Although her first name implies a certain background, she is one of Italy's hottest entertainment products. Asia is famous for her provocative and sexy appearance, and she loves to show off her belly tattoo that appears to cover her lower area. Asia Argento has been labeled on more than one occasion in her native country as "the face of the new generation." The daughter of legendary horror director Dario Argento and stage actress Daria Nicolodi, Argento was born in Rome, Italy on September 20, 1975. She broke into film at the tender age of nine and has gone on to enjoy an illustrious and acclaimed career. Although the actress' early prospects were undoubtedly aided by her father's famous name -- she has appeared in a number of his films -- she has become known as an actress in her own right, winning two David di Donatello awards (the Italian Oscar) and two Ciacks (the Italian Golden Globe), among other honors. Argento has acted for a number of non-Italian directors, most notably Patrice Chéreau in La Reine Margot (1994) and Michael Radford in B. Monkey (1998). The latter film, which starred Argento as a master thief alongside Rupert Everett and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, succeeded in giving her an initial introduction to American art house audiences. In addition to acting, Argento is also a screenwriter and director with a growing number of credits to her name. The handover to then new millennium found the now-established actress following in the footsteps of her father with the release of her directorial debut, Scarlet Diva (2000). A semi-autobiographical tale that journied into the frenzied mind of an actress fueled by excess, Scarlet Diva combined the garish visuals of her father's cinematic heyday with the sensory overload that defined cinema of the millennial crossover. With B. Monkey and Abel Ferrara's New Rose Hotel failing to gain Argento as much stateside exposure as may have been anticipated and Scarlett Diva still not having found suitable distribution in the U.S., the release of numerous articles and photo spreads in such magazines as Bizarre, Maxim and Entertainment Weekly began to generate a substantial buzz surrounding the release of what would be her biggest American film to date, XXX. As the mysterious love interest of Vin Diesel, Argento seemed poised for the elusive international success that, though she had no doubt gained a reputation as a desirable dark goddess on the glossy pages of men's magazines nationwide, had yet to cement itself in celluliod form.
Asia Argento was born on September 20, 1975 in Rome, Italy.
Meet Asia Argento
Where you’ve seen her:
Something of a child prodigy, this Italian actress had appeared in 14 movies before she was 21. Will be appearing alongside Vin Diesel in the upcoming spy thriller XXX.
“Why did I spend all these years playing boring Europeans? I was made for action movies.”
Something in her genes:
“I’m a little bit of a freak. I have no idea why I turned out this way.”
Maxim general warning: Clothing can be hazardous to your health:
“People’s attitudes about sex aren’t healthy anywhere…except maybe in those tribes where they go around naked.”
More fun stuff about Asia Argento
Birth name: Asia Aria Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento
Nickname Az Silver Gems
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Has a daughter named Anna Lou born in Lugano on June the 20th 2001 with rock and roll musician Morgan from the Italian band, 'Bluvertigo'
Marco Morgan Castoldi (2001 - present) (filed for divorce)
Officially named Aria since the registration office did not accept Asia.
Born at 8:07am-CEDT
Daughter of Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi
Granddaughter of Salvatore Argento
As of July 2001, has four tattoos: A eye on her left shoulder (acquired at age 14), two snakes entwined around a sun on her lower back, a winged angel on her lower abdomen, and the name "Anna" (after her deceased sister) over one of her ribs.
Daughter, Anna Lou, born June 20, 2001.
Younger, half-sister of actress Fiore Argento.
Niece of Claudio Argento.
Her first name is pronounced 'Aass-ee-ah'
Speaks Italian, French and English.
Her great-grandfather is Alfredo Casella, one of the most important composers of the Italian Futurism
Grand-daughter of Elda Luxardo, photographer, known as the Italian "Leni Riefenstahl".
Her daughter Anna Lou is named after her deceased sister Anna
Was the youngest female director in Italy
Made the first digital film in Italy
Her close friends are: Valeria Golino, Adrien Brody, Libero De Rienzo, Vera Gemma, Norman Reedus, JT LeRoy, Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan.
