Movies + TV

Stay Curious: An Interview With Molly Ringwald

“I felt like the most ill-equipped teenager out there.”

Collage by Minna

Collage by Minna

A few months ago I got a really nice tweet from Molly Ringwald. I was very excited, because I admire her and have kind of always wanted to be like her. I asked her if I could interview her and she said yes, so I avoided her for a month. Sometimes when I really admire someone I’m afraid to talk to them because I don’t want to embarrass myself. My dad told me I was being crazy and kind of rude so I emailed her and set a time for us to talk.

Molly Ringwald starred in some of my favorite films, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. She’s also done a lot of theater, and right now she’s on The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. Not content to limit herself to an amazing three-decade-long acting career, she’s also written two books (Getting the Pretty Back and When It Happens to You); and last week she released her first jazz album, Except Sometimes, which includes a great rendition of “Don’t You Forget About Me,” the song that plays during the opening and closing credits of The Breakfast Club.

I met Molly at R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica, and I immediately ordered a water because when I am nervous I drink water so it looks like I am doing something. She is so nice and cool, though, that she instantly put me at ease. She is actually so much more than cool but I can’t think of a more apt word to describe her. After the interview she told me she didn’t have a ride home, so my dad and I drove her. I forgot why she needed a ride but I am so glad she did, because I got to spend another 15 minutes with her. Now I know where she lives, but I won’t tell you. Actually I already forgot. Here is my interview with Molly Ringwald.


MOLLY RINGWALD: So, have you done a lot of these?

MAUDE APATOW: Not really. I get so nervous, I feel like I’m acting so crazy.

Don’t worry about it.

Thanks. OK, so…your jazz album just came out, right?

Yeah.

Was it fun to make that?

Yes! My dad’s a jazz musician, so I grew up singing jazz—I did that before I did anything else. It was like coming back to my roots. Do you sing at all?

I do, yeah. I do the school musicals.

Oh, nice!

Weren’t you in Annie? Was that your first acting job?

That was actually what kicked me into acting more than singing. Somebody heard me sing and suggested I try out for Annie, which was doing its first West Coast production. I was 10 years old and listening to the soundtrack all the time. So I flew to L.A. to audition.

What was the audition process like?

It was an open audition—you know, one of those huge cattle calls. It was exciting, but I was really shy when I was a kid—I mean, I’m still kind of shy. The only time that I wasn’t shy was when I was on stage. I was so nervous to be around all these other girls [who were auditioning]. We started out with all these [girls], and then it kept getting narrowed down over and over and I kept making the cut every time—toward the end [of the process] I think I would have been devastated if I hadn’t gotten the part. That’s why I think acting is so hard on kids. I mean, it’s hard on anyone, but especially kids.

What do you think about letting kids act?

Well, I have three kids, and I won’t let them act for exactly that reason. I feel like there’s a time when kids should just be able to be kids and be adored by everyone. And, you know, acting is really a business. But of course my eldest daughter is nine and that’s all she wants to do. Sometimes I think I’m kind of pushing her to be an actor by denying her the right to do it. [Laughter]

When you started acting, were you put in situations where you were the only kid around?

Yeah, I was always the youngest person around. For years.

How did that feel?

I loved it. It was hard for me at the time to relate to people my own age. That was sort of ironic: I became sort of like the “every teen,” representative of all teen America, but I felt like the most ill-equipped teenager out there. There were a couple of years when I was terrified to be around kids. Kids are mean!

That’s how I feel—I’ve been around so many adults that it’s scarier being around kids.

How old are you?

I’m 15.

Right, so you’re sort of getting out of the really mean stage. I think like 13, 14 for girls is the worst. I was terrified of them. And I don’t know if it’s the same now, but when I was acting during that time, it inspired so much envy and jealousy and teasing, you know? I had a tough time in school. But then later I just got so confident from what I was doing outside of school that I didn’t really care what they thought.

Do you have siblings?

I do. I have my sister, who’s three and a half years older than me, and my brother is a year and a half older than me.

