“But none of these women would want to recognize that. In fact, they slag me off any time anybody asks what they think of me or compare them to me. It’s kind of like what a child does to their parent, they denounce you. They want to kill you off because they want their independence from you.”
T he night before the interview, Madonna went out to the mall to see “Color of Night”–no bodyguards, just one friend. She says the best film she has seen recently is “Spanking the Monkey,” an independent film that was a hit at the Sundance Festival. Before that, the last one she really loved was “The Piano.”
Knowing this, her last two choices of acting roles–“Body of Evidence” and “Dangerous Game”–make more sense. Both must have looked great on paper.
Her co-stars in “Body of Evidence” were Willem Dafoe and Joe Mantegna, both acclaimed actors (Madonna had already worked with Mantegna in David Mamet’s play “Speed-the-Plow” on Broadway). The director was Uli Edel, known for the art-house hits “Christiane F” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn.”
“I’m disappointed in it,” admits Madonna, “but I’m not sorry I did it. I think I did a good job. But I got the blame for everything. It was like I wrote it, produced it, directed it, and I was the only one acting in it, you know?”
She has two projects in development right now (she is also reported to be close to signing to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s next movie), both being written specially for her. Avoiding specifics until they’re nearer completion, all she’ll say is that she’s being very, very careful. “I don’t have the power in the film industry that I have in the music industry,” she says, explaining that even though her production company Maverick produced “Dangerous Game,” director Abel Ferrara had the final cut.
“From ‘Dick Tracy’ to ‘A League of Their Own,’ ‘Body of Evidence’ and this movie (“Dangerous Game”), I keep coming to the same conclusion: that I have to be a director. I feel like I’m constantly being double-crossed.”
And as Madonna gets older, it also becomes apparent that, for the moment at least, she hasn’t got it all. The picture painted is of a lonely, sad figure; not true, says Madonna. Her relationships are subjected to the intense scrutiny her celebrity invites, and when they end, the media find it hard to conceal their pleasure.
“When Sean (Penn) and I got divorced and he had a relationship with Robin Wright and started having children, I was forever reading stuff about how she was such a nice, sweet person and he seemed so much more happy. You know, how he’s finally found a virtuous woman to be with. They do love to pump that up. Then I broke up with Warren (Beatty), he started dating Annette and they started a family, and once again, it’s the same thing. When was he once completely lambasted for what I’m lambasted for . . . But what can you do?”
Madonna lives in a world where every casual anecdote develops a life of its own, where every quote or flip comment in every interview has been recycled again and again in other magazines, in papers and trashy, badly written biographies. Is it hard, in these circumstances, to know who your friends are?
“It’s something that happens over time. I meet lots of people and we have a lot in common and I have fun with them and stuff, and then I realize that they’re not really my friends.
“There’s that in every relationship I have, whether it’s a friendship, a lover, someone that works for me. Any time someone comes into my circle, I immediately go, ‘OK, what are their motives? What could they gain from this?’ I have a whole filing system, and I watch for it. But I’m fooled sometimes, believe me–I think people have the best interests and they don’t. It doesn’t keep me from having friends or allowing people to get close to me, but it does add a whole other layer of anxiety to the normal ones when you’re getting to know someone.”
We’re talking about Madonna’s other life, the tabloid life. I ask if her sex life is as active and imaginative as the press seems to think. “You know the answer to that question,” she says. “I don’t think that I could get any work done if I was spending all that time in bed or horizontal. The idea is ludicrous. Because I talk about sex, it’s assumed that I’m having sex and they’re quite different.”
I suggest a game: I’ll tell her a “fact” that appeared in the press or on the rumor mill, she’ll answer in one word, with no need to comment further. “You mean you’re going to ask me if they’re true or not?” she laughs, settling back into the sofa. “OK.”