In 2002, she and Brian Molko from the UK based rock band Placebo, along with techno act Trash Palace, re-made the song "Je t'aime moi non plus". The song was originally made famous in the 1970s by French singer Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin.
Engaged to actor Michael Pitt for few months in 2004.
Was engaged to actor Vincent Gallo (1998)
Her personal quotes:
During the shooting of my directorial debut, I must never let myself go to any goliardery, even if I might think I am missing some fun, never mingle with the rest of the crew, because they are actors while I am the mirth of a rickety poem. They are solo artists, virtuosos - but I am the orchestra, the strings carpet where everybody has to lay. They are the public, while I am tonight's special event. I allow them to be instantly well-liked, but I must remain rigorous to reveal my eyes, I have to act out the things that never happen. When I think of my film, I don't take anything from the reality that I know, I suck only from the utopia/reality I would want to live. When I say my lines, the I have written for myself, I think about this, of a womb-like world where amniotic liquids protect me from injustices and the boogey man.
[In answer to the question "How do you want to be remembered?"] "As somebody who has done everything, but didn't know how to do anything."
"I want to be adopted by the french. I want to go to live in Paris. I want to live in a country where a guy like "Gaspar Noé" can direct his films without going to jail. I don't want to live in Italy, the country of the apes, and end up being an actress with an onion placed where I once had a heart, that instead of beating, it stinks."
"I care only about that. Almost only about cinema"
"Sometimes I think my father gave me life because he needed a lead actress for his films."
"I have nothing in my life besides my work. I am obsessed with it. I leave my house only when I'm forced to. All my life, I have felt that what I did was wrong. But now when I work I feel good about it."
Where are they now
In February 2004 lives in Los Angeles, California, USA
An interview with Asia Argento
Aria Asia Maria Victoriaroso 'Red Victory' Argento's legs are damn near as long as her unexpurgated name. The name is partly due to a fascist law that is still in effect in Italy, decreeing that no person shall be named after a foreign country or continent. The legs curve and sway all the way up to a gorgeous winged angel that Asia (pronounced: ah-ze-a), as she prefers to be known, has tattooed on her pelvis.
With a lineage that includes one of Italy's most infamous and cult-worthy horror film directors, Dario Argento, Asia's legs, along with the rest of her, are likely to be going places in the next few years that you and I can only gaze upon in the pages of glossy magazines and generally be glad we're not a part of, but that looks like one long, hip party after another. Destination: Hollywood.
Most recently seen as Vin Diesel's arse-kicking colleague Yelena in XXX, Asia's directorial debut premiered in Australia to a turned-on-in-a-slightly-disturbing-way audience at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival last July. While being turned on in a disturbing way is a pretty standard audience reaction at MUFF, Scarlet Diva managed to impress the unimpressionable.
The film is pitched as a semi-biopic, following Asia in the lead role as Anna Battista, on a drug and fuck-filled trip as she tries, first to get an idea for a film, then to get her film into the Hollywood system.
The trash-centric exposé sees her scoring hash in a Parisian ghetto before scoring the African dealer, taking special K with some not very special English tourists, and being forced to have sex with a slimy movie producer played, incidentally, by grotesque artist extraordinaire Joe Coleman.
"I was always a huge fan of Colman's," says Asia. "He only paints himself, or even when he's painting, like Ferdinand Céline, he's always putting the characters facing you, and he's telling their stories. That was a big lesson for me."
Her voice is deep with a sultry southern Italian lilt and the familiar (to me) creaks and groans of a heavy smoker who's fresh out of bed. It's about ten am where she is (UK) and some time between seven and heaven, pm, for me. She continues.
"We're actually portraying ourselves as monsters, you know? It's not like I'm saying I'm the best person in the world, but I'm using this vehicle of making movies to tell a story, my story, actually manipulating a real story by making it grotesque, to exorcise it.
"There's so much I want to understand, and I don't do analysis. I don't have a psychologist. I don't have the practical chores, either. You know, my life is totally impossible and by making a movie about it maybe I can forgive myself."
What's to forgive? Scarlet Diva has been described as hedonistic, existentialist and without morality. So far, so good. But Asia won't hear of it.
