Michelle Pfeiffer worries that ‘one day they’re going to find out I’m a fraud’

Michelle Pfeiffer is covering Interview magazine in a gold lace Valentino gown. Most outlets are focusing on her quotes about why she left Hollywood for a while, and the fact that she’s ready to come back. Michelle, 58, has four films coming out this year and her IMDB shows a four year gap, between 2013 to now. In the early 2000s she wasn’t working much either, and in Interview she reveals that’s by design because her first priority was being a mother. She said that she was “got so picky” about where and when she would work that she was “unhirable.” She says she’s ready to work now though. Her editorial with Interview is beautiful and features evocative photos in retro hotel scenes. The fashion is very 90s and we’re reminded of Pfeiffer’s heyday. The interview was conducted by director Darren Aronofsky, whom she worked with on Mother!, also starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem and out this fall.

On how she became interested in film
I’m from Orange County, Southern California, and couldn’t have been more removed from the entertainment business. In fact, I didn’t really even go to the movies much. My mother didn’t drive. My father couldn’t be bothered. So, I didn’t really go anywhere. But what I did do is I would stay up really late watching old movies on television. I can’t even tell you what they were because I was so young. But I remember watching what they were doing and saying to myself, “I can do that.”

How she started acting
In high school I took theater to avoid taking an English course because I was terrible in English. And all of the kids in the theater department were thought of as being the strange kids on campus. But I felt right at home, which meant, I suppose, that I was one of those strange kids on campus. But nobody told me. And I loved it. I ditched every other class but that one.
She was working at a supermarket but wanted to be an actress
I was really embarrassed because I thought everybody would think I was being ridiculous and arrogant.

She hates being interviewed because she feels like a fraud
I have this constant fear that I’m a fraud and that I’m going to be found out. I just got this e-mail from Steve Kloves who wrote and directed The Fabulous Baker Boys [1989], and he said, “How’s it going on Murder on the Orient Express?” which I just finished with Kenneth Branagh. And I said, “Oh, you know me. I feel like I’m ruining his movie.” Because the first week into shooting Baker Boys, I said the same thing to Steve: “I think I’m doing a terrible job in this.”

I think that’s because I started working fairly quickly and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have any formal training. I didn’t come from Juilliard. I was just getting by and learning in front of the world. So I’ve always had this feeling that one day they’re going to find out that I’m really a fraud, that I really don’t know what I’m doing.

[From Interview]

It’s hard to fathom that Michelle Pfeiffer would feel like a fraud but she does. She was sublime in Dangerous Liaisons and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Support Actress for that role. She’s won a Golden Globe and BAFTA and has been nominated two other times for an Oscar, for Best Actress for The Fabulous Baker Boys in 1989 and Love Field in 1992. All of those accolades and success haven’t changed her opinion of herself. I remember when Michelle was at the Oscars introducing Jeff Bridges for his nomination in 2010, when he won Best Actor for Crazy Heart. She opened by putting herself down, by saying that the makeup artist on Fabulous Baker Boys had to remove her flaws and paint them onto Jeff’s nose. It was shocking and memorable because she’s such a gorgeous person and yet it didn’t seem disingenuous, it was like she really believed it. I guess a lot of women have impostor syndrome and feel “less than.” We just heard Viola Davis talk about it and apparently one of the ways that people who have it cope with their feelings of inadequacy is to put themselves down, so that other people won’t call them out on being confident. This of course makes it worse for them because they’re reinforcing their negative beliefs. When I talk negatively to myself I try to imagine I’m a friend and if I would say such terrible things to a friend and I realize that no, I would be much nicer to friends and to strangers. It helps.

Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley at the Los Angeles premiere of Amazon's 'Goliath' held at the London Hotel in West Hollywood

Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley at the Los Angeles premiere of Amazon's 'Goliath' held at the London Hotel in West Hollywood

Photos credit: Pacific Coast News, Interview Magazine

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32 Responses to “Michelle Pfeiffer worries that ‘one day they’re going to find out I’m a fraud’”

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  1. Maya says:

    I love Michelle and she is not only gorgeous but also very talented.

    I am glad that she is coming back to acting..

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      All of the above!

    • naomipaige says:


    • hannah89 says:

      just want to say Michelle Pfeiffer lives nearby me in norcal…..

      She is such a genuine and ‘normal’ person for someone of her fame level & career longevity. I worked at a store she came into with her daughter. Gracious, kind, engaging: zero diva-ness. She’s the real deal folks – good actress AND more-than-decent human being.

      Also…she is insanely petite and w/ a giant GORGEOUS head. She had barely any makeup on the first time I saw her w/her daughter. A true beauty (also kind, which is what matters and outlives looks)


  2. Lucy says:

    My mom and I always sit to watch the movie she did with George Clooney and Mae Whitman all those years ago. Always.

