WWD.com/globe-news/film-tv/changing-directions-472227/

She may have made her debut in Brian De Palma’s 2002 thriller “Femme Fatale,” but former model Rie Rasmussen isn’t exactly the bodacious blonde and bazooka type.

This story first appeared in the December 27, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I could never play a woman in a bikini with an Uzi strapped to my back,” says Rasmussen. “I prefer to take the starving-artist approach: knocking down doors in order to pay for my own can of tuna fish.”

Recently, the Danish actress packed up “bits of her life” and headed to Serbia to direct her first feature-length film (set for a 2008 release). As yet untitled, the movie recounts the personal tale of Rasmussen’s adopted Vietnamese sister and her struggle to be accepted in Denmark. Luc Besson, who directed Rasmussen in last year’s “Angel-A,” produced the project, for which Rasmussen cast local actors in the Belgrade, Serbia, and Marseille, France, locations.

But this endeavor is not her first time behind the camera. Rasmussen also directed, wrote and starred in two short films, “Il Vestito” and “Thinning the Herd,” the latter of which was nominated for best short film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

Discovered at age 15 on the streets of New York during a family vacation, Rasmussen is not dismissive of her modeling start. “I just needed to feed my brain more,” she says of her move into acting and directing. Today, at 29, Rasmussen also paints, photographs and writes.

Last year, she put together a book of her sketches, paintings and photography called “Graphic Tales by Lilly Dillon” (“I thought it funny to have an American-sounding artist name,” jokes Rasmussen). Sold at Colette in Paris, the work includes self-portraits, sensual sketches of nudes on fashion show notes or cigar boxes and snapshots of Huntington Beach that date back to when Rasmussen moved from New York to California with hopes of taking on Hollywood.

“Art should not be reserved for the rich,” proclaims Rasmussen, who uses natural materials such as marmalade, sugar, red wine and ink in some of her paintings.

As she sees it, “some people were born with a story to tell. I knew I was when I was four years old.”