THE SUN | March 26, 2012

Michelle Pfeiffer: A mum can survive on three hours’ sleep

MICHELLE PFEIFFER became famous thanks to 1980s films such as The Witches Of Eastwick, Dangerous Liaisons and The Fabulous Baker Boys.

She had established herself as one of the world’s best-known actresses by the time she cut back on movies to bring up her family.

She has adopted daughter Claudia Rose, 18, and son John Henry, 17, with second husband, TV producer David E. Kelley.

Michelle, 53, who co-stars with Johnny Depp in upcoming film Dark Shadows, is also known for her work with charities helping cancer patients. Here, she tells GARTH PEARCE what she wished she knew aged 18.

“I WISH I had known at 18 the importance of education.

I was always at the beach. I couldn’t wait to get out of school. I was so bored.

I was a California girl to a T, being brought up in Midway City between Los Angeles and San Diego.

I was not a good girl and always in trouble for something or other.

Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention — and I also regret that I did not have teachers who were more interested in me.

When I became a mother, I realised I had not taken enough advantage of my education and came to appreciate how important it really is.

That is completely different to having success.

There are people who have had no education who have made a lot of their lives.

If you are not careful, education can just slip by and it is sometimes hard to get a second chance.

I’d also taken up acting at school because I was so bad at English and thought I would improve by taking theatre studies. But becoming an actress was as unobtainable as going to the moon — or becoming president.

I had worked, part-time, as a check-out girl in a supermarket since the age of 14 and, in the end, I left school at 17 and worked there full-time. I had not learned a thing.

I was living with my parents at home, working the check-out, spending time on the beach and realised I’d better do something with my life. I called a friend of mine, Walter Deadman, who was a hairdresser, who had always been harping on at me to model.

I told him I would like to become an actress.

Instead of laughing, he suggested I join a beauty pageant. I called up a modelling agent, John Robert Powers, who ran a sort of charm school.

I borrowed a dress — I never wore them because they used to call me chicken legs at high school — and went along for some test shots. I used those to put myself up for the pageant.

So I went to LA for the first time in my life for the pageant. The biggest stress was that I smoked and I’d have to give it up for a week! I won a prize, because they suddenly decided they wanted a Miss Orange County. In truth, they had more crowns than people.

But winning that pageant did change my life. I moved out of my parents’ house to about half a mile down the road and about six months later signed with an agent.

I got a TV series and did not have to work at the supermarket any more. After that, what happened to me felt very dreamlike — a Disneyland experience, which changed me.

But I also wish I’d have known how being recognised would bother me far more than it should.

I found it disturbing and completely unnatural. There is nothing to prepare you.

I wish I could have handled it better, initially.

I have learned since that it is possible to have both a home life and a working life. The worst moment was when there was a radio report, in the late 1990s, that David had left me for Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart — and we were both listening in the car, with the kids!

They gave an on-air apology the next day and I have never heard a more grovelling retraction. But it is hard dealing with that kind of stuff.

I also struggled with my own image as a sexual person.

That ended with a film, The Fabulous Baker Boys in 1989, by which time I was 31.

Even two years before that, I would not have been able to play the part of the sexually appealing Susie Diamond. She was dynamic and unapologetic and I was able to put on those clothes and play the part. I think, because of the way I looked, I had stayed away from buying anything sexy or overtly sexual.

It was a turning point for me, because I could understand why men would find her sexy.

I wish I’d been more like her. Before that, I would walk around looking like a bag lady!

But the biggest turning point in my life was becoming a mother. If you had told me when I was 18 that I could survive on three hours’ sleep a night, I’d have never believed it. You just cope.

I would not choose a showbusiness career for my children.

I would say: ‘Be a doctor, or something else’. The value of a good education has never left me.”

By Garth Pearce

Original Source: The Sun


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