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The Family - Michelle Pfeiffer interview

The Family

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MICHELLE Pfeiffer talks about playing the wife of a former Mob boss and working alongside Robert De Niro in The Family.

She also talks about the things that form trigger points for anger in real-life and why she doesn’t feel like an icon. She was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. How did you go about researching your roles?
Michelle Pfeiffer: Well, we had the book [by Tonino Benacquista] for reference, which was really valuable. For me, I focused more on family and personalising it more, which was ultimately Maggie’s role in it, to protect her family at any cost.

Q. You’ve worked with both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino now. Who is the better gangster?
Michelle Pfeiffer: You can’t compare the two. I think apples and oranges, right? I didn’t really consider Tony Montana [Scarface] to be a Mafioso. He’s like a drug lord. I don’t know if there’s a difference but… in terms of my relationship with him in the film, he’s my husband. I don’t really relate to him as a mobster. He’s just someone who won’t listen to what I say and he misbehaves.

Q. You’ve been married to the mob before. In that you were attempting to get away, but here you’re every bit as ruthless as your husband. Did you enjoy embracing that type of character?
Michelle Pfeiffer: [Smiles] Well, I broke my electric toothbrush the other day in a fit of rage. No, I can’t imagine myself blowing up supermarkets! It is fun to play those kinds of parts. I loved playing Angela de Marco in Married To The Mob but I also had a lot of fun… it’s fun to kick ass and show that other dark side of yourself as well. It’s fun to explore areas that are taboo that you’re not allowed to in real life as an actor.

Q. So, how would you react to someone being rude to you in a supermarket?
Michelle Pfeiffer: Rudeness is what gets to me. Yeah. That one does get to me, I have to say. I would speak up if I see someone being rude to someone. People who are rude to waiters… I don’t like that sort of thing. People who take cuts in line… it doesn’t fly!

Q. You are obviously working with two younger actors as you’re son and daughter in the film. Did you do anything to put them at ease because of your reputation for being such a screen great?
Michelle Pfeiffer: It never occurs to me that I’d be intimidating to anybody. Maybe I should consider that… he [De Niro]’s a classic example of somebody who is iconic and who sort of effortlessly puts actors at ease the moment you meet him. I think it’s also just something that he innately does with people. So, I’m just never really aware of it. You just show up to the set and everybody is part of a team and you’re working together and supporting each other. You’ve got each other’s back. I think if everyone shows up with that attitude, then everybody has a great time, and I think the work is better as well.

Q. When you’re shooting abroad did you have time to visit the local area and be a bit of a tourist? Or is it strictly work?
Michelle Pfeiffer: I was coming back and forth so I didn’t really have any downtime when I was there. My work was pretty condensed!

Q. How long were you filming on location and how did you cope with being away from friends and family?
Michelle Pfeiffer: I was away for 10 days to two weeks at a time and I was flying back and forth over a period of a couple of months, so you do miss everybody. But fortunately they were able to work out the schedule so that I didn’t have to be away from home for longer than that.

Q. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had – and the worst?
Michelle Pfeiffer: You can’t have a favourite meal, like you can’t have a favourite movie or a favourite book or a favourite child. I’ve had some amazing meals at Nobu, I’ve got to say. It’s a fantastic restaurant. Worst meal ever? I can’t tell you that.

Read our review of The Family

Read our interview with Robert De Niro

Read our interview with Dianna Agron