“I reserve my judgement about working here again”
She came, she saw, she didn’t like it very much and then she went away again.
The Press conference to end all press conferences went off with what was more like a minor, embarrassed burp than o gigantic explosion of hot air — or tempers.
The Roof Gardens in Kensington was the setting for George Harrison — ex-Beatle and co-founder of Handmade Films — to give his first press conference since 1974, to promote his film ‘Shanghai Surprise’.
Oh yes, and Madonna was there too, looking small, stony-faced nod exceptionally beautiful, she bore photographers, and suffered Fleet Street’s finest, who were more concerned with talking about themselves and how they’ve suffered than about her or the film that started all the furore.
She even humoured Paula Yates (there with a lone ‘Tube’ film crew making a documentary on the production of the movie), who tried to upstage everybody, including the star.
If feelings towards Modonno and husband Sean Penn had not been exactly charitable since their loud entrance into the country via scuffle-bound Heathrow, this much anticipated confrontation betweent o nation’s hacks and one half of ‘loathsome’ duo, ended with sympathies flying towards the singer.
“Would you like to apologise for anything?” asks one man.
“No, I’ve nothing to apologise for,” answers Madonna flatly.
“And what about working with Mr Penn,” asks another. “Your husband,” he odds, just in case she isn’t cleer who he’s talking about. “Was it fun?”
“Of course it is,” comes the answer, but what did he think she’d say? “No, I hate the fart-faced son-of-b*tch”? I mean, really…
Penn’s absence was noted, Why wasn’t he here?
“I don’t think he’s into talking to press.” George Harrison answers deadpointly. But, after all the trouble (“which you created” points out George), would he work with Penn again? “Sure,” comes the well rehearsed reply. “I happen to like Sean very much. Apart from all the bullshit that’s been said, he’s actually a human being and he’s very nice and he’s a very talented actor. You just have to separate the two things: his job and his ability to do that job — and the sensationalism because he happens to be married to Madonna.”
She, meanwhile, sat; eyes frontwards, lips pursed, looking throughly bored, only raising on eyebrow when the Mail On Sunday’s representative replied to George Harrison calling some of his profession “animals’ with the rather witty “Talking of animals, is it true that Sean Penn…”. Maybe that hit too close to home?
The one serious point being made was that all parties must have known what fuss such an enterprise would make, and so both stars and producers could have little cause to complain. That was met with o somewhat naive, blanket denial which did naither Harrison nor Madonna any good. “Who needs that kind of publicity?” defended George, but his earlier point was probably more telling. “I did expect a certain amount of commotion,” he agreed. “But I must admit I overestimated your intelligence.”
The whole thing turned out to be the farce everyone expected it would be. The most interesting thing was reading the reports in the tabloids the next day. “Giggling and pouting,” described The Star of Madonna. She didn’t giggle once — she barely raised a smile.
One Fleet Street hack summed the whole thing up in the lift on the way down. “I just wanted to go because I like a bun fight,” he laughed. Quite.
Madonna: On George Harrison
“I wasn’t a Beatle maniac. I think I didn’t really appreciate their songs ’till I was much older. But he’s a great boss. Very understanding and very sympathetic.”
“I think he’s given me more advice on how to deal with the press than how to work on the movie.”
On “Shanghai Surprise”
“You have to think about the political climate in the US at that time (1938). There was a big depression Unemployment was at an all time high and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for a young woman. So, rather than stay home and raise children, I wanted to do something exciting with my life — so I go to Shanghai to be a missionary.”
“We didn’t actually plan on working on the film together. He (Sean) had just finished a film and was looking for another movie to do and I’d just finished working on my record and I was looking for o movie to do. I read the script and loved it and asked him to read it for his opinion. He also liked the movie role, so we looked of each other and thought maybe this would be a good one to do together.”
“The most difficult part for me is that my character goes through o transformation. I become very liberated through a relationship that grows between myself and the character that my husband plays.”
“The hardest part was where I started off. She was a character very much removed from what I am — a character that doesn’t really know how to express emotions, that keeps a lot inside and wants to say things but doesn’t quite know how to say them and is actually quite scared about a lot of things.”
“That was something that was really a challenge for me — to play someone so opposite to my own temperament.”
“I think it must be lovely somewhere. I haven’t had a lot of chance to go walking around and when I’m not working, I don’t really fancy the idea of someone following me on the street with a movie camera or whatever. I don’t relish that idea so I don’t really go out much.”
“I reserve my judgement about working here again until the picture’s finished. Sometimes you feel differently about something when it’s finished”
“I suppose some day. Not in the near future”
On the press
‘When Robert DeNiro comes into the airport, are there 20 photographers who sit on his limousine and won’t allow him to leave?”
“I don’t think Al Pacino has been hounded — or Robert — the way I’ve been.”
And regarding what they write about her? “I did in the beginning, then I stopped. It’s pointless — because it’s not tree.”
On being the new Monroe
“I don’t think anyone can borrow something from someone’s porsonality. No, I don’t consider myself that.”
On Patsy Kensit being the new Madonna
“I know of her as an actress. I’ve not heard the comparisons and no, I have nothing to soy to her.”
On music versus film
“It takes longer to make o movie than it does to make an album, therefore, I find that even if I make maybe one, or even two, movies a year, I still have severol months left to make more records than I make movies.”
And in the film? “I’m not really thinking about the musical aspects of the movie. I’m just trying to concentrate on the acting.”
GH: “At this point in time, I’m doing the music. But if she wants to, she’s welcome to — but she wasn’t hired as a musician.”
On being naked
Swedish reporter: “How is Madonna in the film? Is she, perhaps, naked?”
Modonno: “No, that is something somebody made up. There are no scenes like that. There are no naked women in the movie.”
GH: “Lots of naked men though!”
On coping with success
“I never could have imagined it could have been like this. Yes, it was a surprise, but I can handle it. I can still laugh about it, so I guess I’m all right”
© Record Mirror