realized how hard he fought.”
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Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Ingrid Bergman and Isabella Rossellini in 1971
It recounts how in the tabloid frenzy of 1950 Bergman—then married to Peter Lindstrom—fell in love with director Roberto Rossellini. The furor reached the US capital. “All this controversy and this attack, even the US Senate took a stand against my mom. And for her to stand up and say, ‘This is the man I want to marry.’ We’re going to have three children.” She He made i have three children from my dad. That’s pretty amazing, I think.”
Rossellini, 70 today, notes that her mother died just as her career was taking off. “I got my first cover Fashion in 1982, the year my mom died. He never saw my success as an actor. They weren’t with me when I had my own children or when I became a grandmother.” But, she says, Bergman left her individualistic spirit behind.
Bettmann/Getty Ingrid Bergman with her children in 1953
“I always loved my mom. I was never critical of her. She was always very independent and strong,” says Rossellini. “And I think it probably came from the fact that she was an orphan. Her mother died when she was 2 and her father died when she was 14. So she really had to fend for herself. She was born in Sweden and then when Garbo was retiring, they recruited her to come to Hollywood.”
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Rossellini tells the story of when she offered her mother a part in what would be her Hollywood debut in 1939 – a remake of her own 1936 Swedish film Intermezzo.
“The producer, David O. Selznick, said to her, ‘Okay, now we have to make you more sophisticated. We’ll change your eyebrows and do this and that.” And mom said, “Absolutely not. I have a long career in Sweden, I have made 11 films, I am married and have a daughter. I’m already known — and I’m not going to change myself.”
Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty
“Mom had this physical energy, like a Norse Viking. When she walked, I always felt like I was behind her, trying to catch up. My own daughter Elettra [Wiedeman] he has this. She is tall and strong like mom, with me running behind. I’m still catching up with mom today.”
“What I really want to tell her is that I understand how hard it must have been to work all the time. And I know she felt guilty, like I did, that she was working. But I’m the first one to tell my daughter, ‘No, don’t do it. . It’s an example for your children.” Independence comes first with financial independence.”
“I remember, when he was filming, people would say, ‘Your mother works, do you feel lonely?’ “Yes, I feel lonely,” I said. “I want her to come home, I can’t wait to have her home.” But, Mom, you gave me a gift, the gift of self-determination.”
Rossellini does not only honor her mother with words. Mama’s Farm is a 28-acre site in Brookhaven, New York, designed to resemble an Italian piazza, offering theater, workshops, and community-supported agriculture (CSA). Last year Mama’s Farm — founded by Rossellini and run by Wiedeman — added a boutique inn to the property.
“The rooms are very personal,” says Rossellini. “There is a room dedicated to my dad, with his racing car helmets. Another dedicated to [ex-partner] David Lynch. Another one to my chickens.” And, of course, there’s one dedicated to her mother: “It’s filled with her collection of hats. Mom is always around the farm.”
Rossellini’s one-woman show Darwin’s smile is at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco October 2-5 and at the Luckman Theater in Los Angeles October 8-9.