Michelle Pfeiffer opens up about her family

06/23/2007 at 01:01 AM ET

Michelle500_4Michelle Pfeiffer has notoriously kept her family out of the publiceye, but she now proudly talks to Good Housekeeping in its July issue abouther and husband David E. Kelley‘s children, Claudia Rose, 14, and JohnHenry, 12, who cannot wait for their mom to receive a star on theHollywood Walk of Fame this summer. The Hairspray star, 49, talks aboutraising teens, who the "bad cop" is in the household and adoptingClaudia just as she was starting to date David.

At one point, theinterviewer recalls a "great lesson" Michelle taught her years ago whenthe actress corrected her for calling Claudia her "adopted daughter"when she is just her daughter. Michelle acknowledges that she never didit again and applauds her for that.

Here are the highlights:

On raising teens: I know, can you believe it? To tell you the truth, I feel likeit’s more difficult to be working now that they’re older, even though Ihad actually thought it would be the other way around. When they’re babies, you just sort of throwthem in the car seat and they go where you go. I mean, I literally usedto bring Claudia everywhere. In restaurants, I used to just plop herdown on the table in her car seat — she was like a centerpiece! But nowthat they’re older, they have their routines and their schedules, andtheir interests and their friends. And I don’t really want to disruptthat, because I want them to have a sense of continuity and normalcy.

How they feel about her returning to work: They’re very encouraging, because they know it makes mehappy. And also, since I haven’t been working so much, it’s not as ifthey’ve spent the past years saying to me, ‘You’re always gone.’ Andnow that they really understand more about what I do, I think they’remore curious than ever. Because frankly, in the past, they could nothave been less interested. Most people in the world have seen more ofme on-screen than my kids have.

On Claudia: Boy, there’s nothing typical about my girl. She’s a force to bereckoned with, and an amazing human being. I wanted her to be a reallyindependent, outspoken young woman, and I sure got that! She’s alsovery creative and inquisitive. And what’s exciting about this age isthat she’s really coming into her own. She’s everything I’d hoped shewould be.

On becoming a mom: Well, one thing that’s great about having kids, especially given mycareer, is that it forces you out of your narcissism. I mean, I’m in acareer where my product is me. So it was nice to have something,someone, come along and take the focus off me. I really needed to givemyself some distractions from myself.

Click below for more!

On meeting David as she was adopting Claudia: The adoption process was already in motion when he and I met. So whenshe came, he and I had only been together for about two months. So wehad this child with us right away, and most people don’t have that. ButI really got to see him in a situation that certainly would separatethe boys from the men. Obviously, he really rose to the occasion. And,you know, we were both adults. It’s not like we were kids anymore, andwe were both at the age where we were ready to start a family. So weboth got to see each other as parents before we progressed in ourrelationship together, and in a strange way, it took the pressure offus, as a couple. We had something else to focus on. It was sort ofperfectly timed. I mean, it’s a real testament to the kind of person heis, but also to the fact that sometimes the traditional way of doingthings isn’t always the best way.

On Claudia and John’s relationship: Yes, they do [get along]. They’ve been close their whole lives, and they’re closein age. But don’t get me wrong: They have their moments of siblingconflict.

On gender differences: I remember, before I had them, I didn’t really believe muchin gender differences, or that little boys were inherently all thatdifferent from little girls. But I certainly believe it now, becausewhen they were little, they couldn’t have been more different — John wasinto trucks and Claudia was into kitty cats, and he was eating bugs andshe wasn’t. But I just feel like I’ve been so blessed to have these twochildren.

On discipline: I’m probably the bad cop in the house, yeah. Because Dad is theone to say, ‘Oh, OK.’ I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I amdefinitely more of the disciplinarian, the strict one, by default.

On taking after her parents: It’s funny, because the older my kids get, the more I refer back towhat my parents did. I started out thinking, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do itthe way my parents did,’ and then as I got into parenting, Irealized — Hey, maybe they did know a little something.

On her hopes for her kids: I want them to be fighters; I want them to be survivors; I wantthem to have something they believe in, and to stay true to themselves.My grandmother raised five children during the Depression by herself.At 50, she threw her sewing machine into the back of a pickup truck anddrove from North Dakota to California. She was a real survivor, sothat’s my stock. That’s how I want my kids to be too.

What she’d change about motherhood: Oh, I’d love to get more sleep. After Claudia was born, I thought thatonce she started sleeping through the night I’d be able to catch up,but then John came along. I kept thinking that eventually the day wouldcome when I wouldn’t feel exhausted, but now I’ve come to the sadrealization that it’s not gonna happen.

On relocating the family from L.A. to northern California: Well, I think all of us miss what was familiar about living in L.A.,and, obviously, we miss our friendships. And I have a lot of familythere, so I miss them. So some of the adjustment has been hard. Butoverall, I’m really happy we made the move, and I think that it wasdefinitely the best decision for our family…Probably the biggest difference is that we don’t feel as though we haveto go to this screening or that benefit or whatever. We can spend moretime together as a family because there just aren’t as manydistractions. I really feel a huge release being up here.

On baking with John: Actually, I do bake. In fact, John and I made a cake not too longago — it was a banana cake with butter-cream frosting. It wasdisgustingly delicious. And worth every calorie!

Source: Good Housekeeping

FILED UNDER: News

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 7 comments

Tracy Bullen on

Thank you for the great piece on Michelle Pfeiffer. I’ve been a fan of hers since Grease 2 and it’s great to be able to keep up with her news. Good on you Michelle! In a world of stars who seem unreachable and totally out of touch with reality, you’ve always kept your feet firmly planted on the ground and you shine the brightest.

Chiara on

She seems like an absolutely wonderful mother.

KarenC on

I have always respected her because she keeps her children’s lives private.

greenmtx on

I’ve wondered where she’s been. Very nice interview!

Rose on

At one point, the interviewer recalls a “great lesson” Michelle taught her years ago when the actress corrected her for calling Claudia her “adopted daughter” when she is just her daughter. Michelle acknowledges that she never did it again and applauds her for that.

That is a great lesson, a lesson a lot of media could learn. I always applaud CBB for the same reason.

vince from NY on

I think Michelle is an exceptional actress and obviously a great mom. I have always looked foward to her movies because they have the class of an Icon in movies.

Catherine E. Allen on

Thank you for being real Michelle. I have always thought of you as an amazing woman. I’m sure your family does too! It will be great to see you back on the screen again, it is even more amazing knowing that you were able to focus and put your family first! God Bless you &your beautiful loving family.