"In Spain, I have always been known because of my looks," she points out. "People say, 'Oh yeah, she's the one with that strange face Almodovar loves."'
Her left eye is green, her right eye is hazel and one eye is rounder than the other. Full lips barely close over a mouthful of teeth, and her most dominant feature is that nose. It seems to start up above the eyebrows, takes in a big bump, then drops down sharply to finish with a flourish just above her mouth. Not your typical Spanish beauty, she looks more like a contorted Cubist portrait by Picasso.
And yet those looks have made her one of director Pedro Almodovar's favorite actresses, and she's back in his latest, "Kika," opening this week in New York. She also shows up regularly on the runways for Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and Sybilla, and she is currently filming "Pret-a-Porter" with Robert Altman.
"Perhaps I'm very pretty to some people, and very ugly for others," she says matter-of-factly. "But that's their problem, not mine."
The 29-year-old actress was born in Mallorca, where it was quickly clear she was not quite like the other girls.
"At school, everyone talked about my nose," she remembers. "The feeling was, 'Rossy is very sympatica -- Rossy is very fun -- Rossy dances so well -- but Rossy has such a big nose.' I was bothered at first, but at one point I looked in the mirror and for me it wasn't a problem."
De Palma began to turn what was a disadvantage into an advantage. Instead of hiding what others saw as defects, she flaunted them, and she developed a quirky sense of style to call attention to herself.
"I don't just love fashion," she says, "I devour it."
She soon came up with an eccentric mix of clothing, including second-hand finds, the few designer pieces she could afford and clothes she had sewn herself. Then, as though a logical next step, she and some friends formed a rock group, El Peor Impossible (The Worst Possible). By boasting that they were bad, the group turned its lack of experience into a plus through excessive camp -- much as de Palma had done with her looks. She sang, danced and played electronic drums for the group, taking on her stage name for just a little flair. "I call myself Rossy de Palma because the town I'm from is Palma. It's not like Brian De Palma, or anything," she points out, politely refusing to give her real name because doing so would spoil the fun.