Madonna said she passed on playing opposite Bruce Willis in the lackluster comedy “Blind Date” to star in “Who’s That Girl.”
“I was going to do that film, but my contract with Warners (with whom she also makes her records) gives me approval of costar, script, and director. And while I was out of town, Warners cast ‘Blind Date’ with Bruce Willis and made Blake Edwards the director. So I passed. I thought it was a dumb movie.” Making more and different movies is one of the directions Madonna would like to take in her career. “Pop stars are trapped,” she said, “because they have to keep playing the same role over and over. I don’t want that. That’s why I designed this concert now as a bunch of completely different musical numbers. I play all kind of roles on stage.”
“I want to do lots of different stage shows and movies. My next film is going to be a remake of ‘The Blue Angel’ (the picture that made Marlene Dietrich a star in 1931), but we’re setting ours in the ’50s. We’re trying to get Robert De Niro to play the role of the professor.”
Of course, Sean Penn often has been compared with the great De Niro, but when Madonna worked with her husband in last year’s “Shanghai Surprise,” the result was a critical and commercial disaster.
“It stunk,” she said. “I hated it. Sean hated it. We knew after two days it was going to be terrible. We wanted it to be a period film, but the director, Jim Goddard, wanted to shoot it fast without any production values. It was like a bad music video.”
But how could Penn, she was asked, who gave such brilliant performances in “The Falcon and the Snowman” and “At Close Range” have taken the role at all? Was he blinded by love?
“No,” Madonna said at first. Then she relented. “The truth is, we had just gotten married. Sean wasn’t supposed to do the film. He didn’t want to do the film. But he also didn’t want to spend four months away from me.”
The real shocker in Madonna’s movie career, however, was not the failure of “Shanghai Surprise” – many films starring lovers or married couples fail as they lose perspective on the script or each other. No, the stunner in Madonna’s film career was the success of “Desperately Seeking Susan,” her 1985 movie debut as a punk character who takes a couple of straight people (played by Rosanna Arquette and Mark Blum) for a joy ride into a whole new way of life.
“I had no idea it would be a hit,” she said. “I think it worked because it’s a comedy that defies description. It’s not pratfalls, like so many teenage films, and it’s not a cult art film, like ‘Down By Law.’ It’s somewhere in between.””
“My favorite scene in the movie is when I’m in the straight guy’s apartment. It’s a complete mess; I’ve eaten all the food, and we’re in bed smoking a joint. I don’t have any method of acting, but I just knew that scene was funny.”
Told that her praise of a scene involving marijuana might make some of her fans’ parents shudder, she said:
“I didn’t write the script. It’s just a role. She’s rebellious, and kids relate to that and always have.”
But is there any limit to what she would portray on screen? “Yes. I don’t condone violence, and I don’t believe I would ever play a victimized character, unless it was properly resolved by the end of the film. With hard drugs the same would have to be true.”
Madonna’s strength, and humor, is apparent in her concert as well as her conversation. “I suppose my favorite number in the show is the medley with ‘Dress You Up,’ ‘Material Girl’ and ‘Like a Virgin.'” (She appears as a nerd in a button-festooned dress, looking like she just survived a car wreck at a Woolworth’s).
“In that number I’m sticking out my tongue at those old images, at the fans and at myself,” she said. “I also like dancing real hard during ‘Papa Don’t Preach.’ I really lose myself. I’m throwing a tantrum. I’m stepping on every man who every told me to do something I didn’t want to do.”
Madonna had a difficult childhood. Her mother died of cancer when she was 6. Her father married the family housekeeper two years later.
But that’s 20 years ago. Today, she runs her own life and part of her daily life involves running, a lot of running. Here, in her words, was how she spent Friday, the day of her Soldier Field concert:
“I got up at 9 and had breakfast. I have to wait two hours for my food to digest. Then, with my trainer, I went for a run along the lakefront here. Then I came back to the hotel and ran up and down its stairs, twice (the hotel has 20 floors). After that I had a workout with pushups and situps, working out all the muscle groups. The whole workout lasted about two hours. At 2 o’clock I had lunch, a lot of fruit.”
“I left the hotel for the venue around 3:30. At 4, I began a sound check (with the other dancers and singers in the show) that lasted for an hour and a half. Then I had a vegetarian dinner prepared by my cook. From 6 to 6:30 I had a massage with my masseuse. Then I went in for makeup. Just before I went on (at 9:07 p.m.) I started dancing in my dressing room to some real loud music. Last night it was (her latest hit) ‘Causing a Commotion.’ Then I’m on. “After the show,” she said, “I jumped into the limousine, went back to the hotel, took a shower, ate mango sorbet and read ‘A Feast of Snakes,’ a novel by Harry Crews. Then I fell asleep.”
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