The joy of puppies

Isabella Rossellini on her latest role and her Guide Dog Foundation.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Isabella Rossellini, at the Twentieth Century Fox Joy celebration lunch, remembers Nando
Isabella Rossellini, at the Twentieth Century Fox Joy celebration lunch, remembers Nando Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

When I moderated a post screening discussion with Pia Lindström and Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (Jag Är Ingrid) director Stig Björkman at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, the memory of a distinctive Rossellini family dachshund puppy made everyone laugh. At this week's lunch at La Grenouille, honoring David O. Russell's Joy with Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Elisabeth Röhm, Dascha Polanco, Diane Ladd and Virginia Madsen from the cast (and with Bob Balaban and Celia Weston attending), Isabella Rossellini gave me the name of the infamous little darling. She also spoke about her work with the Guide Dog Foundation For The Blind and her role in Joy as advisor to Jennifer Lawrence's character Joy Mangano, the creator of the Miracle Mop.

 Trudy and Rudy with Joy
Trudy and Rudy with Joy

Joy's father Rudy (De Niro) met someone new through a service that connects widows with [in his case false] widowers. Rossellini's Trudy knows how to take control, even when she has no clue what she is doing. While Terry (Virginia Madsen), Joy's mother and Rudy's ex-wife, is concerned with watching someone "kidnapped by a monk from Switzerland who was a count," real life with all its messy plumbing problems turns out to be a saving grace.

Anne-Katrin Titze: At the post screening discussion with Pia and Stig, we were talking about the many dogs shown running around in your mother's home movies. What was the dachshund's name? The one who chewed on the curtains?

Isabella Rossellini (laughing): Nando, N-A-N-D-O.

AKT: Was he your favourite?

IR: Well, my Mama gave me a dog when I was very little and I had my appendix removed. I was little, you know. I was four or five. So Nando came to my life when I was eight or nine and he really was the first dog that I took care of - I fed, I washed, I took him for walks. And then he lived to be 19.

AKT: Just to be sure, he is the one who is black with the brown snout and paws? I had the same kind of dog when I was eight, her name was Babsi.

Isabella Rossellini's mother Ingrid Bergman:
Isabella Rossellini's mother Ingrid Bergman: "Well, my Mama gave me a dog when I was very little …"

IR: Oh, really? Yes, it's the one you see when I'm sick on the stretcher. Yes, that was Nando. And Nando and his puppy - he had a baby.

AKT: You are breeding dogs now?

IR: No, I have the Guide Dog Foundation which is a foundation that breeds dogs for the blind. They send me their dogs, they have the puppies at my house, and send them all back. It's called whelping.

AKT: Great performance in Joy. I loved the four rules of business. [Trudy tests Joy with some wild questions, invented by Trudy's dead husband]. What did you think of those when you heard them?

IR: Of course, Trudy doesn't know anything about business! All her rules are totally absurd. But she says them with enormous authority.

AKT: That's the way to do it. It's a perfect scene.

Joy opens in the US on December 25 and in the UK on January 1, 2016.

Coming up, Robert De Niro, David O. Russell, the inventor, and Bradley Cooper with his mum.

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