"Well, when people criticize the fact that this movie is self-obsessed, or hedonistic or whatever you want to call it, what they're criticizing is actually the strength of my movie, and by doing that they're only throwing fuel in my fire. They're only making it stronger. Because what else is there to talk about but oneself? What else do we know but ourselves? By talking about myself I'm trying to understand who I am. And people might hate that because they don't have the balls to do that, but everybody would like to do that. I think that everybody does it anyway, every day. I mean even if they're talking about the UFO's they're talking about themselves."
I've no idea how we got on to such a tangent but by this stage of the interview I couldn't care less. If I was not already a happily bethrottled man (actually only half-man, half-dishcloth) I fancy I would book myself a one-way ticket on the next available Air Italia jumbo on the off chance I might hook up with and vainly attempt to impress this sex-soaked bundle of beauty, brains, balls and creativity. Alas, the competition would be fierce.
"I have a two-year-old and she's here with me. Anna Lou."
Can I ask who the father is? I gulp. Are you still in a relationship with him?
"He's a musician, an Italian guy. Ahh, you know, yeah definitely, even though it's kind of difficult to get it -- I live all over the world and the child is with me, but I just come from Italy where we spent two weeks."
In fact Asia's family life would make terrific Jerry Springer material. Her mother, Daria, did not want her daughter to get into the film business despite being an actress herself and featuring in many of her husband Dario's creep fests. Asia made a decision at nine years of age to go against her mother's wishes after much prompting from director Sergio Citi, who was Passolini's assistant for many years, a "brilliant director" in his own right, and also a good friend of Daria's. Asia took a part in the mini-series Sogni e bisagni (1985), where her first line ever on screen was based on one of her own childhood games, and went something like "I'm not a boy, I'm a girl".
By age 13 she had appeared in almost fifteen movies and was a celebrated actress with two 'David Di Donatello' awards (the Italian Oscar) and two 'Ciack' awards (the Italian Golden Globe) under her pillow.
"Then I stopped acting, from the age of 13 to the age of 16," she says. "That was the biggest break I've ever taken from movies. It was those awkward years, you know, when in Italy there's a saying, you're neither meat nor fish. [laughs] I had to find my own identity, which I did by completely going crazy at the time."
Since then most of Daria's reservations about her daughter's involvement in the business must have either been experienced or worked through. Daria appears in Scarlet Diva, playing Anna's mother.
"I remember I used to watch this program on Italian TV that was called a psychodrama," Asia explains, "about this group of people and they would choose actors to play the characters of their life, one to play themselves and one to play the mother and father or whatever, and they would act it out. And that was something that always stuck on me. So I guess with this movie I did that, only I took my own mother to play my mother in the movie.
"Here I jump from one thing to the next but I was thinking about with this movie, like, maybe I should cast real people. But at the same time when you take real people to act these days they're so corrupted by this reality TV, and they act even more. They're the worst actors and actresses, real people."
That must be why Hollywood digs the plastic ones so much. Doing XXX has successfully raised Asia's profile in the US, though not in the way she dreamed of.
"I was offered a bunch of action movies that I didn't do. Maybe that was a mistake, I don't know. As a matter of fact I'd rather do action movies that some bad, pseudo intellectual Italian movies, that's for sure.
"I did a movie with Dennis Hopper. I always liked Dennis Hopper so that's why I did it. But I was not so thrilled about the movie itself.
"My goal, or what makes me happy in life is directing, and that's something I found out in doing or actually before doing Scarlet Diva. I used XXX to be known in America so that I could direct in America, which is what I've been preparing. I've been writing this [new] movie for a year almost, and now it's in pre-production.
"It's called The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things and it's taken from a novel written by JT Leroy, this young American writer. It's his autobiographical story. I've adapted the screenplay and I'm playing the main female role. It's a story of a mother and a child. The child goes from since he was four years old until he's eleven. And it's her descent into Hell, with drugs and prostitution. It's like an autopsy of America, and people.
