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Madonna Interview : Jane

Madonna - Jane / March 2000

Myth #4: Box-Office Poison

On one of the days I visited the set of The Next Best Thing in Los Angeles, Madonna and Rupert were doing a scene where, dressed in ’30s evening wear, they danced a la Fred Astaire around the home of Rupert’s employers. Take after take, Lola sat quietly on her nanny’s lap–that is, until the director yelled “cut,” whereupon she applauded and laughed loudly as if Madonna were doing this solely to entertain her. “That was funny, Mommy!” Lola would say. “Thanks, Lola,” Madonna replied each time, giving her daughter a wink and a smile.

This is her first movie since Evita. In light of the enjoyment she seems to get from acting, I ask her why she waited three years to make another film. “Evita was such a full, all-encompassing experience, incredibly stimulating on every level. I just thought, ‘I’m never going to do another movie again unless it’s all those things.’ I’ve made too many mistakes in the past where I liked certain elements about things and I just thought, ‘Oh, it will get fixed’ and then it never did. And then I paid the price for it. I just don’t want to take those chances.”

Why do you think you haven’t been as successful in your career as an actress as you have been in music? Acting has always taken a backseat to music. I don’t think I was as scrupulous in my choices. I’ve made 10 movies now, I think half of them have been good and half of them have been shit. I’ve got two things working against me: One is that I’m really successful in another area and it’s really hard for people to let you cross over into anything else. Also, because I was in a series of really bad movies, it’s given people license to say, ‘Oh she can’t act, she can’t do this. she can’t do that.’

Why did you want to do The Next Best Thing? It’s a real statement for the 21st century. I think few people have conventional family situations. Look at me. I have a baby with somebody I’m not with. I’m really good friends with him and I value my relationship with him a great deal. When I had the baby with him I had every intention of being with him, but things didn’t work out. Would you be able to do what your character does, have a baby while not in a conventional relationship with the father? I have too much Catholic guilt. I would never be able to carry that out

Myth #5: The Jaded Cynic

Madonna’s ego. unlike a lot of celebrities’, does not require her to socialize exclusively with other famous people. At the star-studded Oscar parties we have attended, you will not find her surveying the room for more interesting people to talk to — she would rather talk to her friends. When I saw her presenting an award to Paul McCartney recently she did, however, look a little “verklempt” so I can’t help asking…

What was it like to meet him? I was probably a bit starstruck, because I didn’t really hear what he said. I thought he was hysterically funny. I don’t know how that rumor started that he came back to my apartment, but it was a strange rumor. Everyone knows I like younger men! [Note to Paul: That’s a joke. Love, Madonna.] And what about your friend Stella McCartney? When I met her she was sewing dresses and suits and selling them out of some tiny room of some third-floor walk-up in some horrible place someone dragged me to in London. I thought she was a genius. I admire her because she did not rely on her family name. She really, really works hard. People think I’m a workaholic, but I don’t know how anyone could have a line of clothes. You have to stay on top of it and you have to lick every fashion editor’s butt.

And what about Gwyneth [Paltrow]? Oh, I don’t rat on my friends. No — go ahead. She always refers to you being like an older sister, do you in turn see her as a younger sister? She’s experiencing the upsides and the downsides of being famous for the first time. That’s a lot for someone to take. I wish I could have had someone to turn to at that time in my life. I don’t think I would have taken a lot of things so personally. So I’m happy to help her. She is sophisticated for her age. Both of her parents are in the business and I think that has allowed her to see a side of things, so she’s not taking it too seriously. Mostly she just wants to know where I get my handbags. It’s funny Even though I’m 13 years older than her, girls are just girls– coveting each other’s wardrobes. ‘I want those shoes. I want that handbag. Where did you get that?’ It’s relentless.

I have time for one last question before Madonna has to return to her room to finish some writing for her new album: Having had a chance to relax in Miami, has she thought about what she’d like to achieve in the new century that she didn’t in the last one? “I looked back at the last 20 years of my life and I’ve accomplished a lot. I tend to be really hard on myself, saying, ‘I’m not good enough — you have to work harder.’ But on this vacation I had a chance to look back and relax and say, ‘Okay, you don’t have to win any races. Pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath.’ The pressure is not really coming from anyone else but myself. You look around and you see people doing things and there are always those twinges of jealousy or envy. You know about what other people have, and then I think, ‘But do you really want that life?’ And the answer is: ‘No. So shut up!'”

“I mean ‘shut up’ to myself,” she qualifies. And then she turns away and smiles.

© Jane Magazine