In her latest film, Virginia Madsen plays a mother whose closeted gay son comes home to let the family know he’s dying from AIDS complications.
The 1980s have enjoyed a recent surge in relevance, from the spectacle of Ready Player One to the nostalgia of Stranger Things. But the era remains one marked in sadness in the history of HIV, a time when the still-misunderstood virus claimed countless lives.
Actress Virginia Madsen launched to stardom in the mid-‘80s thanks to roles in Dune and Modern Girls, becoming one of Hollywood’s sexiest stars. Even as her fame rose, she was well aware of the growing tragedy. Now, as she promotes her new film, the nostalgic AIDS drama 1985, Madsen remembers the loss of life, telling press and film festival audiences about the deaths of close friends — and an uncle she never got to truly know.
“It was talked about in hushed tones,” she recalls. “People were trying to hide when they were terribly ill. If somebody developed a bad respiratory infection, people wanted to move away. Nobody knew anything. They wondered, could you get it from touching or from tears?”
Families, including her own, suffered irreparable ruptures. She recalls her uncle Chicky, who moved away from the family’s small Illinois community while Madsen was just a child.
“I didn’t know him well, but remember him as a little kid because he was extraordinarily beautiful,” Madsen says. “But he had to leave and move to San Francisco. I was robbed of knowing him because no one could accept who he was in our community.”
Continue reading HIV PLUS Magazine: HIV Time Traveler
Cara Delevingne, Dan Stevens, Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen, and Dylan Gelula have joined the cast of Bow and Arrow Entertainment’s music drama “Her Smell,” starring Elisabeth Moss. Alex Ross Perry is directing from his own script. Previously announced cast includes Amber Heard, Ashley Benson, Agyness Deyn, and Gayle Rankin.
Voltage Pictures is selling international rights at the Cannes Film Festival. Elisabeth Moss is producing alongside Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman of Bow and Arrow Entertainment, Adam Piotrowicz, and Perry. Endeavor Content is representing domestic sales for the film.
Elisabeth Moss stars as Becky Something, a maniacally destructive punk rock star and leader of the seminal all-female rock band Something She, who pushes her relationships with bandmates, family, and followers to the limit as she wages a years-long war against sobriety, while attempting to re-engage the creativity that had once led her band to massive crossover success. Delevingne will star as the leader of a new, younger female band called the Akergirls, which bursts onto the scene with Moss’ character becoming their mentor. The film features original songs written by Alicia Bognanno of Bully and Anika Pyle.
Delevingne is repped by WME, Stevens by WME, Stoltz by UTA and Landmark Artists Management, Madsen by UTA and Untitled Entertainment, Gelula by CAA and MGMT Entertainment and Darville by Paradigm and Echo Lake Entertainment.
The new film 1985 revisits a dark time in gay history, when the AIDS crisis ended so many promising lives. But actress Virginia Madsen, who plays a mother losing her son to the still-mysterious “gay cancer,” sees the film as surprisingly optimistic.
“There is a hopeful message,” she says. “It’s all right, you can be who you are. You can be questioning. You can be nonbinary. Whatever your identity is, you can stand strong in those shoes.” That may seem a buoyant takeaway from a movie built on so tragic a premise. The film, directed by Yen Tan and starring the recently out Cory Michael Smith in the lead role of Adrian, follows a closeted young man returning home to Texas from New York to share with his family that he’s dying. The film premiered at South by Southwest, has since screened at the Sarasota Film Festival, and will play at the Dallas International Film Festival in May.
The period in which the film takes place corresponds to Madsen’s days as a young actress in Hollywood. And while she enjoyed fame from roles in films like Dune, she also remembers the tragedy of the era, losing friends and family to an ailment no one yet understood. “It was terrifying, just because nobody knew anything,” she says. “If you had a friend who had those marks on his skin, it was like, ‘It’s going to happen,’ and there was nothing I could do but put my arms around them.”
Madsen lost family to the disease as well. Her uncle Chicky, who moved to San Francisco when Madsen was a child and become largely estranged from the family, died in 1989. The official line to the world was cancer, but it fell on Madsen to explain the truth to Chicky’s mother. “She didn’t know,” Madsen recalls. “She wondered, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ I just talked to her a long time and told her what I knew. I’m sure she would have loved to have been there.”
Continue reading Virginia Madsen: “We Still Need AIDS Movies”
The 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival ended over the weekend with an awards presentation and red-carpet ceremony at the Sarasota Opera House, which featured appearances by Steve Guttenberg, Virginia Madsen and Rory Kennedy. The last three also participated in Q&A sessions at the Florida Studio Theatre.
Virginia Madsen expressed her thanks for the award, noting that independent films like the festival’s 1985, in which she appears, “are about 98 percent of what I do.” “Every director is very different in the way that they work,” Madsen said. “David [O. Russell] has a different style from Francis Ford Coppola and it’s very exciting to be able to go with that, ‘cause I don’t like just being left to my own devices ‘cause, man, I’ll milk it you give me a chance. I’d rather have a strong director. I prefer really working hand in hand because if they are a very good director, then you know what they want. And they’ve gotta figure out how to get it out of you.” “It’s usually the script first,” she stressed. “I work with a lot of first-directors ‘cause most of the movies I make are very small, independent films. So I have to look at their material and then be in conversation with them to see how they visualize the film. And since most of the time I’m more experienced, I sort of want to be able to help them to make this come to reality.”
Photos from three days that Virginia attended the Film Festival have been added to the photogallery. For more festival information, you can visit the official website at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.
Actors Steve Guttenberg and Virginia Madsen spoke honestly and openly Saturday about the ups and downs of their careers in show business during two separate “In Conversation With” events as part of the 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival in the setting of Florida Studio Theatre’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Virginia Madsen, who grew up in Chicago, told her audience for the Conversation that “acting was all I ever wanted to do… I was a performer, probably, from the time I was crawling.” Interviewed by SFF creative producer Joe Neumaier, Virginia Madsen said of herself as a child, “If I went to a movie, if it was 90 minutes, I’d then take 90 minutes when I got home to act out the entire film. My mother [with whom she years later collaborated on a documentary about women in their older years] was very patient.”
Spending her childhood fascinated by older, black and white movies, often silents, she was also drawn to the classic monster movies starring actors like Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. She’s appeared over the years in a few herself, including the acclaimed Candyman but says it can be hard to find good scripts in the genre today, adding that recent hits like Get Out and A Quiet Place might change that.
Virginia Madsen recalled the the rollercoaster rides of her career with candor. After starting out in David Lynch’s epic Dune, she then spent time filming Electric Dreams in Europe. “I was living the dream,” she said ruefully. “But it didn’t stay that way for a long time.”
Continue reading Virginia Madsen: In Conversation with at the Sarasota Film Festival!