Do you ever fight with them?

Oh, definitely. My sister mostly.

Sister—yeah.

You know, I think sisters just do that. We were a very close family, but looking back on it I think [dealing with my success] was hard for [my siblings]. My sister was more vocal about how upset she was about it. Because she was basically like Claire in The Breakfast Club. I kind of based a lot of stuff [for that character] on her—not her specifically, but just in that she was a really popular girl in school. She was very well-liked, and she was considered a “sosh”—that’s what they called it in her school. And I never felt that way—my closest connection to popularity was my sister. So to go from being the most popular girl in school to then having a sister who is like the most popular girl in the country—she didn’t know how to handle it. And my brother just felt kind of invisible, you know? It’s hard. It kind of messes with the balance of the family.

Right. Let’s talk about your books—you’ve written two?

Yes, actually I brought them for you!

You did? Oh, thank you!

[Pulling books out of her bag] I brought Getting the Pretty Back for you. It’s really for somebody older than you, but the pictures and a lot of the bits of advice are really fun. And I thought your mom might like this one. [Hands over a copy of When It Happens to You]

What do you get out of writing that you don’t get out of acting?

Well, first of all, you get to play all the parts, which is great. And coming from a long career of having to do what other people tell me to do, it’s nice to have control over what you’re making. I think [writing is] the most pure expression that there is. No one else really does anything to your work. I mean, they edit you, but they’re all suggested edits, so I don’t have to take them if I don’t want to. If you’re acting in somebody else’s movie, even though you can contribute and you can ad-lib and have opinions, ultimately you’re not the creator.

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40 Comments

  • Ibe. April 16th, 2013 3:13 PM

    THIS IS AMAZING.
    i just can’t evn handle this.

  • Laia April 16th, 2013 3:19 PM

    this is so cute, I love this!

  • FlowerandtheVine April 16th, 2013 3:22 PM

    Great interview! I love how down to earth Molly is. She has sort of become the patron saint of teenagers!

    http://flowerandthevine.wordpress.com

  • GlitterKitty April 16th, 2013 3:57 PM

    Ohhh Molly is just the best.

  • Ree April 16th, 2013 4:21 PM

    This made me cry a little, I love Molly (and Rookie) so much.

  • Kamila April 16th, 2013 4:24 PM

    OMG, this month. It’s killing me! First Thom Yorke (when I saw he was a “grown man” I thought my computer screen malfunctioned) and now Molly?! How Rookie can be so cool?! Oh, I can’t take it.

    (And Molly, isn’t she so nice? She seems like such an easy person to talk to!)

  • decemberbaby April 16th, 2013 4:26 PM

    “When you’re in your 20s you’re actually not that much more grown up than you are when you’re in your teen years, but everyone kind of expects you to be in this different place.”

    Oh, wow, okay, this is good to know.

  • mingxi April 16th, 2013 4:33 PM

    I AM SCREAMINGGGGGGGG

    this interview IS PURE perfection

  • Badlands April 16th, 2013 4:36 PM

    I loved this part!

    Also the introduction is probably the BEST intro to an interview (or anything) ever. Go Maude!

  • AliceS April 16th, 2013 4:37 PM

    I loved Molly before, I love her more now, even if I thought this wasn’t possible.

    http://toomuchlightburnsthenegative.blogspot.it/

  • Arabelle April 16th, 2013 4:38 PM

    this is so great thank you maude

  • Piper Lynch April 16th, 2013 4:38 PM

    Wow, this was so great! I love Molly Ringwald, and Maude Apatow did such a good job interviewing her!

  • unicornconnect April 16th, 2013 5:12 PM

    OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT’S MOLLY RINGWALD ON ROOKIE!!!!!!!!MY LIFE IS COMPLETE.

  • rats-for-candy April 16th, 2013 5:26 PM

    Ahh I was just thinking about how cool Molly is while I was in class today! Love this <3

  • Maddy April 16th, 2013 5:27 PM

    This is really fun! I love how although it was an interview, there were some parts where the roles switched. Molly sounds like a super awesome person and I wish I knew her because she’s a mom and while I wouldn’t want another mom, I’d want a “mom mentor” who’s also super hip and cool ‘n stuff.