"I can identify, I think. I'm a single mother in the sense that I'm the one supporting my child and I live alone with her and it's kind of difficult in Italy, in America, all over the world. So I can identify even though I'm lucky because I was blessed with, you know, the belief, faith and creativity. Well, people who don't have that or don't have a reason to believe in themselves can quickly lose themselves."
Asia Argento Talks xXx
The European actress discusses American action films and her co-star, Vin Diesel.
August 07, 2002 - Asia Argento, best known for appearing in European films like B. Monkey, Trauma (directed by her father, Dario Argento) and the French mini-series version of Les Miserables (where she played the character of Eponine opposite Gerard Depardieu), has always had a secret wish: to star in a big, American action film.
"I love action movies," the 27-year-old actress revealed during the recent press tour for her latest film, xXx. "I really love these big American movies. I love to watch them. I find them much more fun than some "artsy" movies, so I always wanted to do one. I thought it would be a real challenge to do one."
Selected by director Rob Cohen from over 500 hopefuls, Argento realized early on just how fortunate she really was. "I had just had my baby [Anna Lou, born in June, 2001]. I keep in pretty good shape so it didn't take too long to get back into shape but I was worried about that. They tested 500 girls for [the part of] Yelena. It came down to three of us." Cohen and star Vin Diesel had made a decision early on to use as many European actors as possible to give the film a different kind of look, something else that played in Argento's favor. "Rob [Cohen] talked with me about the character, what he thought she should be like, before the final audition so I felt I had a little edge on the other girls going in."
Another advantage was Asia's own body art. While Diesel's tattoos, including the trademark "xXx" on the back of his neck, had to be added by the makeup department, everything you see on Argento's body came with the actress. "Yeah," the actress laughs, "they're all mine."
Once signed on to the project, the real work began. The first thing was making the character of Yelena, a pivotal role in the film, believable. "This character, she's a mystery until the end. We don't really know who she is, where she comes from, why she's with Anarchy 99. For me it's really challenging because she's not one thing. You think she's something then she changes, which is always challenging for a role."
Argento is quick to point out that more than tattoos separate Yelena from the usual spy movie femme fatale seen in the Bond films. "She's definitely not just bad and not just good. She's both. That makes her different and challenging to play."
Argento also credits the film's star, Vin Diesel, for helping her bring Yelena to life on the screen. "He has really surprised me in this movie. I didn't expect it. He's a very down to earth person, very giving. I have never worked with an actor who is so not self-centered and so ready to help you. He sees things. I think that capacity comes from his directing and writing. He's helped me a lot. He saw things that could have worked better and instead of thinking about his ego, he knows that if you work together with a person then he knows that the result is better for everybody."
Now that the film is in the can and ready to premiere, does she regret having made the plunge into action films? Argento just smiles. "This is the most fun I have had in 18 years. I am signed for the sequel. In my contract, it is for two films. I hope they use the option."
With her first big American film behind her, Argento returns to France where her next film will be La Sir?ne Rouge. With a little luck at the box office, we may just start to see more of Argento's talents on this side of the Atlantic.
Asia Argento Signed For xXx 2
Actress talks potential sequel during weekend press tour...
With the opening of Vin Diesel's extreme spy flick, xXx, only days away, there's been more discussion about the film's recently announced sequel. According to a story posted on the Ain't It Cool News web site, Asia Argento won't be in the sequel, tentatively titled xXx 2.
If that's true, somebody better tell Argento – in an interview this past weekend promoting the film (one that you will be able to read on IGN FilmForce later this week) the actress matter-of-factly remarked, "I'm signed for the sequel." Argento went on to state that she hopes "they use the option" in her contract, which means that things are still up in the air. A lot can and will be determined by the first film's performance at the box office this weekend.
Contracts that involve multiple films are becoming commonplace in Hollywood. In this era of franchise filmmaking, it's always better to have your stars locked down in case the film becomes a blockbuster to avoid potential contract negotiations that would make a sure thing into a $200 million dollar studio write-off. xXx star Vin Diesel made a reported $2.5 million to star in this film – if it performs as expected, his price will undoubtedly rise for the sequel, making it even more vital to keep costs down with the supporting cast.
