Isabella Rossellini to perform DARWIN’S SMILE at 28th annual Cucalorus Film Festival


Isabella Rossellini will perform NEW ORIGINAL SHOW ‘DARWIN’S SMILE’ at Cucalorus Film Festival


October 11, 2022 – Isabella Rossellini is scheduled to perform her new one-woman show, Darwin’s Smile, at this year’s 28th annual Cucalorus Film Festival, shortly after its  premiere at The Gateway in Bellport, NY in August. Darwin’s Smile reconciles two worlds that are often at opposite ends of the spectrum: art and science. Reading Charles Darwin’s book “The Expression of Emotions on Man and Animals” revealed to her that the continuity between humans and animals can also be detected in the expression of emotions.


Isabella explores how empathy, which is at the base of acting, is also necessary for the study of animal behavior (ethology). The show is both a lesson on evolution and acting. In her usual comical tones, she demonstrates how acting could be used to understand the mysterious nature of animals and their emotions. With humor and simple, innocent devices, she plays dogs, cats, chickens, peacocks, and of course, Charles Darwin.


Isabella explains, “During the Covid lockdown I had ample time to reflect about my passions for theater and science. It seemed that these two interests of mine were both distinct and separate: one satisfied my heart, while the other satisfied my brain. When I understood that they could be integrated, my heart and my brain finally became reconciled and harmonious.”


The show, in addition to being humorous and entertaining, is an opportunity to learn about the art of acting and about complex scientific theories. Created by Rossellini and written by Rossellini and Gregorio Franchetti, Darwin’s Smile will be directed by Muriel Mayette-Holtz, costume and set design by Rudy Soulier and with original music by Cyril Girouz. The Cucalorus performance continues the festival’s long-standing tradition of honoring David Lynch’s indie classic Blue Velvet through the program known as ‘The Bus to Lumberton.’ Rossellini starred as Dorothy Vallens in the production, which was filmed in Wilmington in the 1980s. According to the festival’s Chief Instigating Officer Dan Brawley, “This is a very special moment for Cucalorus. We have such deep respect for the visionary work of Ms. Rossellini. And of course, many are familiar with our fascination with David Lynch’s indie classic Blue Velvet. Bringing these things together is really a dream come true for many of us.”


The performance of Darwin’s Smile will be held at 7:30pm on Saturday, November 19, 2022 on the main stage at Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Wilmington, NC as the headlining event of this year’s 28th annual Cucalorus Film Festival. Tickets for the show are on sale now and the full festival schedule can be seen here. For updated information about the show’s Fall tour, please follow Isabella on Instagram .



Isabella has a master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation. She made award-winning series of shorts, Green Porno, Seduce Me and Mammas that offer comical and scientifically insightful studies of animal behaviors. She toured in 50 different cities with a monologue based on her shorts written with Academy Award winner Jean Claude Carriere. Recently she toured her new theatrical show, Link Link Circus that deals with animals’ behavior and cognition, as well as brought us the critically acclaimed streaming show “Sex and Consequences” early this year.  Isabella Rossellini grew up in Paris and Rome and moved to New York City when she was nineteen years old. She had a very successful modeling career appearing on numerous covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair. She also worked as an actress appearing in numerous films, directed by extraordinary talents such as Robert Zemeckis, David O. Russell, David Lynch, Robert Wilson, Taylor Hackford, Marjane Satrapi, Guy Maddin. She can currently be seen in A24’s Marcel the Shell and HBO’s Julia. Most notable of her American features include Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, White Nights, Cousins, Death Becomes Her, Fearless, Big Night and Joy. Rossellini’s interests embrace preservation of her family’s extraordinary cinematic heritage, including the films directed by her father, Roberto Rossellini and those featuring her mother, Ingrid Bergman.