The ex-Gucci model does it all: drawing, writing, acting, and photography

By Karen Leigh
Updated May 25, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

”I don’t take jobs that compromise my integrity,” declares Rie Rasmussen, who came to fame as an underwear model in a 2001 Victoria’s Secret show. ”There are stories I was born to tell.” Lately, she’s telling them as an actress, director, and writer. Since costarring in Brian De Palma’s 2002 thriller Femme Fatale, the Denmark native, 29, has become a one-woman creative force: She’s penned two short films (one screened at Cannes in 2004) and will publish a book of her drawings and photographs in the fall. And this week, the former international face of Gucci can be seen in The Fifth Element director Luc Besson’s Angel-A, as an eccentric beauty who befriends a con man.

Mon dieu! Angel-A is in French…of which she knew none ”I was flipping through [the script] and going, ‘Luc, I don’t speak French.’ He said, ‘You do now.’ I took a flight to Paris the next morning, and I submerged myself. I had a coach, and I found French friends. We shot the movie in six weeks. Luc made it for nothing, guerrilla-style, camera on the shoulder. We were so free to do what we wanted. It was like theater.”

She’s drawn to controversial projects Angel-A features ”a Western woman [Angela] and an Arab man in a love story. These are distinct and different cultures; all we need is a bit of communication and a little bit of love. There’s no better message. It’s pertinent to today’s political situation.”

Next up: directing her first full-length feature film Frustrated by countries that defend their borders ”with blood,” Rasmussen recently moved to Belgrade to direct Human Zoo, the drama she wrote about cultural migration. And for this particular adventure, ”I’m going to learn Serbian!”