one divorce. a collection of boyfriends includinglohn Malkovich and Michael Keaton. and the adoption of a baby girl a couple of years ago — her private life isn’t tabloid fodder in the way that Julia Roberts‘s is.
By remaining in the background. Pfeiffer could be easily dismissed as living in bimbo limbo and getting by on looks alone. However. as recently as December. Pteiffer was being honoured by her peers. alongside producer Sherry Lansing and writer-director Nora
Ephron. at a Women ln l-loliywood event. ltjust goes to show that the industry is beginning to take serious notice of a woman born only eight
miles from Disneyland.
‘l was a bit of a bad girl. Not really. really bad. but not very good either.’ she says of her school days when. as a straight B~grade student. she preferred hanging out at the local beach. ‘My mother always instilled in me that it was important to have a career. She never had one of her own. but she always said. before i got married and had kids. 1 should have a career. My father. too. raised me with a man’s sensibility and the male work ethic. I always had a real hunger for knowledge. ljust didn’t know where to go to get it. l tried to go to junior college a couple oftimes. but I was very unfocused. l was drawn to the arts and was always taking dance or some kind of art class or psychology. and i think the two — the art and psychology — led me towards acting.‘
Working at a supermarket checkout. studying to be a court stenographer. Pfeiffer was persuaded to enter the 1978 Miss Orange County pageant - and won. Victory brought a Hollywood agent and a bit part in the television show Fantasy Island. Her physical appearance got her noticed early on - the Olivia Newton- John clone in Grease 2. Al Pacino’s doped~up trophy girlfriend in Scarface — but even as early as 1984. in John Landis’s likeable caper Into The Night. she was able to show a talent for light comedy that still hasn’t been fully exploited. When teamed with Jack Nicholson. Cher and Susan Sarandon in The Witches 0f Eastwick in 1987. she was deﬁnitely moving into a higher division.
The real turning points came in 1988: in her private life. she split from husband Peter Horton. while. professionally speaking. she received tangible critical recognition in the shape of a Golden Globe nomination for Married To The Mob. Five other Golden Globe nominations — including a win for The Fabulous Baker Boys and three Oscar nominations followed in high density over the next seven years. Films like Dangerous Liaisons. The Age Of Innocence and The Russia House developed
her skills. while Batman Returns and wolf
ensured her commercial viability.
Now. married to producer David Kelley and with a baby boy of their own. Pfeiffer is content to choose roles that won’t take her far from her Los Angeles home and family. Extensive lo ‘ation shooting caused her to turn down the lead in Evita. which. with its demands on her singing talents. would certainly have put her in a new light. Up Close And Personal. a romance with Robert Redford. will be released later in 1996. and she’s also ready to start producing hand—picked projects — ‘I run into conflicts of interest with myself — the actress is very emotional and kind of a hothead. and the producer has to stay cool and levelheaded.‘ With a Catwoman spin-off movie in the pre- script stages. she is obviously keen to keep moving on — regardless of what this fickle industry usually demands of actresses at this stage in their career.
She' ll make it. too — the evidence of her ability is already there on screen. Take the opening scene of 1993‘s Love Field. Pfeiffer faces us in a flowery pink nightie. deliberately dowdy in a blue hairnet and rollers — as far as can be imagined from the luscious Susie Diamond who stretched across Jeff Bridges‘ piano while making whoopee in The Fabulous Baker Boys. As a woman determined to travel from Texas to JFK’s funeral in Washington. the role could
MICHELLE PFEIFFER FEATIIE
. J] Hair apparent penned and pruned ior Married to The Mob. long and luscious in the Fabulous Bdter Boys, subtle and sophisticated In The Age oi innocence. have been limited to showcase appeal. but somehow Pfeiffer makes the audience feel more genuine pain and confusion over the Kennedy assassination than Oliver Stone could rustle up with a sackful of conspiracies. The character is funny. moving. brave. exasperating. The actress makes sure these aren‘t separate calling cards. but different aspects of the same person. made real through inner conflicts. Both women are more than just pretty faces. Dangerous Minds opens on Friday 12 January. See page 29 for review.
The List 12-25 Jan 1996 13