October 5, 2022
EP. 285 — What’s In A Scent? with Michelle Pfeiffer
Treat this episode like a spritz of your favorite fragrance. Let the beauty talk consume you. Linger on the film industry stories. Stay for the base notes of Jonathan in disbelief that our guest is literally Michelle Pfeiffer. Michelle Pfeiffer joins Jonathan to discuss the science of scent, the trade secrets harming people’s health, and how she’s modeling transparency with her company Henry Rose.
Need more Jonathan and Michelle in your life? Check out their Instagram Live from earlier this year. And stay tuned for an episode later this fall with an amazing sociologist that explores how consumer choice in beauty and other goods has become our go-to defense against toxic products—and how the US government has designed the system this way.
Michelle Pfeiffer is a three-time Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe Award winner, and Emmy nominee who has captivated film audiences with her compelling performances for over three decades. She is also the Founder and Creative Director of Henry Rose, a line of fine fragrances and personal care products that sets a new precedent for ingredient transparency.
You can follow Michelle on Instagram @michellepfeifferofficial. You can follow Henry Rose on Instagram and TikTok @henryrose.
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.
Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.
Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.
Love listening to Getting Curious? Now, you can also watch Getting Curious—on Netflix! Head to netflix.com/gettingcurious to dive in.
Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our associate producer is Zahra Crim. Our editor is Andrew Carson.
Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to TheQuinCat.com.
Getting Curious merch is available on PodSwag.com.
285 — What’s In A Scent? with Michelle Pfeiffer
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Michelle Pfeiffer
JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. You guys! [DEEP BREATH] [EXHALES] What lies beneath me right now is a lot of excitement in the depths of my Catwoman soul because one fine day has come. Today is the day we will be interviewing literally Michelle Pfeiffer, where I ask her: what’s the secret to transparent fragrance? [SOBS] Okay, I’ve got to pull it together, like, we’re literally about to interview her. [SINGS] Oh my gosh! Welcome to Getting Curious. If you’re driving right now, maybe consider pulling over. I have chills down my triceps, I am still not feeling back down to earth from the Instagram Live that we just did in real life. We have, like, someone from our dream list of guests, like, we’ve been dreaming of this, like, for a long time. We’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time. We love you so much. Welcome none other than literally Michelle Pfeiffer, who is the founder of the 100% transparent fragrance company Henry Rose. You also obviously know Michelle from iconic TV and film projects: Batman Returns, Married to the Mob, The Wizard of Lies, The First Lady, to name a few. But today we’re talking as two beauty brand founders, one of which will be asking an acting-related rapid fire later. So don’t worry about it, listeners. Like, obviously we’re going to ask just a few gorgeous acting questions because, like, it’s not like we’re not going to do that, but we’re mostly talking about beauty and fragrance with icons. Michelle Pfeiffer. Michelle, how are you?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:01:37] I’m good. I’m really good.
JVN [00:01:40] And just thank you so much for, like, sharing your morning with us and your time. We’re just, can’t even stand it. So this fall, we’re tapping into the senses on Getting Curious. And this episode is all about scent. And there’s no one better to talk to about scent than you, the founder of Henry Rose. Scent and fragrance is something that is very important to you. It’s something that is, like, a part of your daily life. You’re also an innovator when it comes to fragrance. You’re an industry change maker, which I love. When you just close your eyes and you think about joy, what’s the scent that comes to mind?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:02:10] The ingredient that brings me the most joy would be vanilla.
JVN [00:02:14] Vanilla.
JVN [00:02:29] Ah!
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:02:30] So I’ve just always loved, loved, loved vanilla and Torn from Henry Rose after it’s dried down has this very rich, woody vanilla scent, which I love. But! But recently, you know, I’ve never been a floral girl, but I am obsessed with our Flora Carnivora. And I don’t know if you’ve tried it?
JVN [00:02:55] No. Tell me, what’s the notes?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:02:57] It’s Jasmine and Turkish rose and I smell gardenia in it, although they tell me it doesn’t have that in it. But it is, I have to say, probably my favorite floral scent.
