Michelle Pfeiffer Interview: People Like Us Review - A Drama of Life, Death, Secrets and Lies

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PEOPLE LIKE US, a true story from DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, brings to the screen an inspiring drama of life, death, family lies, secrets, choices and hope.

PEOPLE LIKE US stars, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall D’Addario and, in his debut, is directed by Alex Kurtzman 

Written by Kurtzman along with long time writing partner Roberto Orci, who also served as producer, PEOPLE LIKE US captivates with realism. The two brought on board Jody Lambert to add fresh perspective to the once ailing screenplay and aided by a collaborative effort and input of experiences, the trio after eight years of diligent effort pitched the screenplay to DreamWorks Pictures who within three days agreed to make the film. 

DreamWorks Pictures recently hosted select members of the media for the PEOPLE LIKE US Press Day held at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Having the opportunity to participate the following is an excerpt from the Roundtable interview with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Janet Walker: How intimidating was this project for you?

Michelle Pfeiffer: Um. A little bit. I mean it’s easier doing fantasy because you kind of can’t go wrong, right? I guess you can go wrong doing anything. I mean you certainly have more leeway and you can always fall back on fall back on it’s a fantasy. And I think because I knew it was something that it was a true story there is always an onus on you when it is a true story.


You don’t want to truthful and not offend the real people. Also it was Alex’s story obviously something very personal to him, and his mother. I have this bad habit of not thinking of these things when I go into a project. I just sort of react emotionally, “Oh I like it I want to do it.” Then after I go Oh - After it started shooting, I just sort of forgot it was Alex’s story and we were just making a movie I think he probably intentionally didn’t bring that up again. It was just a great collaboration, with great actors working on a great piece of material, great director.


Janet Walker:  In the film, and there’s a couple things I noticed about the film, first of all and I’m going to preface my question with saying, “You’re very stunning.”

Michelle Pfeiffer: Thank you.

Janet Walker: And in the film . . . the film presents a worn, heavy partying . . .

Michelle Pfeiffer: Not so stunning . . .

Janet Walker: worn with life . . . I suppose . . .

Michelle Pfeiffer: weary, broken down, you can say it! (Room erupts with laughter)

Janet Walker: Good.  I’ve noticed also some of the scenes seemed to swallow you up by the oversized black glasses, the Clark Kent glasses . .

Michelle Pfeiffer: By the way those are my glasses

Janet Walker: (gasp) You were them well.

Michelle Pfeiffer: I happen to like those glasses.

Janet Walker: They look well on you. They look good. But with all of that did you watch yourself on screen and how did you feel about seeing the wornness. I mean I thought you embodied the character of that time.


Michelle Pfeiffer:  Not easy seeing yourself at your worst. None of us want anyone to see us when you just roll out of bed, and your hair is dirty and you have no make-up on and you’re puffy from whatever you’ve been doing. And that’s who she is. And I wanted to do that. I wanted to go there.  I felt like it would be liberating.


Asked by a media colleague: Was it?

Michelle Pfeiffer:  It was. Not easy but it was now that it’s done and over with. (Room erupts in laughter.)

Michelle Pfeiffer portrays Lillian Harper, the wife of legendary LA music producer Jerry Harper and mother of their only child, Sam played by Chris Pine. Pfeiffer personified the rock and roll lifestyle of a hard partying, pot smoking and heavy drinking ex-groupie. Her worn look adds authenticity as she captures the feelings related to the loss of a partner whom she loved, post funeral estate concerns, grief, boiling over emotions and the shifting of family authority lines, in addition to a life of secrets.  In the first full scene showing Ms. Pfeiffer, she remains almost hidden, swallowed by the circumstances,  in her funeral clothing and oversized Clark Kent glasses. 

Pfeiffer's role showcases her depth as she loses the glamour most associate with her and gives a stirring realistic performance sans make-up and admittedly, "not so stunning."

As it is post funeral, all the sentiment connected with death and finalities come into play and surface through the double zings, the whammy’s, the pushing of emotional buttons like only family can, the inability to understand the bequeaths or lack of them, the harsh words spoken to those loved in times of deep anguish and being held to them as well as the stress of regular life that was interrupted by the untimely death.

Having the double zing secret, Sam, (Chris Pine) is able to give as good as he gets when Lillian, unloads all the emotional hurt and anger on her son for his missed opportunities, emotional inabilities and what she perceives as lack.

Elizabeth Banks shines as the love child and lost daughter, Frankie, who questions why she wasn’t enough to keep her dad around. Her son, Josh, played by Michael Hall D’Addario, hits the mark as typical pre-teen not understanding why he’s floating, alone only with his mom, and in reality until Sam comes into their lives is being raised identically as she was.

Olivia Wilde portrays Sam’s new life love interest, Hannah, and makes the journey from New York to LA, playing the role of the dutiful and loving girlfriend, only to find Sam has posted an off limits sign on areas of his life and a person she thought she knew becomes someone she didn’t.

Bring the Kleenex! PEOPLE LIKE US is truly a tear jerker for all and especially for those with unresolved family issues, for sensitive souls and those who genuinely care.

PEOPLE LIKE US opens in theaters everywhere June 29, 2012.

“Most Doors are closed and if you want to get in you better have an interesting knock.” Jerry Harper, The Six Rules for Going Number One with a Bullet, People Like us



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