The world’s most private and enigmatic star has chosen Grazia for her most revealing interview ever. She tells Louise Gannon about her marriage, her children and her darkest moments.
Madonna is laughing. Really laughing. Life, it seems, has never been better.
I’m completely and absolutely happy like never before, she say, “I never thought I’d be like this.” It seems that becoming a wife and mother has been the ultimate reinvention for the ever-changing icon. Talking exclusively to Grazia on Wednesday, in her only UK interview to launch her latest children’s book, Madonna is relaxed, open and eager to discuss absolutely anything from her daughter’s rage in clothes to her newfound passion for spiritual enlightenment, and the loneliness that tormented her at the height of her fame.
Our first topic is her marriage. Contrary to rumours circulating round the showbusiness world, her marriage to director Guy Ritchie, whom she wed in 2000, is not in trouble – although she does confess it’s not always easy. “We have had struggles,” Madonna admits with an honesty rarely displayed by a star of her magnitude. “We’ve both done a lot of pushing. But it is an ongoing straggle if you have two people who are used to having their own way, who want to do exactly what they want when they want, which is definitely a description of me and my husband. But I think if you are a strong person, you need to be with a strong person. There is a lot of fire in the relationship, but that’s the way we both like it. It’s what we both need.’
The rumours were sparked by reports that the pressure of trying for a brother or sister for Lourdes, seven (Madonna’s daughter by her ex, Carlos Leon), and Roccom three, has put a strain on the marriage. Madonna reveals she and Guy do want another child – but only if it happens naturally. She’s not so desperate that she’s haunting every baby doctor in the world in an attempt to conceive at the age of 46. ‘Look,’ she says in her throaty transatlantic voice, ‘everybody else has made a big deal about me wanting more children. And yes, it would be nice. But my attitude and my husband’s attitude is that if we have more then we do, and if we don’t, we don’t. We have two amazing children. I couldn’t feel more lucky or more blessed than I already do.’
Madonna is used to being misunderstood. The greatest female star in the world since the 1980s, every triumph and every mistake has been a metter or public record. We’ve lived through her incredible 20-year career, her famous lovers, her stormy marriage and devastating divorce from Sean Penn, seen her blonde (and brunette) ambition and witnessed every step of her insatiable quest for fame, money and sex. The very last thing we expected (and she candidly admits that was her sentiment too) was for this wanton, driven, career-obsessed woman to end up in her forties happily married with kids and giving away millions of her own hard-earned money to support a spiritual belief system called Kabbalah. It was her study of the ancient Jewish religion that inspired her to write a series of children’s book based on its reachings and moral beliefs. The latest tome is the beautifully illustrated Lotsa De Casha, the tale of a man who just learns that money just doesn’t bring happiness. The rich, successful merchand De Casha comes to learn that only by sharing his fortune with others, and putting other people before himself, will he find true contentment. It’s an ironic choice for the world’s most famous Material Girl, whose attitude to men and money defined a whole generation of hard-nosed 1980s women. But, she admits, there is a lot of her in her new book. In many ways it is a parable of her life.
‘Oh. I’ve certainly changed,’ she says with a wry smile, ‘I never thought this would happen to me. And believe me, the change is really quite recent. I think it really started when I became a mother and that is the first time you really have to learn about putting someone else first. It has taken me a long time to realise money doesn’t bring happiness. I spent 15 years of my life put thinking about myself, thinking about everything from the point of view of: “What is in it for me?”‘