JVN [00:03:12] Sidebar. I never liked gardening, like, I always hated it, but my husband’s obsessed with it. So, like, I kind of got really into gardening in the last, like, year. And we grew sweet peas. I would have been into gardening way sooner if I would have realized that, like, fruits and vegetables, like, have a flower. Like, I’m obsessed with flowers. I just didn’t know that, like, that was a part of the equation. And now that I do, I am, like, obsessed. But sweet peas are a floral smell that, like, have you ever smelled a sweet pea?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:03:38] No! JVN [00:03:39] I tried to put it in, like, in a hair fragrance, but it didn’t, it didn’t really work. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:03:44] Oh, interesting!
JVN [00:03:45] But it’s so beautiful and, like, really light and, like, flirty and really floral. But I just, like, loved the smell. So just take that with what you will. And if you guys need to, like, work that into a Henry Rose fragrance, I will not be mad at you. And I think you’ll like it.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:03:59] I wrote it down! I wrote it down.
JVN [00:04:01] Oh, actually, I had another sidebar question: “dried down.” Is that, like, a fierce, like, fragrance founder word for, like, when we’re talking about fragrances because sometimes when they’re wet, they smell different and then when they’re, like, dry?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:04:12] Yes, yes! In fact, one of the most frustrating things for me was always I’d go into a department store and I would smell this smell and would follow my nose and I would discover a fragrance, put it on my body, and be so excited. I would fall in love with it immediately. “Oh, my God, I found my scent.” I’d buy the biggest, most expensive bottle, maybe two. An hour later, I’m walking around and it has turned on me.
JVN [00:04:40] Ahh…
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:04:42] And it’s nasty. In the meantime, I’ve just got this brand new bottle of fragrance. And that’s because you know, you have your top, your middle, and your bottom notes. And all fragrances, including ours. It’s very important to wait and, and not decide anything about it until you’ve had it on for, you know, 45 minutes. Because they say that people purchase the top note, but they keep coming back for the bottom note. And Torn is actually a really good example of the top note. I was very nervous, actually, about releasing it because the top note is, is a little sharp and a little woody, a little green. But when it dries down, that vanilla starts to come out. And the combination of that top note and that vanilla is what makes it so special. But you have to be willing to wait for the dry down for it. Take time with it. It just takes on different characteristics the longer that you wear it. It also takes on different characteristics with your own body chemistry. There are some fragrances on certain people. Our fragrances, that I’m so familiar with, that I smell on other people, I do not recognize it. And I’ll say, “Oh, my God, what are you wearing?” And they’ll say, Dark As Night. And it happens a lot. It becomes your own signature scent depending on your body chemistry.
JVN [00:06:13] I’ve definitely seen that, like, since being married. Like, if my husband and I share things, it ends up, like, we both smell a little different with the same fragrance, that’s really a very real thing.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:06:24] Yeah.
JVN [00:06:25] So then you mentioned to me when we got to do our Instagram Live that, like, I think I, like, just, like, my heart was, like, palpitating in, like, in a way that it never has. Like, it was so much. But you’re saying that, like, a lot of the scents that we go for, like things that remind us of people or, like, places in our lives. What were some of those ones in Henry Rose that, like, were evoking, like, evorking things for you?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:06:48] When I started doing this, I didn’t know anything about anything. I didn’t know about fragrance formulation. I didn’t know about ingredients. I didn’t know anything about starting a business. I didn’t know the difference between marketing and branding. There was just so much to learn. I had to learn how to speak to the perfumers in their language so that I didn’t confuse them. And they would say to me, “Don’t tell me.” But in their French accent, “Don’t tell me how you think it smells.” They would say, “Share with me. Where does it take you? What does it make you think of?” And so I realized that Torn made me think of my father’s cologne. I had no idea that’s what I was formulating. And Jake’s House was really inspired by my grandparents’ house in North Dakota. And they had fields, acres of fields of wild grass. And Fog reminded me of summers in San Francisco that sort of wet, woody, slightly peppery scent. And it’s true because the, the olfactive bulb in your brain is right next to the memory part of your brain, and they are intertwined. In fact, some say that you can’t really remember properly without smell. And people who have lost their sense of smell through some sort of accident or something like that, have real problems. They can suffer from depression, it can really set people off balance.
