Af­ter a hia­tus, Michelle Pfeif­fer re­turns in ‘mother!’

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

When Michelle Pfeif­fer first read Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s script for “mother!” she had an un­der­stand­able ini­tial re­ac­tion. “I thought: What the hell is this?” re­calls Pfeif­fer. Aronof­sky’s film is not in any way typ­i­cal, nor is the kind of project you’d ex­pect a long-ab­sent ac­tress like Pfeif­fer to join as her first big-screen per­for­mance in five years. The film, in­ten­tion­ally shrouded in mys­tery, is a wild and weird odyssey by one of the movies’ ex­pert con­jur­ers of dark, sur­real dream worlds that sus­pend its view­ers and of­ten its per­form­ers, too - in a vividly at­mo­spheric state of para­noia.

“You don’t even know, re­ally, how to talk about it,” says Pfeif­fer, as if throw­ing up her hands, in a re­cent in­ter­view. But one of the many mys­ter­ies worth pon­der­ing in Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s al­le­gor­i­cal thriller is a sim­ple one: Why don’t we see Pfeif­fer more of­ten? The good news is that “mother!” rep­re­sents the start of what may be a kind of re­nais­sance for the 59year-old ac­tress, whose steely beauty and cool, pierc­ing in­tel­li­gence re­mains just as dev­as­tat­ing. “I’m re­ally ex­cited to be back,” says Pfeif­fer. “Es­pe­cially hav­ing worked with th­ese ex­cit­ing ac­tors and th­ese di­rec­tors who I so ad­mire. The most ex­cit­ing for me is all of th­ese re­ally tal­ented peo­ple that I’m able to do movies with.”

Along with “mother!” which Para­mount Pic­tures will re­lease Fri­day, Pfeif­fer co-stars in Ken­neth Branagh’s up­com­ing, more old-fash­ioned mys­tery “Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press.” She has joined the cast of the “Ant-Man” se­quel and ear­lier this year pre­miered the Sundance Film Fes­ti­val en­try “Where is Kyra?” in which she plays a woman strug­gling to sur­vive in Brook­lyn on her ail­ing mother’s in­come. She also re­ceived an Emmy nom­i­na­tion for her cock­tail-drink­ing, chain-smok­ing Ruth Mad­off in Barry Levin­son’s HBO movie “The Wizard of Lies.”

It’s a flurry of ac­tiv­ity for Pfeif­fer, who says she pulled back par­tially to fo­cus on fam­ily. She and her hus­band, the TV pro­ducer David E. Kel­ley, who live in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, have two chil­dren. Now an empty-nester, Pfeif­fer has ea­gerly re­turned to reg­u­lar work. “She wasn’t on my mind be­cause she hadn’t worked for a while,” says Aronof­sky. “My cast­ing di­rec­tor men­tioned that she was in­ter­ested in work­ing again. I was im­me­di­ately ex­cited and in­ter­ested by the idea of it. It’s been a while so I wasn’t so sure where she was at. But once we started to talk, it was amaz­ing.” Aronof­sky (“Black Swan,” “Re­quiem for a Dream”), long a fan of Pfeif­fer, was im­pressed by her still sharp skills. Sweet and sen­si­tive wife

“I just wanted to ap­plaud her at dif­fer­ent times dur­ing the movie be­cause she does things that are so hard to do,” he says. “Like those things where some­one says some­thing in the moment and you’re sup­posed to re­act in the moment with sur­prise or em­bar­rass­ment and she was do­ing it take af­ter take.” Jennifer Lawrence stars in the film as the sweet and sen­si­tive wife to Javier Bar­dem’s poet. They live in beau­ti­fully nat­u­ral, labyrinthine house in the coun­try, but they are soon be­set by visi­tors, be­gin­ning with a man who shows up at the door (Ed Har­ris), who’s fol­lowed by his wife (Pfeif­fer) and then oth­ers. The movie grows in in­ten­sity with the sen­sa­tion of in­va­sion; Aronof­sky con­ceived it as a kind of al­le­gory for an over­run Mother Earth.

“I have th­ese dreams some­times,” says Pfeif­fer. “I’m in some house and I have to be some­where or I have to do some­thing and I can’t get out. I can’t find my way out. I know there’s some dis­as­ter loom­ing ahead and I know it’s com­ing and no one will lis­ten to me. This is like a re­ally, re­ally bad night­mare. It’s like your worst night­mare and you can’t wake up from it.” Af­ter her Os­carnom­i­nated break­through role in 1989’s “The Fab­u­lous Baker Boys,” Pfeif­fer be­came one of the top ac­tresses in Hol­ly­wood, string­ing to­gether a var­ied fil­mog­ra­phy in­clud­ing “Dan­ger­ous Minds,” “Bat­man Re­turns,” “The Age of In­no­cence” and “What Lies Be­neath.” That made her in­tim­i­dat­ing to her younger co-star.

“It took me two days to get over her beauty, and to go up to her and say hi,” Lawrence told re­porters at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. “She’s very nor­mal. She’s a mother. She’s a very smart woman.” She is also a still-ad­ven­tur­ous ac­tress who was will­ing to go well out of her com­fort zone for “mother!” Pfeif­fer con­sid­ers the film “a real leap of faith” since she went in with only a par­tial un­der­stand­ing of it, along with a di­rec­tor whom she says would some­times leave the cast in the dark on the finer points of the drama. “I went along with things I or­di­nar­ily would never have gone along with, like hav­ing the re­hearsal process filmed,” says Pfeif­fer. “And hon­estly, it was thrilling. It’s ex­cit­ing to, af­ter as many films as I’ve done over so many years, to have a re­ally new and unique ex­pe­ri­ence.” This story has been cor­rected to show that the ti­tle of the 1989 film is “The Fab­u­lous Baker Boys,” not “The Fa­mous Baker Boys.” — AP

File photo shows ac­tress Michelle Pfeif­fer poses for pho­tog­ra­phers at the pre­miere of the film “mother!” at the 74th edi­tion of the Venice Film Fes­ti­val in Venice, Italy. — AP

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