Asia Cooks Up A Treat For Vin
Italian actress Asia Argento showed off her legendary cooking skills on the set of action movie XXX and became Vin Diesel's official cook. The sexy Italian actress, who plays the screen hunk's love interest in the new film, cooked up bolognese for the Fast & The Furious actor - and he fell in love with the tasty treat. She says, "All Italians are great cooks and I love cooking. I cooked up my bolognese for Vin and he loved it. I don't know how he kept in shape. He ate a lot of that."
Asia Argento speaks to Arrow Head
The Arrow has had an arrow in his heart for Asia Argento since he saw her in "Trauma". Not knowing much about her orArrow in the Head her career, his heart was forever pierced and has never fully recovered. Today I can say I feel better and the wound has healed, only because Asia agreed to have a little QNA with yours truly.
Born on September 20, 1975, Asia was destined to be in the movie business. Her mom is an actress and her dad is director grandiose "Dario Argento". She has over 15 movies to her credit and has acted in French (La Reine Margot), in Italian (Phantom Of The Opera, Stendhal Syndrome) and more recently in English (New Rose Hotel and B Monkey). She has won two "David Di Donatello" (Italian Oscar), two "Clack" (Italian Golden Globe) and one "Grolla Doro" (have no idea what that is…but it's good). Only now are Americans starting to take notice of this sensual, dangerous, exciting actress…and The Arrow thinks it's about damn time. Let's dive in…
1- What's your favorite horror flick, sweety?
Freaks. Texas Chainsaw Massacre..
2- Of all your films which one is closer to your heart?
I like New Rose Hotel by Ferrara because it's the last one that came out.
3- What does Asia do when she's not working?
I don't think there is much difference between life and work. Is that why I'm unable to live? I don't do much when I'm not working. I'm at my best when I can be creative. I like to write. I go to some tiny concerts (last one, yesterday). I buy CDs. I walk with my dog. I read tonz of books. Watch silent films.
4- Are you into other art forms apart from acting?Asia in The Stendhal Syndrome
Like I just said I write. I just published a book and I've written my first film as a "directress" (which I finished acting, directing, editing and mixing- in other words it's ready). I write every month for a magazine. That pays the rent. Sometimes I play live with a band (I talk/sing) called RYLZ. I paint.
5- What genre would your film fit in...horror perhaps?
See A's above. It's not horror, it's not drama , comedy or Porno... It's almost like a DOGMA95 film but with no rules. I find hard to relegate a film into a sobriquet. I leave that to the critics. My film is real. It gives you the impression some scenes might have really happened. And they DID. I stole so much out of my actors and myself. The film is called SCARLET DIVA, and I like to call it Pragma2000 (AS IN PRAGMATIC).
6- What's your favorite Dario Argento flick, honey bunny?
Inferno and Suspiria.
7- Any new projects in the works?
I've just finished a couple of films in France, one is a French-American production, "Les Miserables".
The other one is called "Les Morsures de L'Aube" and I play a vampiresse!
8- What kind of preparations do you do before tackling a specific role?
I believe research is a whole lotta bullshit (even though I always unconsciously research a character). Either you already have the character in you or you're not gonna find it at the supermarket. It's not like something that's gonna magically appear! I believe we all have EVERYTHING we need in us. In a tiny little spot, hidden somewhere we have the whole world. Like in that Borges short story: The Aleph.
9- How is it being directed by that Dario fella?
Well, he's my father! I feel much more comfortable with him. Sometimes it's almost scary. It's a very deep experience.
10- What's the worst horror flick you've ever seen?
I think that there is something to be saved in every film. Even in the stupidest ones. There's a face, a prop, a shot, an idea that makes the worst film a masterpiece for me. My own private masterpiece!
Asia Argento: Dangerous Beauty
Receiving its North American premiere in Toronto was Italian actress Asia Argento’s directing debut, Scarlet Diva. Mixing humor and self- laceration, Tortoise and Nina Simone, Argento uses the tools of digital video to create a thoughtful aesthetic distance from her own semi- autobiographical lead character.
