Virginia Madsen ('The Astronaut Farmer')
'Still The Heart and Soul Of Acting Personified'
One of the hottest stars of the mid-80s, Virginia Madsen is one of Hollywood's most talented actresses. Audiences first caught a glimpse of her as Princess Irulan in the 1984 science fiction epic 'Dune' (1984). She followed that up with 'Electric Dreams' (1984), however, it was in 1986 that Virginia captured the hearts of the audience with an intense portrayal of a Catholic school girl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbins' 'Fire with Fire' (1986). Virginia played the role of Lisa and her co-star was Craig Sheffer. Virginia has never looked back since.
With 35+ releases since 'Fire with Fire' thus far, Virginia is a busy actress and has played a variety of roles which further enhance her reputation as a fantastic actress who can adapt to any kind of role. Virginia belongs to an acting family - with her brother Michael Madsen also an actor and her mother, Elaine Madsen, an Emmy-winning writer and producer. She is still one of the Hollywood's most beautiful and captivating actresses today.
With movies such as 'The Number 23,' 'The Ripple Effect,' 'Being Michael Madsen', 'In The Shadow of Wings,' and the just-released 'The Astronaut Farmer,' Virginia plays the wife of an Astronaut (Billy Bob Thornton). Formerly of NASA he is forced to retire so he could save his family farm. But he can't give up his dream of space travel and looks to build his own rocket, despite the government's threats to stop him.
For your role in 'The Astronaut Farmer' as the ĎÖ strong woman behind the successful man,í what first enticed you to take the project? "I like that she was a strong role and not just a silent wife standing beside her children. Not a lot of films depict families this way."
Upon reading the script did you have any questions for the directors, the Polish brothers? "No, because Iím a mother and it spoke to me on many different levels. So, no, I didnít have to ask anyone anything because I live that every single day," she laughs.
Is it true that you drew inspiration for you character from your own sisterís 30-year plus marriage? "Yes, but it was her and her family as well. Itís just the way they continue to be each others partners. His dream was always to own his own farm and thatís such a hard thing to do these days. But it worked and thatís what became part of their strong family dynamic. Itís as if it made their family stronger, brought them closer. I mean to love somebody that long Ö I mean to really love them that long is amazing. And now that the kids are grown and are out of the house theyíre probably living life like itís a second honeymoon," she laughs.
Could someone Ė in real life right here right now - seriously do what Charles Farmer did in this movie and orbit the moon Ö from a lift-off point within his barn?! "Yes, but I think theyíre doing it in smaller ways. There was that space race a couple of years ago where everybody had to orbit the earth twice and then came back down again with the winner winning $10,000,000 or something. That was going on right when we began this movie. I think Richard Branson is building one right now also. So this is definitely going on Ö private space travel. So, one day you wonít have to hitch a ride with the Russians or with NASA for $20,000,000. Youíll be able to go up for the heck of it and for a lot less."
With regard your upcoming movie, 'The Number 23,' when you undertake a role of such mental depth as Agatha Sparrow/Fabrizia do you carry that stress into a role as supposedly calmer and more serene as in Audrey Farmer in this movie? "No, Iíve been doing this since I was 18 and I learned early on to leave my work at the office. I always have to. One of the first movies I ever did I had to cry in this very tragic scene. And so I cried for like hours on end. I cried so much that the director had to remind me that I had to also cry when the camera was on. But when I saw the finished product the scene was probably about 10 seconds long. I literally only had to cry walking out of the scene, walking off camera. But it was a big moment for my character and I got a migraine headache from that. The bottom line was that I put out all of that energy and all of that sadness all over the place, and you couldnít even tell."
Indeed, how was it working with comedian Jim Carrey on your new psychological thriller, ĎThe Number 23í? "Well going in I tried not to have any expectations of Jim. I didnít know him so the only thing that was important to me was my experience working with him. And I had a wonderful experience working with him. Heís a really good actor. Heís very responsible and I could rely on him."
Did he teach you anything, perhaps? "He taught me to live dangerously on the set, acting wise. Heís got a lot of ideas, he very spontaneous. So yeah, I had a really good time with that movie also."
Finally, please tell us more about another of your forthcoming movies, the 'Ripple Effectí "Yeah, and I also directed it," she broadly smiles. "It features a beautiful performance by Forest Whitaker. Minnie Driverís in it also. I just think itís pretty daring of them and I really appreciate them coming on board for nothing."
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