The Village News Columns: People


A Visit with Isabella Rossellini
February 2012

Isabella RosselliniWe recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of the nicest, most down to earth people you’re ever going to meet, Bellport’s own Isabella Rossellini. The occasion was a special limited showing of her newest film, “Late Bloomers,” at the Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center (Plazamac) in Patchogue. Ms. Rossellini stars, along with William Hurt, in this wonderful and quirky new film.

If you’re in your 60’s, you’ll see yourself and your friends on the screen. If you’re in your 40’s, you’ll see your parents on the screen. If you’re in your 20’s, you’ll see your grandparents on the screen and understand why they aren’t wearing shawls and sitting in rockers in front of a TV set as you expected them to. Let’s face it, life after 60 isn’t what it used to be and that’s great!

“Late Bloomers” is a comedy about age. It was written and directed by Julie Gavras, the daughter of Academy Award winning director, Costa Gavras. The stars play a long married couple living in London and when their last child leaves the house, the couple is left with the unnerving reality of enduring each other’s company as they cope with the stresses and strains—physical and emotional—of growing older.

Ms. Rossellini is known for wearing many different “hats.” She has had and continues to have careers in film, modeling, cosmetics, theatre, and TV. She is a writer, activist, and benefactor to many organizations and groups. Winner of many awards, Ms. Rossellini has even written and co-directed a series of short films where she reenacts the mating rituals of various animals, including a male worker bee.

Ms. Rossellini feels she is drawn to unusual projects because of her father, Roberto Rossellini, the famed director, who was known as an experimental film maker and pioneered many different film styles. As a result, she feels comfortable and “at home” with unusual projects.

We were surprised to find that the writer/director of Late Bloomers, Julie Gavras, is only 35 or 36 years old. Ms. Rossellini feels that Ms. Gavras gained her insights into what life is like as you get older by watching her parents. Ms. Gavras comes from a family that’s half French and half Greek and her father is quite famous as a director and film preservationist. In the film, rather than being a famous director, William Hurt plays the role of a famous architect. Ms. Gavras’ mother was completely dedicated to the family and “schlepped” the family around the world where her father was making films. Ms. Rossellini feels the film is really an “homage” to Ms. Gavras’ parents.

“We are part of the first generation who, while in their 60’s, may have another 20 or 30 years to look forward to and there really isn’t any design as to what we’re supposed to do. Retiring was meant for the last six or seven years of your life where you went on a cruise or trip to where ever you wanted to go and die, but this isn’t something you would do for the last 20 or 30 years of your life. In some ways, it’s like graduating from high school. You’re faced with the question, ‘What do I want to do with the rest of my life?’

If you have passion, you are blessed, but if you don’t have passion, this can be quite a difficult time of life. We sometimes feel enslaved by the roles that are given to us, when we are young being a student, when you’re an adult, work and raising a family responsibly. You sometimes feel constrained, but at our age there is on one hand total freedom, but then sometimes the question, what do we do with it.”

Ms. Rossellini feels blessed with many interests. She can lose herself in working on a film or working with the Guide Dog Foundation raising puppies. She just bought 30 acres in Brookhaven and has always dreamed of owning a little farm. She’s looking forward to working with the Organic Gardening organization in Brookhaven Hamlet.

Ms. Rossellini learned about Bellport in 1982 while working as a model with famed photographer Bruce Weber. At that time she lived in the City and because she didn’t drive, it was very easy to take a train to the Bellport Station and then take a cab to anywhere she wanted to go. She would do this when she was working with Bruce Weber, but also when she just wanted to get away or go to the beach for the day.

When her daughter was born, she thought that maybe she should buy a little home in the area for weekends because that way she could have a swimming pool and her daughter could learn how to swim. Her first home, which she owned for many years, was in East Patchogue, but one day on a bike ride, she rode past a barn and 6 acres in Bellport that she fell in love with. It gave her lots of room and the ability to garden, which she loves.

Ms. Rossellini sold the home in East Patchogue and began work on restoring the barn and turning it into her home, but at that point, she was still using it as a weekend home. Then, when her son started high school, he wanted to study Marine Biology and didn’t want to live in the City, so she decided to move to Bellport full time. Her son is now a student at Stony Brook.

It’s not unusual to have celebrities visiting or living in Bellport. Unlike the “Hamptons” where celebrities are actively sought out, in Bellport, “The community really respects who you are as a person and they completely understand that this is your private home, your private life, and that you are here instead of in the Hamptons because you want this privacy.” This is what allowed Ms. Rossellini to become part of the community. “There isn’t that burden of having to be all done up, dressed up, or having to be a persona.” She can simply be herself. Ms. Rossellini likes the Hamptons. “They are beautiful and I go often to visit friends or just walk on the beach, but I’m a little bit afraid that in the summer I wouldn’t want to live there.”

What is different about Isabella Rossellini is that she really has become an active part of the community. She wants programs like the Plazamac to work and that’s why she supports it. She doesn’t want our community to turn into Nassau County or suburbia. She wants it to retain its rural flavor. To her, this is about quality of life. Her children can grow up seeing a farm and knowing how it works instead of just going to a supermarket. “It’s such an addition to a life and it needs to be preserved.” She says that is partially why she recently bought the 30 acres in Brookhaven Hamlet.

Finally, you’ll probably be surprised to know that Isabella Rossellini is very involved in training puppies for the Guide Dog Foundation. She takes them into her home until they are one year old and can begin their formal Guide Dog training program. It takes a very special person to be able to take a puppy into your home for the first year of its life and then let it go knowing that it’s for the better good and you’re making an important contribution to another person’s life.



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2/8/2012, Gerard Cormier wrote...

The article on Isabella Rossellini is such a treat for me since I've had the pleasure of meeting Isabella whenever she came to our property to get first hand information on the house and land up for sale. I'm happy to know so much more about her and her interests and activities. I found her so enthusiastic and so in love with life, and what I read here fills in the picture I already had of her. Thank you.



2/7/2012, Joseph Gagliano wrote...

Great article. For many years I have stated the greatest asset that this village has is not only the bay, ocean, tennis, golf etc. but foremost the 'RESIDENTS' and Isabella confirms my philosophy. She embodies what we all must strive for!!



2/7/2012, Lorraine Fosmire wrote...

I found the interview most interesting and revealing especially about the guide dog foundation and her work with it. Also very happy to see that she has purchased the Marist Brothers' adjacent property. Always knew that she is a very down to earth person. Good for her and her family.