• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2021: Michelle Pfeiffer, “French Exit”

Michelle Pfeiffer’s Golden Globe-nominated performance as Frances Price in French ExitThe Fabulous Baker BoysGrease 2 forty years ago, which made her the it-girl landing her roles opposite Al Pacino in Scarface, Mel Gibson in Tequila Sunset, and Jack Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick. But it was her Oscar-nominated performance in Dangerous Liaisons that made her a top Hollywood star. She followed that with another Oscar-nominated performance as a chanteuse in The Fabulous Baker Boys. And a third for Love Field.
In French Exit, she plays a recent widow experiencing ennui who travels to France to rid herself of her wealth before ending it all. Which is the antithesis of who Michele is today. She and writer-producer David E. Kelley, have been together for over twenty-five years, and like the character she plays in French Exit, they have adult children. In Kelley, Pfeiffer found her real-life soul mate and someone opposite to the husband in the movie whose money Frances sets about squandering – almost to the point of making audiences cringe. 
So what is her relationship to money? “It’s easy to say money isn’t everything when you have it,” she told HFPA journalists, “but if you ask somebody who’s really struggling they might have a different interpretation. All the characters in the film have a very different relationship with money. I would say with Frances money has always defined her. She’s the kind of person who is much less resilient in spite of all of her bravado and her self-assuredness. I think underneath it all she is the most fragile of all of the characters in the film.”
Pfeiffer once responded to a question we asked her with ‘Who do you think you are, my psychiatrist?’ As she tells us, “I always have been fairly reserved and careful about what I say, but even as careful as I am I’m still always putting my foot in my mouth. So, I might as well speak my mind – I’m going to get in trouble, either way, so yeah, but not like Frances, I’ll never come close to her.”
After being away from acting for ten years she roared back in 2017 with three acclaimed performances. So what motivated her to want to come back?
“It was never a conscious choice on my part to stop working for that long of a period of time,” she told us. Her children had become her priority and the older they got the harder it was to say yes. But when they started looking at colleges, she realized she was going to have a really hard time when they left, so she went back at first doing smaller parts, then larger ones. But now “it feels really good and I love it. I’m having a great time.”
She once had a thriving production company but she gave it up. Even though she liked the creative part of the business, developing scripts and working with writers, what she didn’t like was the financial part which created a conflict between her, the artist, and the businesswoman.
“I could feel myself losing my joy of the work. And it was exhausting me in a way. And when I ended the company, I was very happy.” Her life seems so blessed. Does she ever wonder why? “I guess because I followed my heart. When I started acting, I had no idea whether I would be successful. I didn’t know anybody in show business, I didn’t know the first thing how to go about it, and I just sort of put one foot in front of the other, and I thought well if I fail, I fail. And with my husband, when I met him I was mature enough, I was 34, and I was ready, and I chose really well.”
For the record, French Exit is her eighth Golden Globe nomination.