Although she was solely granted third billing as a result of her lack of fame, Melanie Griffith went on to ship an indelible and Academy Award-nominated efficiency as Tess McGill in 1988’s Working Lady. The movie, directed by Mike Nichols and likewise starring Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford, was a breakthrough position for Griffith and is hailed as one of many first plausible representations of working ladies within the decade of extra.
The making of the movie would additionally mark the primary time Griffith would critically face her ongoing substance abuse points, due largely partially to a day on set which she would later recall as a “humbling, embarrassing experience,” and would lead to her checking into rehab three weeks after the shoot.
Griffith struggled with alcohol and drug habit since she was a young person
Alcohol and drug abuse was a difficulty that Griffith has battled since her teenage years in Hollywood. Griffith is the daughter of Tippi Hedren, as soon as a muse of director Alfred Hitchcock and star of his 1963 hit, The Birds. At age 14, Griffith — reportedly with the permission of her mom — started courting Don Johnson, eight years her senior. The connection lasted 4 years, with the couple marrying in January 1976 and divorcing six months later.
Even earlier than her hard-partying teenage years with Johnson, Griffith reportedly remembers consuming wine as early as age 10, and told Vanity Fair in 1994 she was not apologetic concerning the years when her days would start with vodka and finish with cocaine. “I didn’t get something I needed that I needed when I was little. I was never loved unconditionally. Coke, booze, give you a feeling, a physical sensation … a buzz inside your body that takes the place of something you should have had as a child.”
The relatively-unknown Griffith struggled to get solid within the film
Earlier than filming started, studio execs needed a widely known identify to play Tess. In line with The Hollywood Reporter, Demi Moore was initially signed on for the position however later left the mission. Cheers star Shelley Lengthy was additionally thought of for the position, as was Michelle Pfeiffer, however she was ultimately deemed too horny to play Tess.
“They didn’t even want to see me for the movie,” Griffith instructed THR in 2018. “The studio needed an even bigger identify. I imply, I wasn’t very a lot of a reputation, however I liked this position, and I knew I might do it. My story is Tess’ story.”
Finally, Griffith received an opportunity to learn for the position and gained over casting director Juliet Taylor and the movie’s director Nichols.
“She was the lady. It was virtually a visceral response,” Taylor instructed THR of Griffith’s audition. “She was adorable, funny, vulnerable, sexy — everything. And real.”
Nonetheless, though Griffith had landed her dream position, her substance abuse issues made the filming course of a troublesome one.
“There have been loads of issues that occurred on Working Lady that I did that weren’t proper,” Griffith recalled in Life Isn’t Every little thing: Mike Nichols as remembered by 150 of his closest buddies. “It was the late ‘80s. There was a lot going on party-wise in New York. There was a lot of cocaine. There was a lot of temptation.”
Nichols fined Griffith for exhibiting as much as set beneath the affect
Others concerned within the manufacturing recall Griffith being unreliable, and the crew was typically fearful she wouldn’t have the ability to carry out. In the direction of the top of the shoot, their fears have been realized when Griffith received drunk whereas taking part in pool with costar Alec Baldwin, who was not consuming.
“Then we got back to the set, I had vodka in my motor home, so I had a slug of vodka, and it mixed and made me so drunk, which I thought was really funny,” Griffith stated in Life Isn’t Every little thing. “But it wasn’t, and it was cold, and I had to walk down the stairs with Alec, and I couldn’t do it.”
Working Lady producer Douglas Wick remembered getting a name from Nichols that “Melanie was clearly high” on set. Wick reportedly realized later that Griffith was having medicine delivered to her on the set.
“Mike got so mad at me, he wouldn’t talk to me,” Griffith recalled within the guide. “Mike Haley, the first [Assistant Director], just came up and said, ‘We’re shutting down. Go home,’ and I knew I was in so much trouble. … The next morning he (Nichols) took me to breakfast and said, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to pay for last night out of your pocket. We’re not going to report you to the studio, but you have to pay for what it cost,’ and it was $80,000. They wanted to get my attention and they really did. It was a very humbling, embarrassing experience, but I learned a lot from it.”
Griffith entered rehab shortly after the film wrapped
Three weeks after the film wrapped, Griffith entered a remedy facility and credit the assistance of ex-husband Johnson, who had been sober since 1983, in championing her personal sobriety. “Don was actually waiting for me when I got out of rehab,” Griffith told Porter magazine in 2014. “We got back together; it was the most natural, perfect, loving thing.” The couple would marry for the second time in 1989, the identical yr their daughter, Fifty Shades of Gray star Dakota Johnson, was born. Nonetheless, the wedding ended 4 years later when Johnson started abusing alcohol and medicines once more.
Griffith would additionally proceed to battle with sobriety, returning to rehab in 2000 and 2009, each whereas married to actor Antonio Banderas, however all the time made positive she was there for her kids. “I was a totally functioning mom. I wasn’t like a drunk-on-the-floor, out-of-it person,” the mom of three defined to Porter. “I didn’t do some things I probably should have done but, mostly, I was there for my kids.”
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