moment, no other 40-something actress combines so much
physical beauty and dramatic versatility as Michelle
Pfeiffer, which is why she tops every producer's list.
She has moved seamlessly between meaty, serious roles
(Dangerous Liaisons, Love Field, The Age of
Innocence, Dangerous Minds) and lighter fare
(Married to the Mob , Batman Returns,
One Fine Day). A former Miss Orange County,
Pfeiffer was a checkout girl at her local supermarket
before she took the short drive to Hollywood, where she
followed up her acting debut in an episode of Fantasy
Island with TV commercials and a string of thankless
bimbo roles. Though she was good in the very bad
Grease 2, it was as the wife of Scarface's
Tony Montana (Al
Pacino) that her stunning looks and haunting style
made a strong impression. In The Witches of Eastwick
and Married to the Mob, Pfeiffer offered
solid proof that she was more than just a gorgeous face.
Then the one-two punch of Dangerous Liaisons,
followed by some memorable writhing and torch-singing
atop the grand piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys,
clinched her mega-stardom. Her asking price went
way up with the surprising box-office success of
Dangerous Minds, which provided further evidence
that a strong female lead can mean big box office.
After marriage to thirtysomething's Peter
Horton and a clandestine affair with a
Malkovich, Pfeiffer adopted a baby daughter in 1993.
Just as she was getting the hang of diapering, the
actress met wildly successful TV writer-producer David
E. Kelley (Chicago Hope, Picket Fences,
Ally McBeal). After they married, Kelley adopted
Pfeiffer's baby, and together they co-produced a son.
Now that she has arrived, and then some, Pfeiffer has
tended to shy away from the blockbusterish roles she is
constantly offered (she turned down the titular role in
Evita to spend more time with her family) to
develop her own modest projects, like the 1997
adaptation of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, in
which she co-starred with Jessica
Lange, and forthcoming biopics of artist Georgia
O'Keeffe and '60s siren-songstress Marianne Faithfull.
1999 witnessed her starring turn in the filmization of
the best-selling novel The Deep End of the Ocean
and in the immortal role of Titania in William
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both films
sagged at the box office, prompting some to question her
choice of material. Just as her follow-on co-starring
role (opposite Bruce
Willis) in Rob Reiner's contrivance-laden romantic
dramedy The Story of Us hit theaters, Pfeiffer
announced in a Harper's Bazaar interview that she
intended to temporarily put her movie career on hold to
focus her energies on being a mom.