The Virgin Suicides may be my favorite performance of yours. I definitely think it’s your most underrated.
I do too. And it was really fucking hard! My daughter was a teenager at the time and I would call her every night screaming, “Don’t you ever fucking die!” That character had to be rendered extremely delicately so that no one could look at those girls’ suicides and say, “Well obviously it was the mother’s fault.” It was important for there to be no easy answer in terms of who could be blamed. I envisioned myself as if I were a blow-up doll with a plug in my heel, and before every scene I would pull it and deflate.
I think that’s what makes the character especially sad. You’re typically so animated onscreen, but Mrs. Lisbon looks like life has just been completely sucked out of her.
It was difficult to keep in that zone. Every once in a while I would get too lively and Sofia would have to say, “You’re filling up again!” But what a great film. And Sofia is a completely different filmmaker from her father.
What’s a core memory from working with Francis Ford Coppola on Peggy Sue Got Married?
One day he asked if I was okay with him directing me from his trailer. He had monitors in there and said he could just walky-talky directions to the assistant director. I said, “Oh, I don’t mind—you can direct from your trailer and I’ll go act from mine.” He said, “Are you telling me that every time you’re on set, I have to be?” I said yes, and he said, “Well, does that mean every time I’m on set, you have to be?” There weren’t many scenes I wasn’t in, so I agreed. I could’ve used a little more sleep on that movie, but Francis kept his part of the bargain, so I kept mine.
You famously sparred with Jeffrey Katzenberg on the set of V.I. Warchowski. You weren’t satisfied with the ending and refused to shoot it until he and the writers sent you a revised version that got your approval.
I told him if he didn’t change the ending then I would refuse to shoot it. Katzenberg and all these people at Disney said they couldn’t give an actor that kind of power, and I just said, “No? I bet you can.” Just because I agree to do a job doesn’t mean I agree to change my standards. That’s been an ongoing fight throughout my career.