    • Dunne says:

      ‘One Fine Day’!! I love that movie. It’s such a perfect Sunday afternoon flick 🙂

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Fun fun movie to watch with your kids when they’re just old enough to remember being that age …

    • DesertReal says:

      Oh my goodness! I have seen One Fine Day, Independence Day, and sooo many of those 90s flicks more times than I can count.
      But I’ve never realized until now that little girl is/was Mae Whitman!
      Scott Pilgrim, The Duff, etc.
      *mind blown*

  3. QueenB says:

    Its not like trained actors are better. I still think its nothing you can really learn. And Hollywood is mostly about looking sexy anyway. Also cant learn that.

    Also actors will always feel insecure. Its a profession thats not only mostly sought after by insecure people but its also insecure in terms of job security, financial security and you will never have a piece of paper that says “you can act”.

  4. Bridget says:

    She has such an amazing look and presence. Love her.

  5. tealily says:

    Michelle Pfeiffer is all of us. I loved What Lies Beneath. And, of course. Ladyhawke!

  6. Crackfox says:

    She was everything in White Oleander.

    • Dunne says:

      Yes! I thought it was a really good adaptation of the book. And she was so perfectly cast.

    • Beatrix says:

      I ADORED that movie, probably still my favorite. She was so great in it, a huge part of why the story and the rest of the casting worked. (Also, Robin Wright was phenomenal in this too.)

  7. Arlene says:

    I never saw a more beautiful woman on the planet than when she starred in Ladyhawke, she was ridiculously sublime.

  8. smcollins says:

    Michelle was my first girl crush (okay, second, after Jessica Lange in Toostie) when I saw Grease 2. As awful as that movie was (not that I noticed because I was so young) she truly stood out, and I thought she was so beautiful and mesmerizing. I think she’s a great actress and I admire a lot of her work. I’m glad she’s making a comeback, and I look forward to seeing her latest work.

  9. Penelope says:

    I’ve always liked Michelle. How many women her age (or any age) are paid tribute to in not one but TWO popular songs?? (“Uptown Funk” & “Riptide.”).

    She’s ageless, sexy, and talented.

  10. Who ARE These People? says:

    She was great in “Stardust” playing a witch – haggard, then beautiful. Both ways: fun!

  11. SusanneToo says:

    Michelle and Alec B. in Married to the Mob and Michelle and Pacino in Frankie and Johnnie. And her Catwoman. She’s done some good work.

  12. damejudi says:

    Her performance in What Lies Beneath was riveting. Great performances by the entire cast, house porn, and Pfeiffer’s incandescent beauty.

  13. geekychick says:

    Michelle, the only Catwoman I’ll ever know.
    The only hip and cool teacher.
    Every single mom dealing with challenges of a day.
    and last, but not the least, the only blondie cool enough to be one of the Eastwick witches.

  14. Fd says:

    She is one of the all time greats. She projects an inner strength combined with a surface vulnerability. She is unbelievably gorgeous but there is always something going on emotionally so she is never just that. I truly love her screen presence.

  15. KiddVicious says:

    Hollywood Knights is my favorite Michelle Pfeiffer movie. LOL She’s been in some crappy movies but she’s always good in them. I’m glad she’s back to making movies.

  16. Grant says:

    It’s so funny that she thinks she’s a fraud because literally every performance from her is iconic, from the Fabulous Baker Boys, to Catwoman, to What Lies Beneath, to Frankie and Johnny, to One Fine Day… I could go on forever. She’s amazing and I hope she wins an Oscar for Mother!

  17. Selena Castle says:

    Funny. As a woman that rose to almost the top of my profession I always felt like I didn’t deserve to be there, that I was a fraud. I was damned good at my job, I was well liked and respected, but I felt… well… like a fraud.

  18. Ennie says:

    I was awed by her beauty in Scarface, Ladyhawke, I had forgotted that movie!!!

  19. fina says:

    She still says that? She said this many times before. I can’t imagine her saying that, she is incredibly beautiful, talented, classy, intelligent, never says something wrong or disrespectful. Please stop thinking that. I don’t think there’s anybody out there who thinks you’re a fraud…

    • sunshine gold says:

      Yeah, at some point….and she’s late 50s now?….you gotta just own it, believe in yourself, cut this self-doubt crap.

  20. Wilder says:

    The Age of Innocence. She was incandescent in that.

  21. lisa says:

    Loved her acting (and singing) in Fabulous Baker Boys. Also thought she was great in “Tequila Sunrise”.

  22. Molly says:

    Yes to the comment abt her work as Ellen Olenska. Sublime.