Isabella Rossellini: I Was ‘Lucky’ Not to Be Cast in Adrian Lyne’s ‘Exploitative’ ‘9 1/2 Weeks’

"I was happy I was not chosen," Rossellini said of the role that ultimately went to Kim Basinger.
BLUE VELVET, Angelo Badalamenti (at piano), Isabella Rossellini, 1986. ©De Laurentis Group/Courtesy Everett Collection
Isabella Rossellini in "Blue Velvet"
©De Laurentiis Group/Courtesy Everett Collection

Isabella Rossellini may have bared it all in beloved films like David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” and Robert Zemeckis’ “Death Becomes Her,” but the actress is grateful not to have been cast in NSFW classic “9 1/2 Weeks.”

Rossellini auditioned and screen-tested for the 1986 psychosexual drama about an intoxicatingly toxic relationship; ultimately, Kim Basinger was cast opposite Mickey Rourke. “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal,” and “Deep Water” director Adrian Lyne helmed the feature.

“After seeing the film, in a way, I was happy I was not chosen,” Rossellini revealed to Vulture. “I thought that Adrian’s films were a little exploitative.”

She continued, “I thought it was not very deep. His films are a little exploitative. I was lucky not to be chosen. Sometimes God helps me. I may not help myself, but God does.”

Looking back at the legacy of “Death Becomes Her” as part of the 30th anniversary of the film, Rossellini compared her onscreen nudity with posing for Madonna’s infamous “Sex” book. Rossellini called Madonna’s vision “liberating” and a “portrait of sex” in the vein of Frida Kahlo’s work.

“[Madonna] wanted it to be openly bisexual,” Rossellini said of the portraits included in the book. “So I agreed to be in it, but I did say, especially after ‘Blue Velvet,’ that I didn’t think I had it in me to do another naked scene. I was so persecuted. There were so many complaints.”

Rossellini then reflected on the subject of nudity in America, something that audiences “are avoiding” onscreen.

“Either they’re scandalized and say ‘why did you do it’ or they say someone is exploiting you or you’re an exhibitionist,” Rossellini said. “There’s a puritanical streak. There are many things I loved about becoming an American, but this is the part I can’t quite figure out. What is the logic? How does it work?”

Director Olivia Wilde recently made similar statements, sharing that the original trailer for the highly publicized psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” was even steamier.

“There’s a lot that had to be taken out of the trailer,” Wilde told the Associated Press. “The MPA came down hard on me and the trailer at the last second and I had to cut some shots, which I was upset about because I thought they took it up another notch. Audiences aren’t as puritanical as corporations think they are. And yet people get upset. I mean, people are upset with me already over this. I think it’s a testament to the film. We want to be provocative. The idea is not to make you feel safe.”

Wilde, who previously credited Lyne’s “Fatal Attraction” and “Indecent Proposal” as inspirations for the “Don’t Worry Darling” script co-written by Katie Silberman, added, “I do think the lack of eroticism in American film is kind of new. Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something that we just don’t see very often unless you’re talking about queer cinema.”

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