Michelle Pfeiffer Reveals Why She Stepped Away From Hollywood

Oh, Michelle Pfeiffer, you’ve been missed. The three-time Oscar nominee, who took a break from Hollywood after 2013’s The Family, explained her four-year absence to Darren Aronofsky for Interview magazine.

Michelle Pfeiffer attends the 'Malavita' premiere at Kino in der Kulturbrauerei on October 15, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
Michelle Pfeiffer attends the 'Malavita' premiere at Kino in der Kulturbrauerei on Oct. 15, 2013, in Berlin. Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Aronofsky, 48, directs Pfeiffer, 58, in the upcoming drama Mother!, which also stars his girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence.

“Well, the first thing that comes to mind is I’m an empty nester now,” Pfeiffer explained. “I’ve never lost my love for acting. I feel really at home on the movie set. I’m a more balanced person, honestly, when I’m working. But I was pretty careful about where I shot, how long I was away, whether or not it worked out with the kids’ schedule. And I got so picky that I was unhirable. And then … I don’t know, time just went on. And now, you know, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I’m more open now, my frame of mind, because I really want to work now, because I can.”


Michelle Pfeiffer and Brittany Snow in 2007's Hairspray.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Brittany Snow in 2007's 'Hairspray.' New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection

The Hairspray star shares two children — Claudia, 23, and John, 22 — with writer husband David E. Kelley. The couple tied the knot in 1993 following a string of her hits, including Dangerous Liaisons, Batman Returns and The Age of Innocence.

Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992's Batman Returns.
Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992's 'Batman Returns.' Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

Pfeiffer first got the acting bug years before her “surfer chick” chapter in high school. “I’m from Orange County, Southern California, and couldn’t have been more removed from the entertainment business. In fact, I didn’t really even go to the movies much. My mother didn’t drive. My father couldn’t be bothered. So, I didn’t really go anywhere,” she said. “But what I did do is I would stay up really late watching old movies on television. I can’t even tell you what they were because I was so young. But I remember watching what they were doing and saying to myself, “I can do that.”

The actress went on to take a theater class to “avoid” her English course. “I was terrible in English. And all of the kids in the theater department were thought of as being the strange kids on campus. But I felt right at home, which meant, I suppose, that I was one of those strange kids on campus. But nobody told me. And I loved it,” she told Aronofsky for Interview. “I ditched every other class but that one.”

Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino in 1983's Scarface.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino in 1983's 'Scarface.' Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

After graduation, Pfeiffer landed her first gig in the series Delta House in 1979. Four years later, she launched her career by playing Elvira Hancock in 1983’s Scarface opposite Al Pacino. After more than three decades in the business, she will appear in this year’s Murder on the Orient Express and play Bernie Madoff’s wife, Ruth Madoff, in the HBO film The Wizard of Lies, airing next month.

Nevertheless, Pfeiffer worries that the public will start to think that she’s a “fraud,” which is one reason why she hates doing interviews. “I think that’s because I started working fairly quickly and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have any formal training. I didn’t come from Juilliard. I was just getting by and learning in front of the world,” she said. “So I’ve always had this feeling that one day they’re going to find out that I’m really a fraud, that I really don’t know what I’m doing.”

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