Suddenly, star decides it's a wrap

Movie: Working on John Waters' `Cecil B. Demented' may have been a gas for Melanie Griffith, but clearly she's running out of steam at the cast party.

November 22, 1999|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

Melanie Griffith, stick thin, all in black, a dazzling diamond crucifix against her throat, is right here in front of Planet Hollywood at the Inner Harbor.

You'd think this would be the ultimate glam fix for the nearly 400 stargazers clustered by the stage and gawking from store windows and staircases.

So, why is a mouthy band of fans asking for her hot Latin husband, Antonio Banderas?

"You want Antonio?" the movie star asks in her baby bird voice. Yes, it is her real voice.

"I want Antonio too, believe me," she says with a smile almost as bright as the mango-sized diamonds in her ears.

The only chance anyone has of seeing her studly beau tonight is to look straight up at his picture on the restaurant window. The real thing, Griffith explains, is in Israel shooting a film.

She, on the other hand, just finished one: John Waters' upcoming "Cecil B. Demented," about an independent movie director (Stephen Dorff) who kidnaps an A-list star (Griffith) to be in his movie. "Cecil" has been filming around Baltimore for the past two months.

On Friday, the former Working Girl and Waters donated a piece of clothing from the movie to Planet Hollywood's memorabilia collection. Worn by Griffith in the movie, the garment resembles a vest torn up by a dog.

During the short ceremony, fans yelled out to the celebs. Some praised Waters' cartoon cameo appearance on "The Simpsons." Others started a Stephen Dorff chant, proclaiming they would not move until they saw their idol best known for his roles in "Blade" and "I Shot Andy Warhol." He never showed.

They may have been outdone by Griffith admirers. Rowdy drunk guys in suits yelled out their hotel room numbers and tried to hand her business cards when she stepped into the crowd to toss Planet Hollywood hats.

"She has Antonio. Why would she want them?" asked Allison Nespoli, 14, from Pittsburgh. Nespoli heard about the appearance only a few minutes earlier and darted through the Gallery to buy a cheap camera, hoping to catch an Antonio moment.

The cast and crew ducked upstairs for a private wrap party after the ceremony. More mild than wild, they nibbled bruschetta and sushi and sipped champagne.

But no tiny bubbles were passing through Griffith's lips.

"I don't get wasted anymore," the 42-year-old says, sitting at a table far from other partyers. "I think I did it too much when I was younger."

She drags on a long, thin menthol. Her peachy lipstick is a little smeared, her lips themselves are far from the plush puckered image you see in her Revlon ads. Griffith, who finished a Vanity Fair shoot around 3 a.m., looks a little worn out.

The "Cecil" schedule was fast-paced and demanding, leaving little time for the actress to sightsee or relax. She did, however, take her 3-year-old daughter Stella trick-or-treating around what Griffith calls "Telegraph Hill." (Translation: Federal Hill.)

When Stella, dressed as Peter Pan, and her mega-star mom came for candy, people didn't drop their bowls of Almond Joys in shock, or compliment her on her great Melanie Griffith costume. They were simply sweet and polite, Griffith says.

While Stella did things like go to the National Aquarium at Baltimore "about 300 times," her mom was immersed in Waters' world.

"What amazed me about John is how elegant he is, how intelligent he is," she says. Waters is "different [from other directors] in the sense that he's totally crazy and not ashamed of it one bit."

Waters admires Griffith's willingness to satirize herself as a spoiled Hollywood princess in the role of Honey Whitlock.

"Melanie, I just thought, was brave enough to take the chance and had a sense of humor," Waters says.

This isn't the first time Griffith has played a movie star playing a movie star. In Woody Allen's "Celebrity," she was cast as an air-headed sexpot who is nothing like her, she says.

And what about her "Cecil" character? "I don't think of myself like Honey Whitlock. Maybe I am, but I sure hope not," she says.

But seven weeks of playing a big-screen brat, plus the frantic filming, 5 a.m. calls, and a week of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shoots have drained her.

"I want to go home so bad. I can't tell you," says Griffith, who has two other children. "I'm on a 7 o'clock flight in the morning out of here. I'm packed."

Work-induced separations from Banderas and her children are taxing, she says. This experience wasn't that bad. Banderas was in Baltimore most of the time, and it helped to have Stella here too.

So how does she deal with longer absences?

Griffith's eyes flash as she takes her cigarette from her mouth dramatically. It's clear she doesn't want to discuss that. In fact, she doesn't want to continue talking at all.

"I need a break," she says abruptly. And before anyone can yell "Cut," the movie star makes her grand exit.

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