JVN [00:08:21] I lost my smell for two days with COVID and, like, I have never been more pissed. Like, I couldn’t taste cream puffs. I couldn’t taste cream puffs, I couldn’t eat cheesecake. Wasabi nuts tasted like fucking, like wood chips or something. I was so confused and it was like the worst two days because, like, a life without scent is just not a life for me, honey, I need to taste and smell and do all the things! Also, I am just dying to know from your earlier story, like, sometimes people freak out when they meet me and then I always am just, like, “Girl, I’m a mess,” like I’m just, like, “What are you talking about? Like, let’s take a selfie and like, let’s go get lunch together. What do you mean?” But then, like, you’re literally Michelle Pfeiffer. You’re not me. Like, I, like, still feel my heart beating. I want to be the person that Michelle Pfeiffer buys fragrance from. So fun that they’re, like, “I worked at a department store and Michelle Pfeiffer came to me to buy fragrance.” I would—, they’re probably still telling the story. But anyway, that’s not the question. Picture it. You’re back in the department store. Someone hands you a fragrance sample. How many ingredients could be in that sample? It’s not a Henry Rose sample. It’s like some other sample.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:09:27] I mean, look: the fragrance industry is notoriously shrouded in mystery. And, you know, a lot of that comes from something called trade secrets. And it’s when they don’t want to divulge their formulations, understandably, they didn’t want to be copied. There wasn’t really anything duplicitous going on. But because of that, there’s just been a complete lack of ingredient transparency. And there’s also a history, in the food industry, in the beauty industry, of some sketchy ingredients. Basically, if you don’t know what’s in something, you just can’t really be assured of its safety. Now, in those samples, “fragrance” on a label, as an ingredient, in personal care, let’s just say, can basically be comprised of any one of over 3000 ingredients and, and some of them harmful: hormone disruptors, carcinogens, allergens that really, you know, affect people. Sometimes as, as extreme as sending them to the hospital with anaphylaxis or just ruining their day, you know, maybe giving them a migraine. And there’s 30% of the population have pretty extreme allergy sensitivities. In fact, there are some workplaces that are now no fragrance zones because of that.
JVN [00:10:52] Literally, the word fragrance, when we see it on perfume, when we see it on shampoo, when we see it anywhere, fragrance can have up to 3000 ingredients in just the word “fragrance.” Because a lot of fragrances, like, need to be stabilized to stay, like, smelling like that. So sometimes it’s, like, stabilizers, sometimes it’s like parabens, sometimes it’s phthalates. And parabens and phthalates, specifically, are hormone disruptors, they’re endocrine disruptors, they’re linked to, like—, especially parabens. But it’s, like, there’s just so many things that you can put in fragrance that we just do not think about.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:11:27] Yeah! If it has a smell, it can be put in a fragrance. And there are hundreds and most likely thousands of ingredients that, that we don’t know about. And we need more testing, and in order to do more testing and to learn more about these ingredients, you know, we need more transparency. And that’s why The Environmental Working Group is constantly updating and renewing their list of hazardous ingredients.
JVN [00:11:56] So on Getting Curious, we’ve talked about skin care and hair care regulation in the US. What’s the story of fragrance regulation here and abroad?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:12:06] I, like most people, assumed if a product was on the shelf, it must have been deemed safe by the government. And that is just not true. And the truth is, the U.S. government has little or no oversight regarding labeling or restrictions. They have no power to recall products known to be unsafe, demand ingredient disclosure, deal with bad actors. They don’t know where companies are. They don’t know what’s in their products. Are products made in clean and safe environments? They don’t know when things go wrong. They literally don’t have any jurisdiction, the FDA. And in the EU bans 1328 chemicals, the U.S. bans 11. All of Henry Rose’s ingredients have been vetted against the strictest standards for health and safety, you know, and today, the Environmental Working Group and Cradle to Cradle.
JVN [00:13:09] Which, that’s so major that, that Henry Rose got both of those verifications as a fragrance company. Isn’t it the first one that got both?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:13:20] Yeah. We’re, we’re the first one that got both. And I think we are still, we are still the only one that has both.
JVN [00:13:31] First and only!
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:13:31] Yeah.
