The untold truth of Michelle Pfeiffer

Despite being a sought-after Hollywood star, Michelle Pfeiffer manages to fly mostly under the radar. Fiercely private, yet totally captivating onscreen and in person, she invites a certain intrigue that makes you wish you knew more about her. And although she tends to stay pretty buttoned up on matters both personal and professional, this much is evident — Pfeiffer has come a long way since her first role in the 1979 TV series Delta House as "the bombshell." Here are a few things you probably didn't know about the stunning star. 

She dislikes giving interviews with a passion

For an actor with such an impressive body of work, you won't find a ton of incredibly telling interviews with Pfeiffer on record. Not only is the star notoriously private, but in an interview with director Darren Aronofsky for Interview magazine, she also admitted she has a strong distaste for the idea actors should be obligated to do interviews. At the onset of her interview with Aronofsky, Pfeiffer jokingly asked, "Did anyone forewarn you that I'm maybe, like, the worst interviewee that ever was?" Then, in all seriousness, Pfeiffer detailed her typical less-than-enthusiastic approach to interviews. 

"I thought it was very clever to have you because I usually don't feel any responsibility to give up anything. I sort of bide my time until the interview is over, and I can be pretty withholding," she told Aronofsky. "But now, because I like you, I have to make an effort." 

All signs point to her suffering from imposter syndrome

Are you plagued by a nagging fear that one day the world will realize you're not good enough? That you don't necessarily deserve the success you have and any moment it may all disappear? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, you could be suffering from imposter syndrome, which is defined as "a false and sometimes crippling belief that that one's successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill." And, by that definition, it would certainly seem Pfeiffer shares the affliction. 

While speaking with Interview, the actor admitted she lives with the "constant fear" that she is a fraud and will be found out. "But 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," Pfeiffer explained

She was once in a cult

While it might sound more like the plot of a movie she'd star in than real life, Pfeiffer doesn't hide the fact that she fell prey to a cult during her early, more vulnerable acting years. "I was pretty young and very alone," she told The Telegraph. "I didn't live with them or anything — so I wasn't that far gone. Much later I did some research into cults to try to understand what had happened to me, and the way they operate is they hook people on very intellectual and existential ideas. And people who are always questioning and thinking, that kind of personality can sometimes lead to hopelessness, and that's where they get you." 

Ultimately, Pfeiffer lost most of the money she had at the time (not to mention her naivete) to her time with the cult, making it a hard-learned lesson. However, Pfeiffer did manage to find a silver lining. In her research on cults, she uncovered data stating that typically people with extremely high IQs wind up in cults. Laughing, she said of this theory, "That didn't make me feel quite so bad." 

She would love to land in a TV series

The key to getting Pfeiffer to open in interviews may just be to have fellow industry creatives do the interviewing. As part of Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Pfeiffer sat down with Sarah Jessica Parker to talk shop. After a few moments, the female powerhouses' banter led to an interesting career revelation on Pfeiffer's part. While chatting about Parker's return to television for HBO's Divorce, conversation turned to the evolution of the medium. "Television has changed so much," said Pfeiffer, "even in the last 10 years, especially for women. It's such an amazing place." 

Seeing an opening, Parker seized the opportunity to press Pfeiffer about her interest in committing to a TV series, should the right one come along. "I would love to do something in television," revealed Pfeiffer, whose early acting included a few series. "Because at this stage in my life, it actually fits really well, because I like the idea of just being in one place for awhile — I think there is a range of possibilities in television." 

She's a self-professed perfectionist with control issues

When it comes to Pfeiffer's craft, there's a driving force behind her ability to pin down the characters she plays with such precision — she's a perfectionist. Always has been, she told The Telegraph, "which has never been easy for me, or anyone else, to live with." But the actor admits her breed of perfectionism is also accompanied by some control issues, a truth she came to terms with in therapy. 

"I was kind of surprised to learn how controlling I am. I never thought of myself in that way. I think the root of the control issues is usually fear, because you want to know what's going to be happening at any given moment. So learning to accept and get comfortable with the unknown. I've gotten much better at that," Pfeiffer said, citing her kids as a major source of her progress. "I think children teach you that, too. Because you just can't control them — the more you try, the more you make matters worse. Having children has changed me more than anything." 

She's embraces the vegan lifestyle

Ever peered at Pfeiffer's flawless complexion and wondered what her secret is? Spoiler alert! It isn't the fountain of youth. But, if you ask Pfeiffer, it's the next best thing: a vegan diet. In a 2016 interview with the outlet Urbanette, the actor opened up about how much adopting the lifestyle affected her health and well-being. 

