Inside Isabella Rossellini's Most Significant Relationships

Isabella Rossellini's parents had a fascinating relationship story, and the star continued their legacy by offering some relationship surprises of her own before ultimately finding comfort in a life of singlehood. She's the daughter of Oscar-winning actor Ingrid Bergman and Italian director/writer Roberto Rossellini, infamous for creating shockwaves when Bergman became pregnant with Rossellini's baby while married to another man in 1950.

Isabella followed her parents' footsteps into show business, first focusing on modeling and then acting before giving up Hollywood to work on her farm and earn a master's degree in animal behavior. The "Blue Velvet" had an unconventional childhood, leading to an unconventional career and also an unconventional take on romance. "I think that as you grow older, you fall in love less frequently. I have children and a family. I feel less the need for a companion, a boyfriend," she expressed to the Los Angeles Times in 2004.

Isabella was married twice, engaged once, and cohabited with a famous director for a handful of years. In fact, all of her serious exes have links to the entertainment world in some way and three of the four have Academy Awards (one honorary, but it still counts). Her relationship history is also littered with overlap — either on her part, the part of her partner, or both — and a pregnancy that threatened the long-term modeling contract that made her the highest paid model in the world in 1982. Here's a look inside Isabella Rossellini's most significant relationships.

She was working as a journalist when she met Martin Scorsese

While it's true that Isabella Rossellini landed in show business — like many other nepo babies before and after her — modeling nor acting was her original goal. Rossellini began her career as a journalist after coming to America to improve her English. It was there that she met Gianni Minà, an Italian journalist who needed an assistant for his American segments.

"I worked for him for three years. I covered all the Muhammad Ali fights. It was the best job you could do. I learned problem-solving, research," Rossellini explained in a Vulture article. "I would also do skits with a comedian named Renzo Arbore, who was then offered his own show. So I went to work with him, doing little funny stories from America."

It was during her gig with Arbore that Rossellini met her eventual husband, Martin Scorsese. She was tasked with interviewing him about his film, "The Last Waltz," a music documentary which she had yet to see. "I went to the interview and told him the truth: 'There was a mess-up and I'm gonna see the film tomorrow, but I have the interview today,'" Rossellini recalled to the publication. "And he said, 'Oh, you want to see it tonight?' So we did the interview and then went to a screening." One screening turned into multiple, and the pair quickly became romantic. They married in 1979 — the first marriage for Rossellini and the third marriage for Scorsese.

She has compared Martin Scorsese to her famous father

Isabella Rossellini has confessed multiple times to being attracted to men like her father — innovative creatives with a strong sense of humor and an unconventional streak. Perhaps this is why she told the Daily Mail her "most significant" relationships were the two she had with film directors Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, who both put their love of film above their family life, much like her father and mother did.

Scorsese, in particular, seems to have reminded Rossellini of her filmmaker father. "My dad made such serious films, but he was so funny," she told The Guardian. "And so is Marty [Scorsese]. Marty makes all these films about people shooting and brains exploding, but you sit with him and he makes you laugh so much."

Rossellini thinks that many of her former partners have found her lineage alluring, but Scorsese in particular gravitated toward her because of who she was and where she came from. "When I married Martin Scorsese, I was 27 and I didn't think there was that much that was interesting about me,” she told the Irish Independent. "But he was fascinated by my father. We used to visit Italy together. He was thirsty for understanding of the place and of Italian-American culture. His films are all about that." In fact, after the pair divorced in 1982, Scorsese explicitly told Rossellini that it had been important for him "to think that he was in a relationship with Roberto Rossellini's daughter."

Her marriage to Martin Scorsese only lasted four years

Though they were in love, Isabella Rossellini and Martin Scorsese had challenges that led to the dissolution of their marriage rather quickly. Neither are particularly good at marriage — as evidenced by their collective track record of six divorces and many failed romances — and the nine-year age difference could not have been easy.

Rossellini was only 25 when she met Scorsese (they married when she was 27), and she had not yet settled on a long-term career path. Her plan at the time was to mostly just exist as the wife of a famous director. "The mentality was you married an interesting man, because an interesting man would provide you with an interesting life," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2004. "Marty, for sure, is the perfect husband for that. He's an absolute genius. Fantastic mind. Great sense of humor, great sense of adventure. You could live just as Marty's wife and have a fantastic life."

Neither partner anticipated the opportunities that would come Rossellini's way after her high-profile marriage increased her notoriety. She started her modeling career while married to Scorsese, but her new husband was less-than-pleased that modeling took her away from him. In an interview with the Irish Independent, Rossellini said that Scorsese wanted her "chained to the kitchen stove" rather than out in the world pursuing a career. Scorsese was even annoyed when she landed the cover of Vogue — something she went on to do more than two dozen times in the following years.

She got pregnant with another man's baby during her first marriage

Before their divorce, Isabella Rossellini and Martin Scorsese were leading separate lives. Both sides had affairs, and one led to the birth of a child. In an eerie repetition of history, Rossellini became pregnant with another man's baby while still wedded to Scorsese, somewhat mimicking her parents' trajectory from decades prior. The situations were, of course, met with differing amounts of criticism. Ingrid Bergman was chastised on the floor of the U.S. Congress and all but chased out of the industry for a brief period. Rossellini met no such fate, but it was still a complex situation due to the morality clause in her Lancôme contract, despite the fact that she and Scorsese were technically separated at the time of the baby's conception.

Rossellini's pregnancy was the result of an affair with Jonathan Wiedemann, who she met while on a modeling assignment for Lancôme. Wiedemann was modeling to put himself through film school at New York University, after graduating Harvard, and eventually went on to become a Microsoft executive. In an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Rossellini recalled being drawn to Wiedemann's adventurous nature and comforting vibes.

"Jon seemed very calm, serene, balanced, healthy and fun," she remembered. "I was drawn to him because he took fun vacations — river-rafting and mountain climbing — all those fascinating things I'd never done before." The couple's daughter, Elettra, is Rossellini's first child and only daughter. She later adopted a son, Roberto, who works as a model and photographer.

She married Jonathan Wiedemann the same day she divorced Martin Scorsese

Isabella Rossellini was able to both divorce Martin Scorsese and marry Jonathan Wiedemann all in the same day. In fact, it took only a half an hour to get everything finished, on a quick jaunt to Santo Domingo. The marriage was not important for Rossellini herself, but Wiedemann's family wanted it, and Lancôme could have canceled their partnership if she did not walk down the aisle.

"To me, marriage didn't mean a relationship, it meant a document, like your passport or a visa. When people were scandalized that I [was pregnant but] wasn't married to Jonathan, I said, 'So what?' It was the moralistic Catholics of Italy who made me disrespect marriage, not my family," she explained to the Los Angeles Times.

The couple stayed together for less than a year after their 1983 wedding, although they did not technically divorce until 1986. For Rossellini, this was simply confirmation that marriage was not her jam. "It's quite common among Europeans not to get married and to live together," she said in a different Los Angeles Times piece. "In America people generally get married and divorced, stay together and split up, stay together and split up. I never thought I was going to get married. In fact, I only got married to Americans. Because they asked. Two weeks into dating them."

She denied that Mikhail Baryshnikov broke up her second marriage

People were quick to jump to conclusions when the end of Isabella Rossellini's second marriage came not long after her 1985 film with Mikhail Baryshnikov, "White Nights," hit theaters. In 1985, the South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote that Rossellini's "current love interest is rumored to be her co-star in White Nights, the charismatic Baryshnikov," and the Washington Post in 1989 referred to her "reported love affair with Mikhail Baryshnikov on the set of 'White Nights.'"

Rossellini denied the rumors at the time — although that has not stopped newspapers like The Guardian from reporting the romance as fact (in 2006). "I feel embarrassed saying I'm not having an affair, because it sounds like it's not true," she told the Sentinel. "I wish I had a joke or something ... but we are just good friends."

Though it may be unclear if they were an item or just friends, Rossellini clearly fell for Baryshnikov in some way. "If you ask me whether Misha broke up my marriage, the answer is no, that didn't happen. People said I was in love with Misha from the first time I saw him. I can understand why they would say that," she explained in the Sentinel interview. "Just look at him. He's not only charming and beautiful, he's intelligent, brilliant." In a 2019 conversation with Baryshnikov's daughter Anna, published in InStyle, Rossellini referenced having known the girl all her 30-some years, while Anna said she remembered many pictures of Rossellini around the house.

She fell in love with David Lynch while filming Blue Velvet

Abused lounge singer Dorothy Vallens in "Blue Velvet" is one of Isabella Rossellini's signature roles — up there with only her Lisle von Rhuman from "Death Becomes Her" — and because of that, she will be forever linked with its director, David Lynch. The pair are also linked due to their passionate five-year romantic relationship, as well their subsequent collaboration "Wild at Heart." But "Blue Velvet" is where it all started, after Lynch ditched his dream of having Helen Mirren play Vallens and wooed Rossellini. Then, despite Lynch being married at the time, he and Rossellini entered an affair while shooting the film.

They quickly fell in love on set, which prompted the end of Lynch's marriage to Mary Fisk. "My heart was truly broken, and I was walking around like a lost person with blood dripping from every pore," Fisk said in Lynch's book, "Room to Dream," for which co-author Kristine McKenna did interviews with key people in Lynch's life. The exact years of their relationship are muddy — some publications have said 1986 to 1990 and some reported 1987 to 1991 — but consensus is that it was at least five years and that the couple lived together.

She was devastated when David Lynch left her after five years

Isabella Rossellini was not expecting David Lynch to leave her when he did, and she has recalled her utter misery at the end of their five-year relationship. "I was totally brokenhearted. I surprised even myself at how depressed I came," she wrote in her 1997 book, "Some of Me." She also reflected upon a fascinating tidbit that says much about her relationship with both Lynch and first husband Martin Scorsese.

Looking for some sliver of comfort, she called Scorsese because she knew he would be delighted by the split. Instead, he told Rossellini he knew it weeks earlier because Lynch kissed her on the lips in front of paparazzi. "If David chose to display his love to you in front of the press after the five years you were together, he obviously had something to hide," he supposedly said.

It could not have helped matters that Lynch left Rossellini in the same way that he their relationship started — by cheating. While the pair were together, he began an affair with his editor, Mary Sweeney, who he swiftly had a baby with and then married. "David has this incredible sweetness, but shortly after that he completely cut me out of his life," Rossellini said in Lynch's co-authored book, "Room to Dream." Given that Rossellini took part in Lynch's honorary Oscar awarding — and that she celebrated his birthday on Instagram in 2021 — they have clearly re-established contact.

She was talking marriage with Gary Oldman weeks after meeting

Isabella Rossellini rarely discusses her relationships, and there are a few that have never even been officially confirmed by the model/actor herself. She has had less of a choice with her most famous exes but remains far quieter about some rather than others. Whereas Rossellini does not seem to mind talking Scorsese or Lynch, it is rare to find an interview where she gets into any real depth about her relationship with actor Gary Oldman. Nonetheless, it is known that this relationship was rather serious — even if Rossellini herself once referred to it to the Irish Independent by saying, "My involvement with Gary was short."

Rossellini came into contact with Oldman the way she met many of her other former partners — through work. The actors were both cast in the 1994 film, "Immortal Beloved," a largely forgotten biopic about Ludwig van Beethoven, and fell in love during filming. Within only weeks of dating, the pair was talking marriage. Though they did get engaged in 1993 — and lived together, briefly – Rossellini and Oldman's plans for marriage were derailed by Oldman's addiction issues. They ended things in 1996, and Oldman has since married numerous times.

Gary Oldman's addiction took a toll on their relationship

When she downplayed her relationship with Gary Oldman, Isabella Rossellini also noted the reason that the partnership was so "short." "He was struggling with alcohol. I got him in his best year," she recalled in her Irish Independent interview. From what is publicly known, it appears that Rossellini was telling the truth. Oldman's addiction struggles have been widely documented, and it was around the time the pair were together that he got sober. Prior to meeting Rossellini, the actor was already going on four-day-long benders and racking up hotel bills equivalent to the average person's yearly mortgage payments. 

When the drinking got even worse during their relationship, Rossellini got stern with her expected hubby. According to The Mirror, Rossellini gave Oldman an ultimatum sometime during their engagement, after he went on a 70-day (yup, you read that correctly) bender that reportedly turned his tongue black. She demanded he go to rehab if he wanted to marry her, and he complied. The marriage never materialized, but Oldman did get sober (he also met his next wife, Donya, while attending AA meetings). 

Though she does not fondly reminisce about Oldman, older interviews illuminate what Rossellini initially found appealing. "The first time I met him, he was the opposite of what I expected because he always plays dark characters. But he was charming and fun and funny — and he made me a cup of tea," she told Entertainment Weekly in 1995.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She has remained on good terms with most of her exes

While she may not love speaking about former fiancé Gary Oldman, Isabella Rossellini has remained on good terms with the vast majority of her exes. She has had only pleasant things to say about second husband Jonathan Wiedemann, who went on to live in Washington state and work as a design director at Microsoft.

She has had similarly positive things to say about good friend and maybe lover Mikhail Baryshnikov but reserves most of her public gushing for Martin Scorsese and David Lynch — and this is not just a reference to the 2019 Governors Awards, where Rossellini exuberantly awarded Lynch with an honorary Oscar. "They are exceptional people. Highly intelligent, funny, bubbling," she told the Taipei Times of her two director exes.

Rossellini oftentimes frames her compliments around the men as directors, but her overall admiration for their minds and passions is always evident. "They have original brains. Originality amuses me, and originality is familiar to me because of my father. It makes me feel immediately like, 'Oh yeah, I'll help you. What do you want me to do?'" she said in her conversation with Vulture. "If someone has an interesting brain, to go with them is an interesting ride." Scorsese speaks fondly of his ex in return, telling the New York Times in 1997 that "she has sincerity and intelligence" that "shows in the acting, and the power she has just in the image of her face.”