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Lange, Pfeiffer identify with family clashes of 'Acres'

September 18, 1997
Web posted at: 3:51 p.m. EDT (1951 GMT)
Lange & Pfeiffer

From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Her character's labels should read: "Handle With Care." Jessica Lange seems always to be playing people who come in badly damaged packages. In her latest work, Lange is carefully unwrapped, slowly revealed.

vxtreme "A Thousand Acres" movie trailer

"It allowed me to create basically two different characters and find the thread that connected the two," Lange says of her character, Ginny, in "A Thousand Acres." "(And then) to do it in these little subtle increments. She didn't have any big, broad strokes of emotion. She's so withheld and so repressed and actually so shut off from truth."

"A Thousand Acres" is based upon Jane Smiley's best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which in turn was inspired by Shakespeare's play "King Lear."


Academy Award-winner Jason Robards plays the patriarch of the family who offers his land to two daughters and then disowns his youngest child. Ironically, Robards has turned down several offers to play Lear.

"I've always found a way not to do it and I should do it (but) you can't fall out of bed and do Lear," Robards says.

As the apportioned land begins to divide the family, unspoken rivalries and buried secrets are unearthed. For Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Rose in this dysfunctional family tragedy, the film provided an opportunity to talk about her own family.

"A Thousand Acres" movie trailer
video icon 1.1M/28 sec. QuickTime movie

"Where you land in line with your siblings really affects the kind of person you become," Pfeiffer says. "I'm some weird combination of the three of these women because I was the eldest, so I'm very maternal, but I kind of had a big mouth."

Pfeiffer says like Rose, her own relationship with her father was at times volatile.

"We fought because I'm like him," she says. "Rose is very much like her father and I'm very much like my dad."

Lange too describes her father as charismatic and volatile.

"On it's upside, you bask in this tremendous energy and love when it's on it's positive course. When it shifts, it's terrifying, especially, I think, for a child," Lange says.

Despite the discord displayed in the film, the family created on the screen by Lange, Pfeiffer and Robards is drawing praise by critics. There's even talk of greater rewards at Oscar time.

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