BOSS LADY

After tak­ing time off to fo­cus on fam­ily, Melanie Grif­fith is back to her work­ing-girl ways

InStyle (USA) - - Directory - by MAR­SHALL HEYMAN pho­tographed by ROB­BIE FIM­MANO styled by ALI PEW

IIt’s hard to be­lieve, but it’s been 30 years since Melanie Grif­fith’s Tess Mcgill took the Staten Is­land Ferry to her Wall Street sec­re­tar­ial job in 1988’swork­ing Girl, with Carly Si­mon’s “Let the River Run” pro­vid­ing the an­themic sound­track for her jour­ney across New York Har­bor.

Prior to the film’s re­lease, Grif­fith had seem­ingly lived plenty: her first act­ing job at 14; sex­u­ally charged scenes at 17; a mar­riage to and di­vorce from Don John­son (the first time); a sec­ond mar­riage, to Steven Bauer, re­sult­ing in her first bi­o­log­i­cal child, Alexan­der (now 33). After­work­ing Girl, while her ca­reer grew ( her per­for­mance gar­nered her an Acad­emy Award nom­i­na­tion), so did her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences. Divorc­ing Bauer, she re­mar­ried and di­vorced John­son again and then mar­ried (and later di­vorced) An­to­nio Ban­deras. There were trips to re­hab. And she gave birth to two more kids ( plus claimed a step­son, Jesse John­son, as part of her ex­tended fam­ily). Grif­fith’s daugh­ters are the ones car­ry­ing on the Hol­ly­wood le­gacy that her mother, Tippi He­dren, now 88, started. Stella, her 21-year-old with Ban­deras, is a stu­dent at USC who spent the sum­mer tak­ing act­ing classes at Stella Adler, where Grif­fith her­self had stud­ied. And Dakota, her 28-year-old with John­son, is an in­ter­na­tional su­per­star thanks to her role as Anas­ta­sia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey block­busters.

But in our na­tional col­lec­tive mem­ory, Grif­fith, who turned 61 in Au­gust, re­mains Tess from­work­ing Girl: sexy, plucky, and a poster child for out­ma­neu­ver­ing misog­y­nist pigs way be­fore the #Metoo era.“that’s fucked up,” says an amused Grif­fith when she’s re­minded over lunch near her Cen­tral Park West apart­ment that­work­ing Girl­was a full three decades ago. “I didn’t even think about that. But it was one of those amaz­ing, amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in­mylife. And peo­ple still love it so much. They tell me how much it meant to them and how it changed their lives. And a lot of women my age and younger say, ‘I saw that movie, and it gave me en­cour­age­ment to do what I wanted to do.’ ”

Does that feel good? “Hell, yeah,” Grif­fith says with a smile, out­shin­ing her two di­a­mond rings and the heavy­duty studs in each ear.

As Grif­fith dips into her tuna tartare and Parme­sansprin­kled fries, she says she al­ways knew the Mike Ni­chols– di­rected film would have an im­pact, in part be­cause mak­ing it was “magic.” Also, the is­sue of top­pling the pa­tri­archy re­mains crazily res­o­nant to­day. Grif­fith’s mother went through a lot of hell in Hol­ly­wood, es­pe­cially be­cause of her muchdis­cussed work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Al­fred Hitch­cock.

“She was men­tally abused and tor­tured by him,” ex­plains Grif­fith, “so I knew not to ever let some­body take ad­van­tage of me. And I wasn’t stupid. I’m not say­ing any of those girls are stupid, but I was aware of what was pos­si­ble.”

Though sev­eral of her early roles in­volved bar­ing her skin for the cam­era, she in­sists she never had a sit­u­a­tion where any­one tried to abuse her. “I’m sure that I had the sug­ges­tion of ‘I want to sleep with you, come over,’ but I knew bet­ter.

“If I think back, there were things that were asked, and I would just say, ‘No, I’m not do­ing it that way,’ but you had to be strong and know what you wanted,” Grif­fith con­tin­ues. “I think I al­ways had that. I was a tough chick. I wouldn’t do some­thing if I didn’t want to do it.”

This re­silience may ex­plain why, when Grif­fith ad­mits she’s think­ing about writ­ing a mem­oir and I sug­gest bor­row­ing the ti­tle­work­ing Girl, she pro­poses call­ing it­work­ing Bitchin­stead. “But I don’t want to do a corny, stupid movie-star book, you know what I mean?”

Grif­fith, who stepped out of the lime­light to raise her kids and be a wife, seems ready to get back to work again. Mar­ry­ing Ban­deras after divorc­ing John­son for the sec­ond time was “tu­mul­tuous,” Grif­fith re­calls.

Diane von Fursten­berg dress. David Webb neck­lace. Hair: Maranda for The Wall Group. Makeup: Lisa Storey for The Wall Group. Man­i­cure: Whit­ney Gib­son for TMG LA. Pro­duc­tion: Tyler Du­ur­ing for Av­enue B.

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