Michelle Pfeiffer was once a common sight on the big screen: Up Close and Personal, Dangerous Minds, Hairspray, I Am Sam and scores others films. So it was surprising when there was a gap in her resume between 2013 comedy The Family and 2017, when she was a part of four films, including HBO’s well regarded The Wizard of Lies.
She had left Hollywood by choice to raise her two children, Claudia and John, with her TV producer husband of 27 years, David E. Kelley.
“Before the kids were born, my work was my life — and it was in a good way. When they were small, I could just pack them up and bring them with me,” Pfeiffer said in the March issue of Town and Country. “But then it became, ‘Okay, how long will this separate the family unit?’ When they got into school it became even more complicated, because I didn’t want to just take them out of their routine, so I would shoot in the summer and tried to not be away for more than two or three weeks at a time. It became challenging for people to hire me, because it was too complicated. It was easier to get somebody else to do the part.”
Her return also was driven by her family. The “kids” are now well into their 20s.
“I realized my daughter was looking at colleges, and I saw the writing on the wall,” Pfeiffer said. “I thought, This is going to hit me really hard. It’s time for me to get back into moviemaking.”
While you might think Pfeiffer’s age — she’s now 62 — would limit the good roles available to her in a notoriously youth-obsessed industry, she said that they’re actually juicier than ever.
“Your seat is never saved in this industry. It’s very competitive. There’s that transition time when you’re not the ingenue and you’re not really old enough to be the grandmother — you’re not old enough to play Frances,” Pfeiffer said of the character she portrays in the dramedy French Exit. “I’m at an age when the parts are getting more interesting again for me. I guess the timing of it really worked out, because I don’t feel I missed out on much.”
She’s been nominated for a Golden Globe for the eighth time for her turn as a brash Manhattan socialite who escapes to Paris with the too-small-remainder of her inheritance. And though good reviews don’t always mean that she enjoyed a role, this time she thoroughly did.
“Some of the performances I have felt the best about are ones for which I’ve gotten panned,” Pfeiffer explained. “The ones that make me cringe are typically when I got the best reviews. I saw Scarface and I went, ‘Eh, I’m OK.’ I rarely like my work. I only look at films once. It’s just too painful.”
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