June 28, 2009 in Features

The Pfeiffer golden age

 
Associated Press photo

Michelle Pfeiffer
(Full-size photo)

The list of things Michelle Pfeiffer doesn’t want to hear includes this sentence: “The way I see it, your golden age was 1987 to 1993.”

And yet some of us are idiots and say it anyway.

She responds with silence. The hotel room freezes over. So, we fumble: Do you, um, think in those terms? In phases?

“No, not really,” she says softly.

An excruciating pause follows.

“Nm-mm,” she adds for emphasis, shaking her head.

More silence. Her blue eyes shimmer. She will win this staring contest.

“I sort of don’t look back.”

At all?

“No, not really,” she repeats. Then the ice thaws a bit. “I’ve always had this fear of getting stuck in the past. Becoming, like, Norma Desmond or something.”

Michelle Pfeiffer — siren of cinema, three-time Oscar nominee, the woman on the cover of People’s first-ever issue of “The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World” — is 51.

She’s been a movie star for 25 years, but no part of the job seems to work for her. Michelle Pfeiffer hates parties. She hates premieres. She mourns the loss of her privacy, though taking a five-year hiatus helped. If she had her way, she would not be in a Manhattan hotel talking about her latest movie, “Cheri,” even though it’s her first real lead role in almost a decade.

Twenty years ago she played a doe-eyed girl victimized by social predators in “Dangerous Liaisons.” Now, in another adaptation of French literature with the same director, she plays wealthy courtesan Lea de Lonval, who starts to feel the tiny ravages of time when she shacks up with a man half her age.

“Mmm,” she says, contemplating these career bookends. “Literally, the virgin and the whore. And everything in between, from then until now.”

The pfans, naturally, are excited for this movie.

“The what?” she asks.

The pfans.

“I don’t know what that is,” she says.

P-F-A-N-S. The people whose pfoolish hearts pfell pfor you, your pface, your pfilms. They’re the people in the dark reaches of blogosphere who kept talking about you while you were gone, who refer to you as “our Michelle.”

“Oh, my gosh,” she says, laughing. “Like Trekkies. I have fans. I have PUH-fans. They say things? They talk to each other? Well, you know, I’m not connected in that way. It’s probably healthier. I don’t have time, honestly.”

The birthday bunch

Mel Brooks is 83. Kathy Bates is 61. Mary Stuart Masterson is 43. John Cusack is 43. Former “American Idol” contestant Kellie Pickler is 23.

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