Isabella Rossellini’s role in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” sparked controversy upon its release in 1986, with Roger Ebert criticizing Lynch for casting Rossellini in a role where she is degraded and humiliated. Rossellini plays the tormented nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens, who is held captive by the gangster Frank Booth. At one point in the film, she appears naked and disoriented on the front porch of a character’s home, saying, “He put his disease in me.”

Despite the criticisms, Rossellini defends her role in the film, stating that she was aware of the controversial nature of the script but never had any reservations about taking on the role. She worked closely with Lynch to ensure that her character was portrayed in a specific way, emphasizing the complexity of the character’s portrayal as a victim with a sense of agency. Rossellini and Lynch were romantic partners at the time of the film’s release, adding another layer to the dynamics of their collaboration.

Despite the polarizing reactions to “Blue Velvet,” the film was ultimately hailed by many critics as a masterpiece. Lynch received an Oscar nomination for best director, and the film won awards for best film and best director from the National Society of Film Critics. Rossellini praises Lynch’s direction in the film, calling him a great author and emphasizing the complexity of her character’s portrayal as an abused woman camouflaged behind a facade of beauty and obedience.

Reflecting on the criticism from Roger Ebert, Rossellini admits that reviews can be depressing and that negative comments can linger. However, she remains proud of her work in “Blue Velvet” and her collaboration with Lynch. Rossellini’s portrayal in the film is seen as a landmark role in her career, showcasing her range as an actress and her willingness to take on challenging and controversial material.

Rossellini is currently promoting her role in Alice Rohrwacher’s film “La Chimera,” which is set to be released in theaters. Despite the controversy surrounding “Blue Velvet” and the criticisms it faced, Rossellini’s performance in the film remains a standout moment in her career. The collaboration between Rossellini and Lynch on the film continues to be celebrated for its boldness, complexity, and the exploration of difficult themes. Ultimately, “Blue Velvet” remains a significant work in both Rossellini’s and Lynch’s filmography.

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