Michelle Pfeiffer chats about reuniting with Dangerous Liaisons director for her new film Cheri

It”s been over years since Michelle Pfeiffer and director Stephen Frears tackled French literature. The result last time was Dangerous Liaisons, where a young Michelle played a young innocent. This time round, the film is Cheri and Michelle’s character is an older, wiser courtesan. Here, the actress chats about about Cheri, reuniting with Frears and growing old in tinsel town:

 

Q: How would you describe this movie?

MP: “I always have difficulty describing films because they are usually multi-layered. This one is a love story, and it’s a tragedy and it’s a comedy of sorts. It’s also kind of a coming of age of both of these people. My character is moving into old age and has the struggles that ensue with that, and Rupert’s character is moving into adulthood. It’s about maturity and acceptance.”


Q: This is a story of a younger man with an older woman. When the novel came out in 1920 this was a taboo – would you say attitudes are different today?

MP: “It was a taboo but compared to today it’s nothing. Nobody would bat an eye if this book were released today. A lot has changed since then. But it’s a beautiful novel. I think the whole issue of a younger man and older woman is still something of a taboo today. That’s why we’re seeing so many movies come out now about it. But at the same time it is becoming more and more socially acceptable.”


Q: How would you describe this movie?

 MP: “I always have difficulty describing films because they are usually multi-layered. This one is a love story, and it’s a tragedy and it’s a comedy of sorts. It’s also kind of a coming of age of both of these people. My character is moving into old age and has the struggles that ensue with that, and Rupert’s character is moving into adulthood. It’s about maturity and acceptance.”

 

 

Q: This is a story of a younger man with an older woman. When the novel came out in 1920 this was a taboo – would you say attitudes are different today?

 MP: “It was a taboo but compared to today it’s nothing. Nobody would bat an eye if this book were released today. A lot has changed since then. But it’s a beautiful novel. I think the whole issue of a younger man and older woman is still something of a taboo today. That’s why we’re seeing so many movies come out now about it. But at the same time it is becoming more and more socially acceptable.”

 

Q: Did you enjoy playing opposite a younger man?

MP: “(Laughs) It seems that my leading men are getting younger the older I get. It seems people have an aversion to casting people of the same age. But lucky for me, I don’t really mind it at all. Rupert was great.”

 

Q: Would you ever consider taking on a toy boy in real life?

MP: “(Laughs) No, no, no. I’m so happily married that I don’t think I could give you an unbiased answer to that.”

 

Q: Our society is getting older and it seems as though we are starting to lose our obsession with youth?

MP: “Are we? I don’t really see it. It would be nice if that happened. I personally haven’t noticed that. I think on the one hand we’re become increasingly obsessed with youth. On the other hand I guess what is considered old age gets older and older. I think we’re staying younger longer. We are taking better care of ourselves and living longer and all of those things.”


Q: So you think we are getting too obsessed with looks and staying wrinkle free?

MP: “Society as a whole has become more and more youth obsessed and beauty obsessed. But at the same time it does feel as though there are more opportunities for women. I say 50 is the new 30.”

 

Q: How did you find turning 50?

MP: “If you think hitting 40 is liberating wait until you hit 50. I was surprised at how liberating it was and I think it’s because, as with everything, the anticipation of something is always much worse than the reality and I think that the anticipation of turning that big number looming over you, you actually turn it and you go ‘Oh. Was that it?”


Q: Are you enjoying life as a 50-year-old?

MP: “I laugh at myself more now. It’s so liberating. I look back and cringe that I took some things so seriously! Plus I am really happy now.”

 

Q: You are classed as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood but you always say you were an ugly duckling as a child. . .

MP: “Yeah, I always felt big and I was a tomboy and I always had a pixie cut. I never had long locks of hair, and I always wanted long locks of hair.”

 

Q: When did you realise that you were beautiful?

MP: “I still haven’t! It depends on how long I’ve spent in make-up and hair. You know, some days I feel beautiful and some days I still feel like an ugly duckling. I think that it depends on the day; some days I feel fabulous and other days I feel like I just want to crawl under a rock.”


Q: Do you feel some actresses are only seen for their beauty and not for their talent?

MP: “I do tend to think that people do objectify beautiful women and cease to see them as human beings. There is a lot of truth to that and if you grow up constantly being told that you’re beautiful, it becomes a part of how you identify yourself and how you know other people see you and how you manoeuvre through the world.”

 

Q: What do you think about Hollywood’s obsession with plastic surgery?

MP: If that nose or those jowls bother you then do it. But this epidemic of people losing sight of what looks good, the distortion that has been going on, it’s kind of creepy.”

 


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