One could be forgiven for approaching Scarlet Diva with a healthy degree of skepticism. The writing-directing feature debut of 25-year-old Italian actress Asia Argento, the film is co-produced by her father, renowned horror filmmaker Dario Argento, and is a largely autobiographical chronicle of young actress Anna Battista and her odyssey through a haze of sex and drugs as she seeks to liberate herself from her self-proclaimed title of "the loneliest girl in the world."
But those who assumed Scarlet Diva would be a vanity project subsidized by a prosperous parent should be prepared for a shock: the younger Argento’s film is actually a remarkably confident and vibrant work, a colorful and stylish primal-scream ride through life’s excesses that plays like a trip-hop cover of Chantal Akerman’s Les Rendez-vous d’Anna. If Argento’s film is guilty of crimes of self-indulgence (as some critics have averred), then these transgressions are rooted in boundless enthusiasm for the possibilities of cinema – it’s no accident that she cites Alejandro Jodorowsky as an influence – and not empty narcissism. And there’s another element to the film that perhaps nobody anticipated: Scarlet Diva is often riotously funny.
Argento’s film follows Anna as she careens through Rome, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Los Angeles, her life an increasingly chaotic tribulation of failed relationships and the hazards of celebrity: a formerly talented writer friend has now become a bitter heroin addict, and a meeting with a Hollywood producer (artist Joe Coleman) becomes the ultimate casting-couch nightmare. Events seem to change when Anna becomes pregnant by an Australian rock star, but this "impossible love" doesn’t materialize, sending her deeper into loneliness. As the material moves into progressively darker territory, Argento shifts the tone of Scarlet Diva into a hallucinatory overdrive that mirrors the drug-addled Anna’s fever-dream state of mind, but she never jettisons the black comedy that ensures that Anna’s predicaments, however outlandish, remain recognizably human. Argento’s adroit juggling of these multiple stylistic approaches marks her as a filmmaker with a great degree of promise.
Argento has directed before – two short films, and documentaries on her father and Abel Ferrara – but she has become known in recent years as one of Europe’s most popular young actresses, particularly in her native Italy, through the success of such films as Peter Del Monte’s Compagna di Viaggio and Giovanni Veronesi’s Viola Bacia Tutti. Her Italian work however, has been little seen outside of that country, except for the trilogy of films in which she was directed by her father: the American-lensed Trauma, the vastly underrated The Stendhal Syndrome, and the misguided Phantom of the Opera. Although she has appeared in two English-language films – Michael Radford’s long-delayed Miramax-botched B. Monkey and Ferrara’s flawed but fascinating New Rose Hotel – Argento has become most known outside Italy as a Euro "It"-girl and icon of sexual desire, her undraped tattoo-covered form appearing in various men’s magazines which cite her as one of "The 50 Sexiest Women Alive." Argento’s physical appearance may be striking, but after talking with her for only a few minutes it immediately becomes the least compelling thing about her; one is soon impressed by her intelligence, razor-sharp wit, and passion for cinema. We spoke at the Toronto International Film Festival:
Filmmaker: Since so much has been made of Scarlet Diva’s autobiographical angle, why don’t you tell me what isn’t autobiographical about the film, and how are you different from Anna?
Asia Argento: Everything in the film is autobiographical, but then again everything is not. I think that every film is autobiographical in that you have a very personal reason to tell the story. Even if I were to write a story of Martians coming to Earth, it would have to be autobiographical. But the fact that there isn’t a father figure is a difference. I wanted to save my father, since here I am only talking about the worst things that have happened in my life.
Filmmaker: But you asked your own mother (Daria Nicolodi) to play your horrible mother in the movie!
Argento: I know. But it was an interesting psychodrama for us. I asked her to play my agent in the film, but she wanted to play that part [instead], which was fantastic of her. But I’ve mixed everything, too: the character of the writer is many writers I’ve met; the producer is many producers I’ve met even though that one does remind me of someone particularly.
Filmmaker: And an experience that was similarly horrible?
Argento: Oh, yeah, yeah. It was so horrible it was funny, really.
Filmmaker: So are you really the loneliest girl in the world?
