INT: Virginia Madsen
Last year Virginia Madsen became a media darling after a much-lauded performance in SIDEWAYS garnered the veteran actress an Oscar nomination. A major star in the mid-80s, Madsen had most recently toiled in relative obscurity before the breakthrough role paved the way for her return to studio films. Now she's once again in demand, landing highly coveted roles in films like Robert Altman's A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. This week she can be seen alongside Harrison Ford in the thriller FIREWALL. I recently got a chance to talk to CANDYMAN bombshell about her experience making the film. Check it out.
It must feel great to be back.
Yeah, and to come back the way that I did. In fact, I was never really away, I just wasnt really on the map, you know? I was kind of like on a side street, on a detour on the edge of the map, but I never felt like I was out of the business. I just wasnt getting the kind of jobs I wanted. And when I did, they were very small, independent films that no one ever saw. This was the kind of work that I was doing, but no one was really aware of it, big time, in the industry until Sideways. And thats what they say all actors do this it just takes one job sometimes. So it was a longer journey for me to get there. But it was ok because of all the time I spent with Jack. And I needed to learn a lot, too. I went back to acting school and was studying. And I was doing a lot of things to prepare for this time. Thats what I told myself. (laughs) Im preparing for the big leagues.
And it worked out.
Yes. It worked. I think when you live with intentions, things will happen in your life. Good fortune will come to you. Opportunities will arise. And youre like, Wow, thats what I thought of two years ago. Yes, because you lived with intention and you had foresight. And youve gotta work hard to change yourself into a success. Its not just going to come to you. Now sometimes it does come to people suddenly and it just rolls right on over them and kinda messes with them. And I didnt want that to happen. I was ready for success on a long term. And so far, so good. It hasnt rolled over me yet. (laughs)
What about working with Harrison Ford? Hes a legend.
And he looks like he does on-screen. A lot of actors dont theyre smaller. Or theyre not bathed or something. Its like, Ok, that so went out with Kurt Cobain. (laughs) Or they dont communicate well. But Harrison walks in and he looks like that guy. So I just spent a lot of time just looking at him, going, Well, there he is. Love to watch him go. And then here comes Paul and hes towering and Im like, You ARE that tall. (shakes head) Married, married, married. (laughs)
Paul Bettany mentioned that you were very protective of the children on-set.
Well, I have my little boy, and Jimmy (Bennett) is a lot like my son. As a matter of fact, they became good friends on the film. Jimmy and Carly (Schroeder), the great thing about working with kids is that theyre playing make-believe. Theyre in full-on Cops and Robbers mode. So you kind of go there with them, like every day is fun, because its like a game. Its like, Ready? Lets play.
I was always scolding people for swearing. (laughs) Movies are very its a very adult environment on any movie set. Youve got one or two kids in the midst of all these big guys and theres off-color humor and Im like Shhhh stop that! Language! And I was always scolding them, just because I felt like these two kids were not like show business kids. They werent precocious yet you know how they all start referring to themselves as we and theyve worked a lot, but theyve got really good parents, these two kids. And I responded to the fast that they werent jaded. They were still innocent. I guess I didnt want showbiz to invade them. And Harrison was very protective, too.
What was your experience like making Prairie Home Companion?
Oh God, that project was so amazing. Its amazing to be working for studios again, because I hadnt worked in a studio picture since 84-85. But when asked, What did you want to come out of getting a nomination, thats what I wanted. The Altman film. I wanted to certainly take a step up and be back in the studio system and be in a better position in Hollywood, but thats the kind of movie I wouldnt have been in if Sideways hadnt happened. And to be in that group of actors Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson and Lindsay Lohan! (laughs) Isnt that great? I named all these people, and then Lindsay! And there she was. It was so great to have her a part of that. Put her into the mix, you know? And to be sitting with them as peers, thats the position I wanted to be in.
It was very exciting to work for Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson God, it was like the most amazing young director and the legend, and I was in the middle. It was like going to actor camp. And nobody had trailers. There was nothing on this movie. There was a nunnery about a block away that had rooms that were called dressing rooms, but we basically stayed in the Fitzgerald Theater in Minnesota all day long, just watching each other perform. Just watching them sing songs and dancers come on stage. Its based on that radio show A Prairie Home Companion. And Garrison (Keillor) would be up there telling bad jokes in between. John C. Reilly would start singing Elvis and the band would join in. It was just incredible.
The first day that I got there, I walked into the theater I love my job and Im always really grateful to have employment as an actor. So the first day is always as exciting as when I did Electric Dreams. So I walked in and on the stage are Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, singing. Singing! And my hairs standing on end, you know? And I sort of just sat down in the back of the theater and just cried like a baby, because I couldnt believe that I was there. Thats when it really kind of felt like the culmination of everything that Id worked for. Waiting for Sideway to come out and even starting with The Rainmaker, is when I sort of began this journey. And to sit down in that moment, it just came flooding in, the realization that yes, Id made it to where I wanted to go. All these years later. Seven years.
Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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