Michelle Pfeiffer Explains How Being a Mom Played Into Her Acting Hiatus: 'It Wasn't My Plan'

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer

George Pimentel/WireImage

Michelle Pfeiffer is explaining how she came to the decision to put her career on the back burner for her family.

Speaking on DearMedia's The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast, the Scarface actress, 64, opened up about how the five-year hiatus in her career came at a time when she felt she was "in-between" types of roles.

"I was also sort of in this in-between place. I sort of didn't feel like I was really a leading lady. I wasn't a grandma yet, but I wasn't also like an ingenue," Pfeiffer recalled. "I was having babies and relocating the family was — I really underestimated what that meant."

Pfeiffer talked about moving her family — which includes TV writer and producer husband David E. Kelley, son John Henry, 27, and daughter Claudia, 29 — to Northern California and trying to navigate the requirements of acting as she shifted into family life.

"It's challenging no matter where you raise kids. I didn't set out to stop working or it wasn't my plan, but I became so difficult in terms of my prerequisites, in terms of, 'Well, where does it shoot? How long does it shoot? What time of year does it shoot? Can I bring the kids? Is it during the school year?' And then it was just too difficult to hire me, honestly. And I was okay with that."

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Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer


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Pfeiffer kept herself open to working but couldn't find anything that felt like a good fit.

"Honestly, I didn't even realize how much time had gone by, and I was kind of reading things on the way, and there was just nothing that really I liked enough that prompted me to wanna leave home, leave the kids," she noted.

"Because when they were little, when they were really small, you can just take 'em with you. I literally would take Claudia to restaurants with me and put her car seat on the table. I mean, I just took her everywhere. And then once they're in school, I just didn't want to disrupt their life and the routines that they were establishing and the friends they were making."

"And then for a while, I would just do things if they were longer shoots in the summer, and then it just became so complicated."

David E. Kelley and actress Michelle Pfeiffer attend the Television Academy's 23rd Hall of Fame induction gala at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California
David E. Kelley and actress Michelle Pfeiffer attend the Television Academy's 23rd Hall of Fame induction gala at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

"So I remember actually it was my kids. They said, 'Mom, are you ever gonna go back to work?' I said, 'What do you mean? Isn't it great that I'm home?'"

The White Oleander actress and the TV writer met on a blind date in early 1993 and instantly connected. At the time, Pfeiffer was already in the process of adopting her daughter Claudia and she and Kelley had only been dating for about two months when she brought her home.

"So we had this child with us right away, and most people don't have that. But I really got to see [Kelley] in a situation that certainly would separate the boys from the men. Obviously, he really rose to the occasion," Pfeiffer told Good Housekeeping in 2007 of the pair's early days. "We both got to see each other as parents before we progressed in our relationship together, and in a strange way, it took the pressure off, as a couple."

She continued, "It was sort of perfectly timed. I mean, it's a real testament to the kind of person he is, but also to the fact that sometimes the traditional way of doing things isn't always the best way."