Thursday night, “Extra’s” Rachel Lindsay spoke with the cast of ‘The First Lady’ at the premiere, including Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer.
In the show, Viola stars as Michelle Obama. As for what she drew her to the project, Viola said, “Showing strong women, Michelle Obama being one of them. We’re dedicated to elevated content… We’re dedicated to integrated elevated content. I want to do movies that feature women of color, I mean, we have ‘The Woman King’ coming up… We have an expansive imagination when it comes to our presence in a narrative, and this is a good chance to show that.”
Earlier this week, Davis joked that she “hiding from Michelle” during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Viola told Rachel, “Here’s the thing, with every piece of work I do, I hide afterwards. It’s all part of the job. It’s called the imposter syndrome.”
Rachel also spoke with another famous Michelle… Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Betty Ford. She learned “so much” from playing the role, saying, “We all know her founding the Betty Ford Center, a tremendous gift to the world, and she saved hundreds of thousands of lives and continues to to this day. We knew about her struggle with addiction, but what I didn’t know is there is so much more to tell about her. I didn’t know how politically active she was. I didn’t know how much trouble she caused in the White House. I loved it. She talks so openly and honestly about so many subjects, hot-button topics of the time that were really taboo. She lifted the veil of shame and gave people permission to talk about them and get the help that they needed, whether it was breast cancer, whether it was mental illness, whether it was substance abuse. She was quite formidable.”
Michelle signed onto the project before even reading the script! She commented, “Crazy, right?”
She pointed out, “It’s really not like me to do that. I torture myself over every little decision.”
Michelle was drawn to the project due to Viola’s major involvement. She added, “I’m such a huge fan.”
“I knew I was in amazing company,” Pfeiffer went on, “so I guess I just said yes.”
Pfeiffer admitted that she “got scared” about portraying Ford, explaining, “It was daunting, I just wanted to honor her in a way. I didn’t want to sensationalize anything about her. There is so much to tell about her. I didn’t want it to be all about her addiction. I didn’t want it to overshadow everything. There is so much about her.”
Michelle is about to turn 64, revealing her birthday plans include “just taking it one day at a time… I’ll probably have a quiet dinner with my husband. That’s usually what we do. That’s how I like to celebrate.”
“The First Lady” premieres April 17 on Showtime.