By any measure Michelle Pfeiffer is a survivor. But will she ever regain her superstar status?
Ay, there’s the rub.
She started her acting career 36 years ago with Grease 2. That role made her the It-girl in Hollywood landing roles opposite Al Pacino in Scarface, Mel Gibson in Tequila Sunset and Jack Nicholson in Witches Of Eastwick.
But it was her Oscar nominated performance in Dangerous Liaisons that made her a top Hollywood star. She followed that with another Oscar nominated performance as a chanteuse in The Fabulous Baker Boys. And a third in Love Field.
At which time she ended her unhappy marriage to actor-director Peter Horton and married writer David E. Kelley, at the time Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor.
The two have been blissfully together for over 20 years. Although she’s continued to handpick roles, nothing that she’s done since has found acceptance with either critics or the public. I personally admired A Thousand Acres, which she also produced, and White Oleander.
Her biggest win since has been her personal life.
After three failed relationships and one divorce, personal happiness seemed out of reach, but then suddenly within weeks, she adopted a baby and then met and married the man of her dreams. A year later she gave birth to their son.
Those things usually happen only in movies, but Pfeiffer disagrees. For her it was a natural progression. In Kelley, she has found her soulmate and someone who’s equally attractive, intelligent, and successful.
Once considered the most beautiful actress in Hollywood, Pfeiffer, 60, hasn’t changed that much.
How do you take care of yourself?
For me, it’s what you eat. And exercise, too, is critical.
When I am not working, I pack on a few and I don’t look so good, but when I am working, I make an extra effort. Staying healthy is really important.
What type of exercise do you do?
I kind of do a little bit of everything, a little bit of running and yoga and Pilates.
And food choices?
I just eat clean food, organic, non-processed.
After being away from acting for 10 years you roared back in 2017 with three acclaimed performances. What does acting give you now that it didn’t before?
I enjoy it more, I think I have less angst about it.
The process has become more and more important to me, and it’s strange, in some ways, I have become a little more picky. The older you get the more you really value your time.
What motivated you to want to come back?
It was never a conscious choice to stop working for that long of a period of time. But life just kind of took over.
And when my children became my priority.
But then when they started looking at colleges it really hit me, and I realised that I was going to have a really hard time when they leave.
So, I was ready to go back to work, but I needed to prepare myself. So I did a little bit here and there, some smaller parts, but now I’m back working and it feels really good and I love it; I’m having a great time.
Would you play against type?
I don’t even know what my type is. I’m not a personality kind of actor. There are a lot of actors who are very charismatic, who have a strong persona that inhabits the character they play. I don’t have that. I’ve tried, and I’m really a failure at it.
But would you like to play a really evil woman?
I’d love to. I think bad girls are much more fun to play. I guess it’s a little risky, but if you’re successful you win big.
Your life is so blessed. Do you ever wonder why?
I guess because I followed my heart. When I started acting, I had no idea whether I would be successful. I didn’t know anybody in show business, I didn’t know the first thing how to go about it, and I just sort of put one foot in front of the other and I thought well, if I fail, I fail.
And I think with my husband, I was mature enough, I was 34 when I met him. And I was ready, and I chose really well.
You and David have been together for 20 years. What is the secret?
I think choosing well. I think if you don’t choose somebody for the right reasons, you are sort of doomed to failure.
I haven’t always chosen well, but I did with him. And then I think if you choose well, you will continue to respect each other, and that I think is critical.
Especially when you have a family and you both have very busy careers, it’s easy to forget to make time for each other.
So we have always made time for each other.
But you’ve never worked together?
I am a little bit superstitious about that, having seen a lot of couples split up right after working together.
As soon as you are on the cover of People magazine as a couple, before you know it, you’re divorced.
So, I think it’s better to be able to come home and b*tch about the day and how wronged you were during the day and have that person be on your side and only hear your side of the story.
What was the best advice you got from your parents?
My mother really stressed the importance of me having a career.
She never had a career and she used to always say to me, “Michelle, whatever you do, before you get married, have a career first.”
And it was the best advice she ever gave me because I see a lot of women who are stuck in abusive relationships and they’re miserable because they have no means to support themselves.
So, I think that it’s really important for women to be able to do that.
And your father?
My father, because we didn’t have a lot of money and were really living pay cheque to pay cheque, he really stressed the importance of having a savings and saving for a rainy day.