NEW YORK (CNN) -- When it comes to sex, Isabella Rossellini is an animal.
Isabella Rossellini, as a fly, poses with a friend in "Green Porno."
A spider. An earthworm. A fly.
They're just some of the creatures the actress impersonates in her new project, "Green Porno." The series of short films, commissioned by the Sundance Channel, is a showcase of how small creatures get down to the business of reproducing.
Rossellini hopes you'll find the two-minute flicks amusing. She also wants you to learn something along the way, such as the fact that snails are hermaphrodites. And perhaps more interestingly, that the saucy mollusks engage in a decidedly rough form of foreplay.
Of course, you can't beat the praying mantis when it comes to aggressive copulating. The female bites the head off the male during sex.
"Yes, while they're mating the female eats up the male and the male continues to mate until he's completely eaten and dead," says Rossellini. "With a lot of insects, a lot of females eat the male." Watch a seductive Rossellini in "Green Porno" »
Costumed as a different critter in each of the eight films, Rossellini -- perhaps best known to American audiences for her roles in the film "Blue Velvet" and the TV series "Alias" -- shares tidbits like these, not all of them so gruesome, and demonstrates the appropriate technique.
But before you reach for the dimmer switch and start cranking Barry White tunes, know that her mate in each scene is made of ... well ... cardboard.
Consider it small-time porn for the small screen. The films were actually tailor-made for viewing on cell phones.
Rossellini sat down with CNN to share her views on sex, bugs and family.
CNN: You conceived, scripted, directed and star in these short films. How did you come up with the idea for "Green Porno"?
ISABELLA ROSSELLINI: I had the format of the film, I had the fact that being [for a] small screen you have to do something that is almost like animation, with primary colors, very strong. So I had the art direction. Then Sundance's mission is to be a green channel ... so I knew the subject had to be about green. And so with these elements I thought, "Ah! Sex life of bugs!" Because everybody likes sex and is interested in sex. And people don't really think how strange the animals are around us.
I've always been very interested in animals. I'm a bird watcher. I raise dogs for the blind. Mostly my career has been as a model and as an actress, but people who know me know that I have a big interest in animals. The world of animals shows me how incredible this planet is. It's bigger than fantasy.
CNN: Do you play the female insect in each film?
ROSSELLINI: It's hard to tell. Sometimes I play the male, but a lot of insects are hermaphrodites.
CNN: What was the most challenging creature to play?
ROSSELLINI: Probably the hardest costume to wear was the worm. Because my hands [were restricted]. We shot one animal per day, so I was in that costume for many, many hours and I couldn't scratch, I couldn't drink. We had a lunch break so I could come out, but once I was in my costume I stayed paralyzed for hours.
CNN: Would you say these are the most unusual roles you've ever played?
ROSSELLINI: Definitely. They are the most unusual roles that I've played because generally I play humans. [laughs]
CNN: How do you approach the graphic nature of sex?
ROSSELLINI: Well I chose insects because they are so [different] from us. Mammals, like a dog or a chimpanzee, might look too much like us. The films are very accessible. They are not shocking in any way. And I wanted it to be that way. Insects are so different from us that you can't even go close to anything that would shock us.
CNN: Have your kids seen these films?
ROSSELLINI: Yes they have. They liked them a lot. In fact my son is one of the bees. Bees are so complicated and they are so much of a community that I couldn't really play all [of them]. I needed some actors, so I hired my son and his friends to play the male bees.
CNN: To help mom in her porno.
ROSSELLINI: Exactly! [laughs]
CNN: I take it you had fun making these films.
ROSSELLINI: Oh I had so much fun making them. It was really great. I worked with a group of about 10 people and we are all looking forward to making more. It's fun to resolve it visually. When I write the scripts I write them like a comic strip. But I don't know how to make a three-dimensional fly. I draw it, and [my colleagues] help realize it. E-mail to a friend
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