JVN [00:13:32] Yes! Can I just say slow clap? One thing for me which JVN Hair that I was really passionate about at the beginning was—and I still am—is that, like, I had this idea to formulate for hair goal versus hair type. Because one thing that I’ve learned about in marketing is that, like, like Black women, people with textured hair were, like, historically, like, left out of clean beauty formulation because, like, so much has been targeted for, like, “fine” hair or, like, “non- textured” hair. And there’s all these, like, subtle, like racial things and hair marketing that comes from, like, a lot of, like, really problematic stuff. And one of my teachers in hair school was this really fierce lady named Heather. And I’ve said this on this podcast before, but when we did our textured hair unit, where, like, it was in Minnesota. It was mostly white kids. And, like, we were going to be working on like Ethiopian and Somalian women because there’s a huge population of, like, Ethiopian and Somalian women in Minneapolis. And there’s, like, all these like little white girls from Saint Cloud, Minnesota, that were like, “What am I going to do? I don’t know how to do this hair.”
And Heather did not take kindly to that because she was, like, “Don’t pathologize people’s hair and act like you’re all, like, hair is hair is hair.” Whether it’s a Black woman’s hair, a white, it doesn’t matter. Like some types might need an extra process, might need an extra, you know, dry style, might need to do one extra thing to get the desired result. But, like, all hair is hair. And so I’ve always had this approach that, like, all hair is hair, like it doesn’t matter, like who’s
had it’s growing from which I think is so cool. But because of that, and because I wanted to formulate for hair concern versus hair type and because I didn’t want to use plastic, it took me a long time to find the right partner that would, like, allow my vision to come to fruition. And that brought the integrity and the formulation and my experience, like, in a holistic way. And I see in Henry Rose such a clear directive from you, like, what your goal was and how it went from inception to now. That is just so clear and it’s so fabulous and the product is so good. So I want to say, like, good job. I would expect nothing less of such a fucking icon. Excuse my French, but I’m just saying, like, you’re doing the damn thing and we are loving it. And if you haven’t tried Henry Rose yet, you got to get it together. Okay, so EU has much higher standards and doesn’t, like, Australia and Japan have, like, way higher standards, too?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:15:50] Yes, Mhm. Yes.
JVN [00:15:52] And then basically the other scary thing, which is very, like, a la Erin Brockovich, like, Superman’s not coming to save you. Like, the FDA has no jurisdiction to, like, do anything in the personal care space anyway.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:16:04] No. And there’s a bill right now that’s sort of being bandied about in the House and the Senate, and it’s been very confusing to kind of follow and keep track of. It’s called the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancement Act. I don’t know how they come up with these names, but it’s really a fund for drug and medical device reviews. And they’re trying to tag on something for personal care product safety. You know, it’s really the smaller brands and the individual states like California and Colorado and Maine and Maryland and these third party certifiers like EWG and Cradle To Cradle. And people buying, buying and spending their money on these products and for the brands to make sure that they perform. And if we keep doing that, there’s a groundswell and then the bigger companies follow suit. While we’re waiting for the government to do something, this is how we, how we make an impact and how we’re making an impact.
JVN [00:17:03] A hundred, yes! So Henry Rose had set itself apart by being a 100% transparent company. What does that look like in practice?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:17:12] Okay, well, to start with, we disclose 100% of the ingredients. We meet the strictest health and safety environmental standards by, like I said before, the two industry leading nonprofit organizations, Environmental Working Group and Cradle to Cradle. And the other thing that we do is through our partnership with IFF, our fragrances are made using the highest standards of both green chemistry and biodegradability. And in fact, Henry Rose really helped build the data for IFF’s Green Chemistry Assessment Tool through our collective work with EWG and Cradle to Cradle and IFF and all of our products use 90 to 100% green chemistry. 90% is really, really good. And we are at least 98% biodegradable.
JVN [00:18:02] I think the thing that really is so revolutionary about that is the listing all of your ingredients. When I was a raging vegan, I once, like, manifested these, like, vegan cookies at
an Arizona State Fair. I was, like, starving, but I was vegan and I was, like, “God, there’s no vegan food booths here.” And then all of a sudden this guy was, like, “Step right up, get your vegan cookies.” I manifested the cookies. I think I manifested this interview, too, because I became obsessed with Henry Rose. I’m a Henry Rose girl, I love it, it’s so good! But that for me as a consumer was the thing that was just—, because when I learned about trade secrets and fragrance. I have a really bad psoriasis, like, if you look at me wrong, I will have a flare up. And it used to be that like, like, I had to use, like, unscented, like, detergents, like, if I switched detergents, even if I, like, put on clothes that haven’t been washed, like, to trying them on, certain fragrances have, like, made me break out and just, like, full on and, like, my psoriasis hurts. It feels like my skin’s, like, cracking.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:19:00] That’s amazing that you’ve been able to really get that under control. That’s a, that’s a really hard one.