When asked specifically about her youthful, dewy skin, Pfeiffer gave credit for her glow to what she eats (and doesn't). "I definitely think it's because I'm vegan. Eating a vegan diet — it's just so much healthier — and you avoid a lot of toxins that could age your skin and your body. I really noticed a difference in my skin not too long after switching to fully vegan. And I needed to eat fruits and vegetables to stay lean. It's all about vanity, honestly," she revealed with a laugh, adding, "The older I've gotten, the more it's occurred to me that I'm doing it in order to live longer, though the vanity component will always be there." 

She once strapped on mechanical drooping breasts for a role

Pfeiffer isn't a woman afraid to undergo drastic transformation in the name of a role. Did you see 2007's Stardust? Proving her devotion to the role, she endured long hours in the makeup chair to get the perfect look. And that's not even the most extreme thing Pfeiffer did to get into character. As she told Parade, her costume for the fantastical Lamia didn't stop at a droopy face. "I even had breasts that had mechanisms that could make them droop," she said, laughing. "Talk about special effects! To be honest, it was upsetting, but I got over it pretty quickly." 

She's naturally an unabashed introvert

Just because Pfeiffer has spent her entire career in the spotlight surrounded by everyone from paparazzi to fans and film crews doesn't mean she relishes the attention. In fact, as she tells it, she'd just as soon stay home than do, well, pretty much anything else. 

In a revealing interview with Rolling Stone, the actor confessed that she probably wouldn't have any personal life if it weren't for other people pulling it out of her. Of her then-boyfriend Fisher Stevens, Pfeiffer said, "He lives out of a suitcase, he loves to travel. He's comfortable wherever he is, and I'm SO the opposite. I'd never leave my house in Los Angeles if it weren't for my work and for him. I'm a creature of habit, really; I don't like change much." 

Scary movies don't spook her, but she's terrified of the water…

If you watched Pfeiffer's 2000 film What Lies Beneath, you probably found yourself spooked out by the movie's vengeful specter. Understandably so, of course — "she" was terrifying. But, for Pfeiffer, the scorned spirit wasn't even what creeped her out. "I'm not afraid of scary movies, [but] I'm afraid of the water," she told Hollywood.com. "[And I spent] a lot of time in the bathtub. Days … weeks in the bathtub. Torture. I got through it. I'm here; I live to tell the tale." 

And while Pfeiffer overcame her fear of water, the film led to her daughter coming to terms with her own fears after she "overhead [Pfeiffer's] voice saying there's a ghost in her house." Getting her then-six-year-old daughter to understand the ghost wasn't actually real "took a lot of explaining on my part," shared Pfeiffer. 

When it comes to parenting, she's the "bad cop"

It's always interesting to be invited behind the curtain to learn what real life looks like for celebrity parents. Are they like the rest of us? How does the parenting dynamic work when mom and dad are famous? If you're Pfeiffer and her writer-producer husband David Kelley, there's a good cop and a bad cop — and Michelle doesn't deny being the disciplinarian of the two. "I'm probably the bad cop in the house, yeah. Because Dad is the one to say, 'Oh, OK.' I don't want to be the bad guy, but I am definitely more of the disciplinarian, the strict one, by default," Pfeiffer told Good Housekeeping

Plastic surgery gets too much attention, in her opinion

Rarely a day goes by when a headline about plastic surgery isn't splashed across the front page of a tabloid or entertainment site. This fixation on external beauty (artificially enhanced or otherwise) is nothing new, of course. However, it's Pfeiffer' opinion that everyone should basically just mind their own business. 

"My thoughts on plastic surgery are, I don't care. I honestly don't care if people want to go do something or just don't turn yourself into a freak. I want to be able to recognize you when I run into you on the street, that's all. Or not be distracted by something odd. I just think there's so much emphasis on it now, and really, in the scheme of things, is it really that important? Does it really deserve all that airtime?" she pointedly told Cinema Blend, adding of her personal approach to plastic surgery, "The older you get, the harder it is to say 'never.' But my feelings are, it doesn't matter." 

She has turned down some seriously iconic roles

For all of the killer roles Pfeiffer has brought to life during her so-far illustrious career, the actor admits she is at times haunted by the past ghosts of turned down roles. And real talk: Pfeiffer revealed to The Guardian that she turned down some career-changing characters. Did you know she was almost cast in Basic Instinct? What about Silence of the LambsSleepless in Seattle? The list of roles Pfeiffer said no to goes on. She explained: "I'm always inclined to talk myself out of work…. It's a strange thing that I do. I get cold feet. I overthink."

Pfeiffer insists these were decisions she made for the good of her family or due to career conflicts. Still, though, that doesn't mean the memory doesn't sometime sting. "I still can't watch Thelma & Louise," she lamented to Variety about the iconic role she rejected for another film, Love Field . "It was a direct conflict, so it was one film or the other. It still kills me. You can't always do everything. You've got to give something up."