Argento: Not anymore, actually, but I used to be. I was sick for a while; I was agoraphobic. I was afraid to go out of my apartment for a long time, I could only go out to work. But I was not lonely. I was alone. It was my choice – well, I had no other choice. But now I have a love for the first time in my life, and that makes me feel a little less lonely, even though there are some things I know I could never share with anybody.
Filmmaker: Did you ever have a Kirk in your real life, an "impossible love"?
Argento: Sure. And I did this film to be loved by this person, who never read the script, who has never seen this film. And we’re not together anymore – as soon as the film was over, the need for that impossible love was over. When you’re alone and you fantasize about love, it’s the purest form of love. The person needs to be either dead or unattainable, because the other person’s love is going to ruin your love. But now I believe differently, so maybe this film has cured me, or saved me somehow.
Filmmaker: In the past few years, you’ve become one of Europe’s foremost young actresses. What precipitated the move to directing?
Argento: I never acted out of ambition; I acted to gain my father’s attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It’s like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.
Filmmaker: I don’t know, there still has to be a certain nobility to the profession.
Argento: No, no, no. That’s the lie that actors tell to non-actors to elevate a job that’s very easy to do. Yes, of course there’s a nobility in the way that children are noble and sensitive and need guidance. But actors are not noble. On the contrary, like Brando said, acting – not prostitution – is the oldest profession in the world. But if I had any ambition, it was over when I worked with Abel Ferrara – he was always one of my favorite directors, so after that, I had nothing to desire anymore. So I decided to go back to what enchanted me as a little girl, which was writing.
Filmmaker: So do you only want to direct now, or will you still act in other people’s films?
Argento: I’ve gone back to it because I need to pay the rent [laughs]. And it’s a challenge. I just did this French vampire film by Antoine du Caunes, Les Morsures de L’Aube, and I don’t speak French, so I had to learn the language. But I think I’m a better actress now that I don’t have personal ambition, because I work for the film and not to build my own career. I work for the director, like a cab driver just driving his cab, a professional, a mercenary. When you’re directing, it’s years of your life, for one thing, and I think that is noble.
Filmmaker: When are you going to direct again?
Argento: In a month I am going to start directing a porno film.
Filmmaker: You’re directing it but not acting in it, correct?
Argento: Yes. I’ve seen a lot of porno films, but they are never very interesting. So what I want to try to do is have a strong story, just with real sex. I think it’s a rebellious act – not political, but rebellious against the kind of cinema that is done in Italy, which has been so useless for at least 20 years. I think my father and Sergio Leone tried to fight through genre filmmaking, one with horror, the other with westerns, and I think the only genre left for me is porno.
Filmmaker: Unlike the works of most young first-time filmmakers, Scarlet Diva seems more influenced by the rhythms of real life than by other films. Having said that, were there films that shaped your approach to the film?
Argento: Actually, another vow of chastity I took before this film was to watch only silent films for one year. I watched every one I could get my hands on. Pabst, Dziga Vertov, Dreyer, the original color-tinted version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – it’s so beautiful it makes you want to cry. Abel Gance’s Napoléon is my favorite film of all time. Apart from these silent films I watched to purify myself, I was looking at a lot of photography. That’s what inspired me the most.
Filmmaker: Some of the imagery in the film reminded me of Nan Goldin’s work.
Argento: Yes, definitely! She’s one of the people I really admire, along with Diane Arbus and Richard Kern. But I wasn’t really thinking of that. Even though I had very clear storyboards, I allowed myself to destroy them on set, and everybody could come up with something if they felt it. This was a freedom that I never had when I worked as an actress with other directors – to bring out the truth from my characters and the location was the only goal I really had in acting.
Filmmaker: Did you take anything from your father?
Argento: I wish I could have his talent with the camera. Horror is much more precise, it’s like mathematics. When he shoots, nothing is left to the atmosphere of the set. He knows exactly what he wants and he’s going to get it. You are just there as an instrument. I love his use of color, and I think you can see that inspiration in my work.
Filmmaker: Scarlet Diva deals heavily with issues of female disappointment towards men. Let me ask you simply, what do women want from men?
Argento: Well, just deal with that genetically. We have a hole that needs to be filled.