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  Actor Interview

DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

The Story Of Us:
syndicated interview with Michelle Pfeiffer

Do you share your character's concerns about romance fading in a marriage?

"You don't have to be married to know that can happen. If you're not careful you can lose touch with each other if you've been together for a long time, you just stop communicating. and take each other for granted. It's even easier to do that when you add children on top of that, but I don't think it's marriage per se. Marriage is really defined by the people involved. and what you make of it."

Being married yourself, did you have an insight into your on screen plight?

"If anything I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to relate to these people because I'm in a good marriage and very content. But I've had failed relationships in the past, I've certainly had enough life experience to be able to relate to these two people. it's pretty universal."

Does the downbeat nature of the drama make it hard work for you to act?

"The hardest thing for an actor is to work on bad material. It doesn't matter if it's a bleakest subject, if it's well written it's a joy to come to work and be able to play those scenes. You just commit to them and they take you where you need to go, and you can actually feel very cleansed by the end of the day. In this film I actually responded to the comedic elements of it. I certainly read all the other scenes, the ones that tended to be a little darker and angrier and sadder, but I just paid more attention to the funnier ones. Even scenes that are more on a sad note, they were so well written that it was really fun doing them."

There's a perennial concern that there are never enough good roles for actresses in Hollywood - is this something you share?

"My perception might be skewed, because I really feel that I have great opportunities. I can't complain. I feel blessed, and very lucky with the choices that I've had. But I also think that it's gotten better in recent years. And there are a lot of movies where the mens' roles aren't that great either, they're just formulaic, but they work at the box office. I think there are some amazing performances by women, and some really great roles. There is still a disparity between men and women but the gap is sort of narrowing. and I think the disparity between salaries is narrowing with it."

Who are your role models?

"I've never really had one, but if I did it would probably be my grandmother. Fifty years ago she threw her sewing machine into the back of a truck, and drove from North Dakota to California finding work wherever she could."

Is there any advice you would give to yourself as a struggling young actress at 19, if you could?

"I think that the greatest thing would have been if I could have had as much fun working then as I have now. I think when you're younger you're so frightened of failure. and of the need to prove yourself. Everything is so new that it's kind of scary, and it takes away from the enjoyment of it. I'm so much more confident now."

You must have changed a lot since you started out in the business?

"My priorities are very different now, in that I think that my career was really everything to me before I had children. That was fine. you know, because it gave me a lot, it gave me a lot of independence and it really defined how I felt about myself to a great extent. Then when I had children I put so much emphasis into that that I didn't feel the need for my work in the same way. And as a result of that I enjoy it more now, which is great. I actually love working more. But the dichotomy is that I don't work as much because I'm a mother, at a time when I'm really feeling like I'm at my peak in terms of my abilities as an artist, my love for it and my feeling of what I'm capable of. That's not a bad place to be."

What do your kids think of your movies?

"Not much [laughing], they're only five and seven. In fact when they started going to school I felt like I'd done them a terrible injustice, because I realised that the other children would know more about me than they did. My intentions were right but I thought I'd carried this too far. I wondered what I could show them, Ladyhawke's a little too scary, there are very few that are appropriate for a 5 and 7 year old. But Grease 2 - I figured they'd love that. I pulled it out, dusted it off and I showed them me, and after about 20 minutes they were completely bored. That was the end of their education with my career."

How do you manage to look so great still?

"I exercise and I eat pretty well, not perfect, but pretty well. I try to take good care of myself. I'm not a fanatic, but I try. I make an effort."

You were famously linked with playing the title role in the film version of Evita. What happened?

"I would have liked to have done it, but the movie they made was really good and I thought Madonna did a great job. Antonio was very good in that too. I was going to do it when Oliver Stone was still down to direct it, but I came to the conclusion at a certain time that I couldn't leave home for the amount of time they would need me for. At the time I was actually pregnant with my son - I was just huge - and I was doing demos of the songs, but I realised he would have been a new born and I'd been working really hard on things, and they couldn't make it in the States so I couldn't do it. Family comes first after all."

The Story Of Us is released on rental video, and DVD retail, by Warner Home Video on 23 October 2000

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