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7 Questions With Madonna

Madonna attends the premiere of "W.E.", hosted by the Weinstein Company and The Cinema Society, in New York, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

Is Madonna in her director persona into a little cathartic, get even, UK-guy bashing with you-know-who in W.E.? According to this gab session about the movie, the dominatrix on stage—and maybe a little off—is a fierce nonbeliever in personal love. Madonna also lets loose about about big bling, cross-continental grudges, emotional homework, hot sex in history, wrong lovers, broken hearts and her upcoming performance at the Super Bowl half-time show.

What about this story, what got you hooked? MADONNA: I first heard this story when I was in high school. It was in history class, learning about pre-war England. But I started to really get to know the details of the story when I moved to England.


You know, when I got married when I moved to England, I felt a little bit um, sort of lost. I felt like an outsider. And I felt like, okay, if I’m gonna make myself feel comfortable in this place, I want to learn about English history.

So I started reading books. I began with Henry VIII. And I worked my way up to Edward VIII. And I stopped there, because he gave up the throne for the woman he loved. And in between Henry and Edward, no one had done that.

So I thought, this is really interesting. And intriguing, and mystifying. And I want to understand the nature of their relationship. Why he would do it, what did she have, and what really took place. And what it must have felt like for her, and for him. Yeah, so that’s what started it.

Is this something you could relate to because of your own UK situation with your ex over there? M: I could, to a certain extent. Because I know that Wallace Simpson moved to England at a certain point to kind of start her life all over, when she married Ernest Simpson. And I know she felt like an outsider for quite a long time.

And she was treated like an outsider, I think for the rest of her life, really. Because once she married Edward, and once he gave up the throne for her—and she does say it in the scene around the tree—this is something she famously said: “You know, I will be the most hated woman in the world, if you do this.”

And she was. She received thousands of hate letters every day of her life after that event. And she saw the writing on the wall, and it must have been very painful for her.

And when someone gives up being king for you, then you have to make him feel like a king. For the rest of your life. And that must be hard, and challenging. However much you must love somebody.

What do you feel you learned from this whole process, and looking back is there anything you might have changed? M: I think how things happened, and how they unfurled and evolved, was how it was meant to be. I mean, I made all the choices I made, because I needed to. I obviously needed to tell that story.
Um, I think when you’re an artist and you’re doing something creative, at a certain point your practical brain sort of shuts off. And you are submitting to something. You have like, you’re channeling something.

And you can’t keep questioning the why’s, of why you want to do something. Obviously, I felt like there was something in the story, that people could relate to and connect to.

Even though I’m telling a historical, um, I’m describing a historical event. Still, I believe that the stories are accessible to all people.

What did you bring to W.E. from the men in your own life? M: I think that really, what the story is about, is that there’s no such thing as perfect love. And we all come to that very painful, um, I think discovery. At one point in our lives or another, we all have our hearts broken.

You know, we all choose the wrong people for ourselves. And we all think that one person is going to make our lives complete. And if we’re adults and we do enough self-examination, we realize that happiness really lies in our own hand.

And it isn’t until we make ourselves happy, that we’re actually whole enough to be with someone. And be in a happy relationship. So I think that’s an important message. And an important thing that Wally discovers.

And also the last question that she asks in the film—do you believe we can change our destiny—I think that’s the important question. And something that’s important to me now, relevant to me now.

You know, 10 years ago, 10 years from now, no matter where you are in your life, you can always change. You are never stuck in one place.

What films have impressed you and influenced you in making this movie? M: In one sentence!? Well I think an important film is Last Year At Marienbad. I liked the magic quality, that I was very inspired by. But from a technical filmmaking point of view, what I loved about Last Year At Marienbad, was Alan Resnais’ use of tracking shots.

He was constantly moving. And the camera was constantly gliding through those castles in Germany, where he filmed. And he was constantly filming into mirrors, and constantly tricking you. You never knew what you were looking at.

And then suddenly the camera would turn. And you would see that you weren’t actually looking at the image, but a reflection of the image. And I loved all of that. And I employed those techniques in my film.

And with La Vie En Rose, I thought the shots were so brilliant, and so beautifully choreographed, moving from room to room. And I wanted to try that as well, to see if I could do that. And I did it when she goes into the Maurice Hotel.

She goes up the steps, and she goes into the room. And she goes into one room, and then another room. And when she goes into another room, the actors, Edward and Andrea and James, are having that conversation.

And then she goes back into the other room, and it’s one long shot without any cuts. So when I saw La Vie En Rose, I just said, oh god, I wish I directed that film! So you know you really like something, when you wish you did it!

And with Amelie, I loved the magic quality of the film. And I loved the music more than anything. And I love those directors.

How about the composer of the music for W.E.? M: Yeah, he’s amazing. I’m very proud of this score. I think the music in the movie is phenomenal. And essential to the romance of the story. And I think he’s really talented, and captured the story amazingly.

You know, he has that sort of Eastern European angst about him. And I think it also connects very well with the character Evgeni who plays the piano. And who’s a composer himself. And he loves all the scores for different movies that I love. So we worked well together.

With your participation in the Super Bowl and this movie, it’s been feeling like The Month of Madonna. M: Just the month? I want more than a month! But actually, it wasn’t choreographed that way. It just worked out that way. You know, I did finish the film a while ago. It just happened that the movie is sort of coming out when the record is coming out.

And then Super Bowl came up. And I wasn’t really, I was torn about doing Superbowl. Because oh god, how can I do that, and promote my film at the same time. It’s a little bit much. But my manager talked me into it. And I’m still punishing him for that!

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