  • Laura Lemon April 16th, 2013 5:57 PM

    Both of them are infinitely cool. Aaah!

  • Morning Moon April 16th, 2013 5:58 PM

    She’s amazing!! Love u Molly!! And your interview was great, Maude!

  • Jasmine April 16th, 2013 6:29 PM

    this is PERFECT

  • Ana April 16th, 2013 6:53 PM

    This is amazing!! :)

  • Juli April 16th, 2013 7:27 PM

    You really get a sense, in interviews like these and in her films, that Molly Ringwald is a true person. It’s refreshing to be reminded that some famous people don’t stop being themselves for the cameras. I love that so much.

  • spudzine April 16th, 2013 7:37 PM

    THIS IS JUST WOW. This is crazy becaise this past week I had the urge to watch Molly Ribgwald movies, and then BAM this shows up! She’s such a cool person honestly!!

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/
    http://emotwins.tumblr.com/

  • myy April 16th, 2013 8:21 PM

    Molly Ringwald is my hero and I am so happy she is finally on Rookie! She is such a lovely person!

    http://cactusflowerblog.blogspot.com/

  • Hannah April 16th, 2013 8:58 PM

    This is one of the most real interviews I’ve seen on this site, and I adore it. It feels like you just had a nice conversation and it’s perfect.

  • llamalina April 16th, 2013 9:17 PM

    i love maude apatow and i love molly ringwald and this is just perfect.

    llamalina.blogspot.com

  • Chloe22 April 16th, 2013 9:31 PM

    I love this so much! If I was Molly I would have stolen all of those clothes from Pretty In Pink… I need that prom dressssss. Maude’s interviews are so interesting. Not all that boring stuff about who someone’s dating or whatever. It’s actually a conversation.
    http://rhinestonemoon.blogspot.com/

  • Eryn April 16th, 2013 9:46 PM

    IS THIS REAL LIFE
    (I kind of freaked out when I saw the title… I had to read it a couple times to be sure).
    This is wonderful and scrumptious fantastic.

  • anton April 17th, 2013 12:32 AM

    She is so amazing! <3 and this interview was super fun to read!

  • Tara A. April 17th, 2013 7:12 AM

    This was so great and so much fun to read! I love Maude’s interviews :D

    http://www.unlockingpandorasbox.blogspot.com

  • Emma S. April 17th, 2013 8:38 AM

    Perfection.

  • whatever April 17th, 2013 2:37 PM

    molly is amazing ♡♡♡ i can’t even handle how great this interview is asdfghjkl

    (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧
    http://teenmoonwitch.blogspot.co.uk/

  • lubs April 17th, 2013 5:21 PM

    Morrissey. Thom Yorke. Now Molly Ringwald.

    Is Beyoncé on your interview list?

  • AnaRuiz April 18th, 2013 8:23 AM

    I can’t believe you guys get to do interviews like this!!!! It’s so cool!!!

    http://anaruizwriting.blogspot.com

  • Jéssica Ferreira April 18th, 2013 10:31 AM

    I didn’t finished reading the interview yet, but I most comment the addiction to internet and stuff like that.
    It’s been a few months since I feel like I stopped reading, writing and having fun ’cause I spend way too much time on my phone and computer.
    But then I found out Rookie Mag by the Morrissey’s interview and you know, I finally found something that’s sooo worth being online for. (Btw, Morrissey is.the.man. See one of his concerts is on my to-do-list. That interview was awesome.)
    This is the best place on the internet and it makes me feel like I’m not wasting my time. Even tho I work and study all day long, I HAVE to read at least 2 or 3 things here per day. This is the best site ever, I wish there was something like that when I was younger (I’m almost 22). You guys give so much support and it’s amazing how young some of you are. I mean, 15 and having a interview with molly?! