Italian postcard by CIAK. Photo: Giovanni Cozzi / TDR. Photo: publicity still for Viola bacia tutti/Viola Kisses Everybody (Giovanni Veronesi, 1998).
David di Donatello
Aria Asia Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento was born in 1975. Her mother is actress Daria Nicolodi and her father is Dario Argento, an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter, well known for his work in the Italian Giallo genre and for his influence on modern horror and slasher movies. Her maternal great-grandfather was composer Alfredo Casella.
When Asia Argento was born in Rome, the city registry office refused to acknowledge Asia as an appropriate name, and instead officially inscribed her as Aria Argento. As a child she was lonely and depressed, owing in part to her parents' work. At age eight, Argento published a book of poems, and at the age of 14, she ran away from home.
She also started acting at the age of nine, playing a small role in the TV Miniseries Sogni e bisogni/Dreams and needs (Sergio Citti, 1985), starring Giulietta Masina. Two years later, she had a small part in Dèmoni 2/Demons 2 (Lamberto Bava, 1986), which was written and produced by her father. She also appeared in its sequel, the horror film La Chiesa/The Church (Michele Soavi, 1989), when she was 14. It was produced by Dario Argento with Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori.
Her next film was the teen drama Le amiche del cuore/Close Friends (Michele Placido, 1992), which was entered into the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.
When she was 18, Argento starred in her father’s Giallo Trauma (Dario Argenta, 1993) about murders in a psychiatric hospital. The character played by Asia was inspired by her half-sister Anna (Nicolodi's daughter from a previous marriage) who suffered from anorexia like Asia’s character in the film. Trauma was Dario Argento's first feature length American production and the cast featured American actors like Piper Laurie, Frederic Forrest and Brad Dourif.
Asia received the David di Donatello (Italy's version of the Academy Award) for Best Actress in 1994 for her performance in the comedy Perdiamoci di vista/Let's Not Keep in Touch (1993) written, directed and starred by Carlo Verdone. She won another David di Donatello for her role opposite Michel Piccoli in Compagna di viaggio/Traveling Companion (Peter Del Monte, 1996), which also earned her a Grolla d'oro award.
A large box office hit when released in Italy was the horror film La Sindrome di Stendhal/The Stendhal Syndrome (Dario Argento, 1995), starring Asia opposite Thomas Kretschmann. La Sindrome di Stendhal was the first Italian film to use computer-generated imagery (CGI). It was Dario Argento's highest grossing film in Italy.
Trailer Trauma (1993). Source: R6dw6C (YouTube).
Calling the Shots
Asia Argento has proven her ability to work in multiple languages.
In France, she played the supporting role of Charlotte de Sauve in the period film La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (Patrice Chéreau, 1994), starring Isabelle Adjani. The film was an international box-office success, and won the Jury Prize and Best Actress Award at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, as well as five César Awards.
Later French films with her were the thriller La sirène rouge/The Red Siren (Olivier Megaton, 2002) with Jean-Marc Barr, the drama Transylvania (Tony Gatlif, 2006) and the thriller Boarding Gate (Olivier Asayas, 2008) with Michael Madsen.
In 1998, Asia Argento began appearing in English-language films, such as the crime film B. Monkey (Michael Radford, 1998), opposite Jared Harris and Rupert Everett, and the Cyberpunk film New Rose Hotel (Abel Ferrara, 1998) with Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe.
That same year, she made her first foray into directing, calling the shots behind the short films Prospettive and A ritroso. In 1996, she had directed a documentary on her father, and in 1998 she directed a second one on Abel Ferrara, which won her the Rome Film Festival Award.
She also starred with Julian Sands in her father’s Il fantasma dell'opera/The Phantom of the Opera (Dario Argento, 1998), adapted from the novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, although there are many differences between the book and the film (the biggest: the Phantom is not disfigured).
Trailer Scarlet Diva (2000). Source: Film&Clips (YouTube).
In 2000, Asia Argento directed and wrote her first feature film, the semi-autobiographical Scarlet Diva (2000), in which she also starred. It was a family affair. Her mother, Daria Nicolodi, played Asia’s character’s mother, her uncle Claudia Argento produced the film and her father co-produced.
Four years later she directed her second film, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004), in which she starred with Peter Fonda as her father and Ornella Muti as her mother.
In the US, she starred in the action film xXx (Rob Cohen, 2002) with Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson, which was a commercial success. Other films in which she starred were The Keeper (2004, Paul Lynch) with Dennis Hopper, Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005) starring Michael Pitt, and George A. Romero's post-apocalyptic horror film Land of the Dead (2005).
She played Madame DuBarry in the historical drama Marie Antoinette (2006), written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Argento reunited with Abel Farrara for Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007) starring Willem Dafoe.
In France she appeared in Une vieille maîtresse/The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, 2007), based on a controversial novel by the French writer Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly. The film was entered into the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Then followed a starring role in her father’s supernatural horror film La Terza madre/The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, 2007) with her mother Daria Nicolodi and Udo Kier co-starring. La Terza madre is the concluding instalment of Argento's supernatural horror trilogy The Three Mothers, which began with Suspiria in 1977.
More recent films include the Italian drama Isole/Islands (Stefano Chiantini, 2011), the comedy Baciato dalla fortuna (Paolo Costella, 2011) – a huge hit in Italy, and Dracula 3D (Dario Argento, 2012) starring Thomas Kretschmann and Rutger Hauer.
In addition to her cinematic accomplishments, Argento has written a number of stories for magazines, while her first novel, titled I Love You Kirk, was published in Italy in 1999. She has modelled for and endorses the brand Miss Sixty. She became a fan of the band Hondo Maclean when they wrote a track named after her. She liked the track so much she sent them pictures which they used as the cover of their 2003 EP Plans for a better day.
Her first child, Anna Lou, was born in 2001. Italian rock and roll musician Marco Castoldi (lead singer of Bluvertigo), also known as Morgan, is the father. She named her daughter after her half-sister Anna Ceroli, who died in a motorcycle accident. Argento married film director Michele Civetta in 2008 in Arezzo. Her second child, Nicola Giovanni, was born that year in Rome.
Trailer Dracula 3D (2012). Source: JoBlo Movie Trailers (YouTube).
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.