Celebrity Interview. Virginia Madsen Expresses Herself and Joins the League of Women Voters to Encourage Women to Vote

June 25, 2008 • Celebrity Style


Virginia Madsen is one of Hollywood’s most versatile and naturally beautiful actresses to date. Not only did she receive amazing reviews for her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated performance in Alexander Payne’s hit classic, SIDEWAYS, but this Independent Spirit Award-winning actress has an illustrious resume of roles alongside the most notable and respected actors in the business spanning back to the mid-80’s. 

Next up for Madsen is the Sundance hit DIMINISHED CAPACITY.  Madsen stars alongside Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda in this offbeat comedy from Plum Pictures about a man (Broderick) who teams up with his high school sweetheart (Madsen) to save his uncle (Alda) from a nursing home and buy them all a second chance at freedom—and love—in the process. The film is being released next month by IFC.

When Virginia became pregnant with her son, Jack (now 13), she put her successful career on hold. It wasn’t until Jack was in pre-school that the actress had notions of reentering into her Hollywood career. Upon hearing of Virginia’s desire to act again, Francis Ford Coppola asked her to audition for his latest project, the film version of John Grisham’s legal thriller, THE RAINMAKER, a role that reestablished Virginia’s dynamic career. 

Presently, Virginia has embarked on the Freedom of Expression through Film campaign,
sponsored by Allergan. Working with The League of Women Voters she is traveling around the country with her mother (Emmy award winner, Elaine Madsen) on a public awareness campaign aimed at educating female voters to
express themselves in life, politics and beauty.

The PSA below highlights the importance of voting and voter registration in this historic election year, supports the launch of Freedom of Expression through Film and encourages voters around the country to register to vote. For more information visit VOTE411.org, the League’s “one-stop-shop” for election information.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Virgina Madsen about her campaign and career. I was pleasantly surprised to find she was totally cool and comfortable…and as funny as many of my girlfriends. In fact, it was like talking to one of them, especially when we started talking about…clothes and beauty!

SCS: You’re from Chicago. Do you still have any family there? Do you ever visit?

VM: My dad still lives there, but I made everyone else in my family move to California with me! However, I am always looking for any excuse to go back. I just returned from Chicago having just atteneded the 75th Anniversary for SAG.

Explain the the Freedom of Expression through Film campaign you’re involved with.

VM: Allergan, the sponsor, teamed up with the League of Women Voters to encourage women to register and vote. I am doing this campaign with my mother. We go all across the US for gatherings of around 200 women to talk about all the choices women have today…including health, beauty as well as voting. You know, being the total woman and all it entails. It’s fascinating that women in their 80’s attend. These women who didn’t always have the right to vote. We take it for granted. It’s fascinating to hear their stories. Anyway, being able to do this with my mother is very personal to me and the issue of voting in this important election year was an obvious choice.

SCS: What’s the Botox connection?

VM: They are sponsoring the entire campaign. Last year I was involved with the  safety campaign for Botox and Juvederm for which I worked as well. Here’s how it all began. A couple of years ago I admitted to using Botox and the media just ran away with it. They kept saying, "Did yo mean to admit that in public? It must have been a slip." But I did. What I found most interesting though is that everyone wanted to know that I used it, but not who my doctors were. I found that strange since you need to be careful who you go to. Now people are more open about discussing Botox and fillers.

You look amazing and natural. How do you do it? Do you have any beauty advice?

VM: Exercise! Seriously. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. When my son was about 5 (now 13) I still had not lost all of the baby weight. I decided for the first time in my life I wanted to be strong, so I made a decision to dedicate myself to strength more than focusing on weight. I found a trainer, worked out with friends which was motivating and free, I started swimming and I learned to ski. Becoming athletic helped my career. It was so easy. All of a sudden I was getting noticed again.

I ran into a good friend from high school about 7 years ago who was always very athletic and she still looked amazing. She admitted to me that she used Botox. But, she wasn’t frozen faced which is what I expected. I always want a natural look. I want my son to be able to recognize me. A bonus side effect is that Botox took away my migraines too.

SCS: How do you prepare for the red carpet? Are there any designers you favor? Do you have a stylist?

VM: I have a stylist now. I don’t even go to the grocery store without consulting my stylist just in case (joking). Seriously. Back in the 80’s when I first started doing red carpets, we didn’t have stylists. I bought my own gowns, so some of my looks were tragic. There was one where I literally looked like a stuffed sausage with horrendously bad hair.

I’m really into Diane von Furstenberg for day dresses. In fact, I’m obsessed with her now. I have a lot. For the red carpet I love LA based designer Kevin Hall. Whenever I wear him I get comments. His gowns work for real women with curves. They fit like a second skin and I feel beautiful in them. I also feel like myself which is important. Another trick is to bring two pairs of shoes to red carpet events. I don’t care if you are wearing Manolo’s..after 4 hours standing in the same shoes, your feet are going to hurt. So I always bring a second pair of heels and leave them in the car for later.

SCS: If you weren’t an actress what would you be doing?

VM: I would be an elementary school teacher (she answers immediately). I would teach creative writing and art. A while back I had a nearly two year acting lull, so I volunteered at my son’s school. It was the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. More so than making a movie.

SCS: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

VM: My mother advised me to always be curious. Curious about everything.

– Lauren Dimet Waters

photos: Eddie Mills

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