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 (a name accepted by the city registry). She nonetheless always went by the name Asia, which she later used professionally. Argento has said that as a child she was lonely and depressed, owing in part to her parents' work. Her father used to read her his scripts as bedtime stories. At age eight, Argento published a book of poems. At the age of 14, she ran away from home. She was an introvert and read to make up for having no friends.
In an interview with Filmmaker magazine she stated that she was agoraphobic while she was writing Scarlet Diva and that she could not leave her apartment for months. She said: "I was afraid to go out of my apartment for a long time, I could only go out to work."
Argento has mentioned in interviews that she does not have a close relationship with her father. She has mentioned that he was absent when she was a child. She has also mentioned that she did not have a happy childhood. Regarding her relationship with her father and her reason for acting, she has stated that:
I never acted out of ambition; I acted to gain my father's attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It's like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.
Asia Argento started acting at the age of nine, playing a small role in a film by Sergio Citti. She also had a small part in Demons 2, a 1986 film written and produced by her father, at the age of 10, as well as its unofficial sequel, La Chiesa (The Church), when she was 14, and Trauma (1993), when she was 18. She received the David di Donatello (Italy's version of the Academy Award) for Best Actress in 1994 for her performance in Perdiamoci di vista, and again in 1996 for Compagna di viaggio, which also earned her a Grolla d'oro award. In 1998, Argento began appearing in English-language movies, such as B. Monkey and New Rose Hotel.
Argento has proven her ability to work in multiple languages, adding French, with a role as Charlotte de Sauve in 1994's La Reine Margot. That same year, she made her first foray into directing, calling the shots behind the short films Prospettive and A ritroso. In 1996, she directed a documentary on her father, and in 1998 a second one on Abel Ferrara, which won her the Rome Film Festival Award.
Argento directed and wrote her first movie, Scarlet Diva (2000), which her father co-produced. In 2002, she portrayed Russian undercover spy Yelena in the action film xXx alongside Vin Diesel. In 2004, she directed her second film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, based on a book by JT LeRoy, the pen name of Laura Albert, this time in the United States. According to a Paris Review interview with Laura Albert, Argento and Savannah Knoop (who played the role of JT's public persona) became lovers.
In addition to her cinematic accomplishments, Argento has written a number of stories for magazines such as Dynamo and L'Espresso, while her first novel, titled I Love You Kirk, was published in Italy in 1999. She has modeled 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.
From 17 to 25 October 2006, Argento contributed a video diary to Nick Knight's website, SHOWstudio. The title of the 54 entries-episodes was "Don't Bother To Knock" and detailed Argento's daily life with three entries (noon, 6 pm and midnight) posted every day. The content of the entries were partially controlled by a discussion forum and together formed a cohesive whole, a sort of "mini-movie" anyone could view for free. In the clips Argento discusses topics such as freaks, her father, Federico Fellini and her sexuality; she also journals a pregnancy, a new love interest and her unraveling psyche. The last visual of the diary is a digitally manipulated portrait of Argento taken by Knight, slowly burning away.
She appeared in Placebo's music video for "This Picture", and appeared on Placebo frontman Brian Molko's cover version of "Je t'aime... moi non plus". Argento has also starred in Catherine Breillat's period drama The Last Mistress.
She dubbed the Italian version of the video game Mirror's Edge in the role of the runner Faith Connors.
Argento has been part of the Legendary Tiger Man's project Femina, which was released on 14 September 2009. She is featured on the song "Life Ain't Enough for You", which was released as a single along with the B-side "My stomach is the most violent of all Italy", in which she also contributes vocals.
In May 2013, Argento released her debut LP, entitled Total Entropy, under Nuun Music. She has been performing works from the album at various venues in Germany, France and England. She is working on a number of film projects. In November, Argento wrote the storyline for the music video and short film "Phoenix", along with the director Francesco Carrozzini, taken from the ASAP Rocky album Long. Live. ASAP, the short film stars actor Michael K. Williams and model Joan Smalls.
In 2014, Argento played supporting role in the British film Shongram, a fictional romantic drama based around the factual and historical events of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
Her 2014 film Misunderstood was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. While doing press for Misunderstood Argento stated that she was through with acting and had made the decision to focus her energies on writing and directing.
Besides Italian, she also speaks fluent English and can also speak French, which she learned for her role in Les Morsures de L'Aube.
Her first child, Anna Lou, was born on 20 June 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 on 27 August 2008 in Arezzo. Her second child, Nicola Giovanni, was born on 15 September 2008 in Rome. The couple divorced in 2013. She and her children live in Vigna Clara, north of Rome.
In early 2017, it was reported by several Italian news sources that Argento had begun a relationship with Anthony Bourdain.
In 2012, Argento was highlighted in the retrospective Argento: Il Cinema Nel Sangue at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The retrospective celebrated the influence of the Argento family on filmmaking in Italy and around the world. It highlighted Asia's contribution as well as that of her father, grandfather (Salvatore), uncle (Claudio) and mother (Daria Nicolodi)."(s)AINT" – Marilyn Manson"This Picture" – Placebo"Live Fast! Die Old!" – with Munk"Someone" – with Archigram and Antipop"Sexodrome" – with Morgan"Life Ain't Enough for You" – with The Legendary Tigerman"My Stomach Is the Most Violent of All of Italy" – with The Legendary Tigerman"Ours" – with Tim Burgess"La vie est belle" - Indochine