'I Couldn't Ask Another Actor to Do This.'
Isabella Rossellini Followed Her Animal Instinct to 'Green Porno'

Sunday, March 29, 2009

If you were one of those people who had Isabella Rossellini on your "Five celebs I'm allowed to sleep with guilt-free" list, please just stop reading. And never visit SundanceChannel.com, and certainly never click to "Green Porno," because that's where you will find the "Blue Velvet" erotic goddess 1) dressed up in insect costumes (flies, bees); 2) simulating sex acts with giant fake bugs.

"Green Porno," a series of one-minute movies that are part of an effort to rejuvenate the short-film genre, is graphic, disturbing and often hilarious. The first season debuted last year and went viral online. In season 2, which premieres April 1, Rossellini will focus on the boudoir activities of sea creatures -- think barnacles, starfish, whales and limpets.

-- Monica Hesse

Animal sex. Why?

I've been interested in animal behavior since I was a little girl. It's my hobby -- I raise dogs for the blind, I train them. . . . I thought, if I do sex life of animals, everybody's interested. Because even if people are not so interested in animals as I am, everybody's interested in sex.

What are the particular actorly challenges associated with playing a nonhuman? We hear the worm costume was beastly.

The earthworm was the hardest one. I had a costume that was 35 feet long, and I couldn't move my arms, and I had to be at an angle lifting myself [in a stomach crunch] for hours. If I had a scratch I couldn't scratch it. . . .

I think that partially I do all the roles because I wouldn't know how to direct an actor if he asked me: "What is the motivation here? How do I characterize this?" That's why I have to work with myself. I couldn't ask another actor to do this.

In a lot of the films, you play a male animal . . .

Often the males are the ones that move. . . . It was already so absurd to play a worm or a barnacle that I didn't think it was a problem to play a male. But then when [the films] came out, I'd hear, "You're playing a male?"

What about that I'm playing a fly?!

Tell us about a particularly fascinating sex practice we'll learn about in the next season.

The Anglerfish was only discovered recently, and when [scientists] first caught one on the surface, they thought it had a parasite. But actually it was the husband -- the male. The male attaches itself to the female and degenerates completely into a sperm bank. It stops eating, it stops swimming. It's an independent animal when it's a single man, but once it marries, that's it. It just becomes a sex organ. Isn't that incredible?

What have you learned about human sexuality from this project?

Everybody asks me that! I think it's a portrait of our egocentric human nature. "How does it pertain to us? What does a worm teach us? Is there any way you can make a parallel?" I think it tells a lot about human vanity.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company