JVN [00:19:05] Well, I’ve really been lucky because, like, clean beauty, like eating, better stress management. Like all of those things are things that I do to kind of, like, mitigate it. But I just, I think that’s, that for me as a consumer was the thing that, like, I literally don’t use anything else.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:19:19] And the thing is you obviously have some allergies going on to the environment and to certain products and certain ingredients. There’s a documentary called Stink. And there’s a young boy in the film who’s allergic to an ingredient in a really, really popular and omnipresent fragrance that a lot of boys are using in high school. And it’s really powerful. And any time he gets near it, he goes anaphylactic. And all he wants to do is to be able to go to school. And he can’t. And as much as they try to at least get the list of ingredients, this is, like, life-threatening for this boy.
JVN [00:20:05] Yeah! MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:20:06] Because if it’s not that product, by the way, it’s going to be in
JVN [00:20:10] And it’s, like, a disability issue as well, because, like, you’re preventing people from being able to, like, safely…
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:20:15] And they cannot get the ingredient list from the brand, from the company. And, you know, it would be so liberating because then people who don’t know, who have to abstain from all fragrance, anything that has any fragrance in it whatsoever. If they knew they could be their own detective, they could begin to learn. “Oh, it’s that ingredient. Actually, all of these others are okay.” It’s really frustrating and heartbreaking for people who have these kinds of severe reactions. People who walk into a room and there’s a candle burning and their throat starts to close up.
JVN [00:20:53] Mmm. So we were talking before about how pre-Henry Rose we were not the most thoughtful consumer of fragrance. Like, we were just, like, doing our thing, like, doing it like, doing our, like, ciggies and our Coca Cola, [BRITISH ACCENT] Coca Cola and cigarettes, darling! I do think that you have such a unique experience to do this because you’ve obviously, like, I would have guessed that you’ve had, like, exposure to, like, the nicest of the nice, like, the most gorgeous fragrances and then being able to identify the problem with fragrances and wanting to create something better. You’re, like, bringing us clean, beautiful fragrances that are, like, more gorgeous than anything else. But what has that been, like, becoming a founder of not only an industry-breaking, disruptive company like Henry Rose, but, like, a successful company? What’s that like being a founder, like, I feel like you’ve just… you’re a swan in water.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:21:44] Well it’s been like beating my head against the wall for ten years. It’s not for the faint of heart, and if it were easy, everybody would do it. I’m sort of equal parts naive and courageous. And I think that my, my courage gets me into situations where I throw myself into the deep end and then I swim. And so I’ve been swimming and it’s been incredible. It’s been an incredible journey. You know, I ask myself, “If I had known what I know now, would I have done this?” Mmmmm. I know I would have, I would have done it differently. And yet I hear myself say that and there was no other way to do it. I actually tried to do the licensing deal. I thought, “Oh, well, maybe, you know, maybe this beauty company would be interested in doing this clean line with me.” Everyone I approached looked at me like I had three heads. And everyone, including my biggest advocates, told me I was going to fail. “You will never get anyone to formulate these fragrances transparently.” And so I was really lucky that IFF believed in me. And I was really lucky that I had a relationship with EWG. I was a devotee of the, of the website. So I reached out to them when I wanted to do this. And they have been just incredible advocates. And it was Ken Cook at EWG who recommended that I actually go straight to the fragrance houses, which I couldn’t even believe I was hearing him say this. And he said, you know, “The needle’s kind of moved. You might be surprised.”
JVN [00:23:25] Now you’re like a connoisseur of fragrance. Like you’re giving top, middle, bottom, you know all the fragrance things. Like, was it to like the perfumers that you were working with that kind of, like, showed you the ropes of fragrance?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:23:39] Absolutely. It was the perfumers. And literally I went to perfume class—and I would sit with, in sessions with them and they would bring out all of the ingredients which on their own don’t always smell very good. It’s really when you combine them, which surprised me. They taught me how to speak their language. They taught me about scent memory. I would trek into New York and I would spend time with them and then they would send me different modifications. Yeah, they really taught me everything I know about scent.
JVN [00:24:09] I’m so glad that you followed your instinct, did not listen to the people that said that you wouldn’t do it, and then got cheerleaders in your corner to help you bring this to
life. Thank you for doing it, because we’re all such big fans. So because we’ve talked about, like, how really this is, like, a multipronged problem because there is a void in regulation from our government, which then kind of puts the impetus on us as consumers to, like, do that research to buy the best thing that’s, like, the best for us. And then there’s also players like you and I and the clean beauty movement that are trying to make things cleaner and healthier and more beneficial for ourselves and the planet. Who do you think still needs to get involved to, like, get this space to a more transparent and healthy place?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:24:53] Well, I mean, we need the government to get involved but in the meantime, as I mentioned before, you know, the states are passing their own laws. And more and more and more consumers are demanding transparency of ingredients. They’re really looking for clean products that really perform. So there is definitely a market out there. And if we continue to prove to them that it is profitable, then the momentum will keep going. Also, you know, many of the big personal care big companies are also wanting more government regulation, which you would think wouldn’t be the case because the last thing they want is to have to start formulating state by state. You know, already they have to formulate by other standards outside of the U.S. That’s why I could never figure out why in Europe they never have any of our products.
JVN [00:25:55] That’s so true. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:25:56] Right? And it’s so weird. I’m like, “Why is that?” I just think,
“Man, government is slow. They’re just, they’re just always the last to, to catch on.”
JVN [00:26:07] They are a little busy lately, but we do need to get it together. We do need to get it together at the same time. Okay. So now we’re at our last part. Third segment, it’s rapid fire.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:17] Okay.
JVN [00:26:17] It’s fun. I can’t wait. So we’re just going to dive in. So we simply couldn’t finish this episode without asking you some questions about your acting career. So rapid fire: favorite role of all time?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:29] I think Betty Ford. JVN [00:26:31] Ah! Ohmigod, and by the way, it’s so fucking good. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:33] Thank you. JVN [00:26:34] Okay. Co-star. Fave co-star? MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:37] You know, I can’t. I can’t.
JVN [00:26:40] It’s too hard!
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:41] You know, I, yeah.
JVN [00:26:43] What about on-screen kiss? Is it Clooney? Because the one in One Fine Day, honey, it really sent nine-year-old me flying, honey! Oh, my God. Your little business outfit in the street. Oh, my God!
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:26:59] [LAUGHTER] I have to say, okay, in the script. We weren’t supposed to kiss. [JVN GASPS] And last minute, they sort of said we were going to kiss. And so I was a little verklempt. So we kissed. And then, you know, when I back up and then I sort of run into that table?
JVN [00:27:17] Yes. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:27:18] That was an accident. I, actually, that was not scripted either.
So I was a little thrown by the whole thing. It was the most unexpected kiss, I will say that.
JVN [00:27:26] I mean, how lucky. Like I think I’m lucky, you, you got to kiss George Clooney, like, oh, my God, that is like. I literally have chills on my quads and my triceps just having that part of the conversation. But I’m going back to Rapid Fire. Oh, my God. Okay. Also two, okay. So when I was formulating my questions, I really had to pare this down because What Lies Beneath and I’m not kidding you is– I use that as a like “They just don’t do movies like that anymore” where it’s like just a psychological thriller. Like it is just so good. What was, like, the scariest part of filming What Lies Beneath? Like, were you creeped out while you’re filming it? Because it was so good.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:28:09] The terrifying part for me was having to submerge myself underwater.
JVN [00:28:14] The big toe! Oh, my God, your big toe! Oh, my God. I have never been so stressed out in my life. Michelle Pfeiffer, your big toe. It was so close, it was so close.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:28:27] Yeah, I get panicked in water. I’m not a water girl. JVN [00:28:32] Did you have to stay in that bathtub for, like, so long, or did you get to, like,
get out for breaks?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:28:36] I did, I did. They did let me out for breaks. And then the scarier part was even the stuff we did in the car when the car was submerged under water, because I had I literally had to have an oxygen tank next to me. And it was claustrophobic. Yeah, I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it.
