Michelle Pfeiffer: Into The Mind Of Michelle

Q: Has motherhood changed the way you think about your career?

A: I have to say that it colors the projects that I do because I personally want to tuck my kids in bed. When I'm considering a role, I definitely take into account, "Is it going to take me away from them?" If it is, I think about what's going on in their lives. Are they just starting a new school year? Not a great time. If it's shooting on location in summer, though, it might be an interesting place for them to come. They love to travel. Ultimately, I don't know how much energy 111 have down the line but my guess is, when my children leave the nest, I'm going to be working a whole lot because I think I'm going to have a big void to fill.

Q: Have you shied away from doing sexy movies because you're now a mom?

A: Even though it hasn't changed my taste in movies much, I do think about if they're going to get teased in school about it. Would it be embarrassing for them? Are they going to pay for my having done this scene? When my father was alive, I didn't do certain things in movies so I could avoid his wrath. Now that he's dead, it's the children. There's always some¬one to answer to.

Q: Have you shown your children any of your movies?

A: [Laughs] I tried once. I'd realized that a lot of their friends at school had seen me in movies while they themselves hadn't seen anything I'd done. I was scrambling to think of any movie that was in any way appropriate, so I showed them Grease 2. They were so bored that within 15 minutes, they were busy doing something else. At least they have good taste, right?

Q: Given how famous and wealthy you and your husband are, ever fret that your kids won't have any sense of the real world?

A: I sometimes go too far in the other direction. I don't usually tell stories about my kids because it's not fair to them, but about two years ago, my daughter's teacher couldn't wait to tell me about a discussion going on in the classroom. The word "limousine" came up and the teacher said to the class, "Who here doesn't know what the word limousine means?" The only child who raised a hand was my daughter and I thought, "I'm doing it. It's working." I'm trying to instill values, more traditional values, in them. At the same time, you're always trying not to repeat the mistakes perhaps your parents made. I'm trying to give them a little breathing room.

Q: What personal qualities do you hope your kids won't inherit from you?

A: As an adult, though not as a younger person, I've always been very careful. I've never considered myself to be terribly adventurous. I hope they don't inherit that quality. I'm somewhat more adventurous now but only a little. [Rifling through her purse] Want to see some pictures?

Q: Sure.

A: [She produces a series of snapshots of two beautiful kids] They're so divine. Isn't Claudie incredible looking? She's an old soul. Way old. This is totally his [son John Henry's] spirit, too. Without a doubt, it's his first time on the planet. Before I had children, Ellen Barkin said to me about her son, "He's getting to an age now where I can see all the hard work I put in." And you do begin to see it in their choices. They're such incredible people.

Q: They're absolutely camera-ready.

A: They're not showing any desire to do anything in show business, which I'm grateful for. At the same time, I don't see what my thing is here. I mean, this business has been so good to me, I think, "What are you so worried about? This business has only made my life better, given me opportunities that I never would have had otherwise." But, see, I feel that as lucky as I've been, other people have really stumbled. When you're younger, it is hard to find your way and stay centered in Hollywood. I know my kids are not going to act as children. That's out of the question. When they're of age, there's not much I can do about it.

Q: Getting back to your career, it's been rumored that you've been offered some of the best films around, and the list is staggering-- The Silence of the Lambs, Basic Instinct, Sleepless in Seattle, Evita, L.A. Confidential, Catwoman, which Ashley Judd is set to do. Why so many turndowns?

A: I will say that I really wanted to do Evita with Oliver Stone. To me, that was a really exciting project, especially after how visually exciting The Doors was. When they came to me, I was hugely pregnant and said, "I'd love to do this but I don't know that I really have the chops." I was unwilling to commit until I went through a lot of voice training for a long time. I did demos, too. Ultimately, when I found out the shooting schedule and that it would be in England, I realized it would mean breaking up the family unit. I would obviously have a newborn and didn't want to take the kids from their father for such a long time. It's only OK to do that in short little sprints. I actually liked the version that Madonna did, which was different from what Oliver had in mind, and I thought she did a great job.

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