JVN [00:28:50] You are so fucking major. I can’t stand it, how major you are. Okay, non-acting rapid fire. Favorite sport?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:28:58] Baseball.
JVN [00:29:00] Favorite fruit or vegetable?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:01] Brussel sprouts.
JVN [00:29:01] Oh, I didn’t see that coming. Tree?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:04] I love gnarly olive trees. The older, the better. Love.
JVN [00:29:08] Animal?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:12] Dogs but don’t tell Bella.
JVN [00:29:20] I won’t tell her, I won’t tell her. Food?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:14] Mexican.
JVN [00:29:15] Ah! Place to visit?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:17] Italy.
JVN [00:29:18] Okay. And this is a new one that I just added, but it’s not controversial cause I’m obsessed with turquoise clear water. What’s, like, the prettiest beach you’ve ever been to.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:25] Oh, gosh. they’re all so different, you know, some of the beaches in Maine are rocky.
JVN [00:29:30] No, no, no, no, no. Like turquoise-y. Like, I can’t do that. You know, like— MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:33] Oh, that, okay! Turquoise… I think in the BVI, the British Virgin
Islands. JVN [00:29:38] Okay, we’re checking that out. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:39] Or Hawai’i, maybe Hawai’i. JVN [00:29:41] Have you ever been to the Turks and Caicos?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:29:43] Yes. Yes, once.
JVN [00:29:45] I went there for my honeymoon. It’s the prettiest beach I’ve ever seen. I’m, like, looking for one that matches that. So I thought we could end on a game where we match some of the most iconic characters you played to different scent profiles from Henry Rose Fragrances. Angela DeMarco, Married to the Mob. What’s her favorite Henry Rose?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:01] Jake’s House, I think.
JVN [00:30:04] And Velma Von Tussle from Hairspray, obviously.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:06] Oh, Flora Carnivora for sure.
JVN [00:30:08] And Countess Ellen Olenska from The Age of Innocence?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:12] Windows Down because she’s a free spirit.
JVN [00:30:15] And then Catwoman, obviously.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:17] Well, she’s a bit Torn.
JVN [00:30:18] Oh, my God. I’m going to die. I can’t believe it’s over. What’s next for you and Henry Rose?
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:26] We’ve launched our newest scent, Char, which is amber, woody tonka bean, ginger, and Moroccan orange flower. It’s yummy.
JVN [00:30:37] It sounds expensive. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:38] It’s very sexy. And, we’re in The Platform. It’s our first pop up,
which is very exciting for us. Yeah, that’s kind of new, that’s what’s going on with us.
JVN [00:30:48] I love that. And then where can people stay up to date with you? Obviously on the ‘gram.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:30:52] They can subscribe to our Henry Rose newsletter on our website. They could follow us on Instagram or TikTok.
JVN [00:30:59] We’re there. MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:31:00] Well. there you are.
JVN [00:31:02] Michelle Pfeiffer, founder of Henry Rose, most prolific actor of all time. We’re so obsessed with you. I love you so much. I can’t stand it. Thank you for coming in, sharing your time with us and your expertise with us. And just thank you for existing and being you.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:31:15] This was so fun. I want to do it again. JVN [00:31:18] Ah! We’ll hold you to that and I hope it happens. We love you so much. You’re
the best of all time.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER [00:31:22] Okay. All right. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
JVN [00:31:27] You’ve been listening to Getting Curious with me, Jonathan Van Ness. Our guest this week was Michelle Pfeiffer. You’ll find links to her work in the episode description of whatever you’re listening to the show on. Our theme music is “Freak” by Quiñ – thanks to her for letting us use it. If you enjoyed our show, honey, introduce a friend – show them how to subscribe. It’s how we keep the lights on around here! Literally, Michelle Pfeiffer! Give it up, geez! You can follow us on Instagram & Twitter @CuriousWithJVN. Our editor is Andrew Carson. Getting Curious is produced by me, Erica Getto, and Zahra Crim. And can I just say give it up for Erica Getto and Zahra Crim – we could not do any of this without them so [SINGS] give it up! Yes, yes! See you next time on Getting Curious!
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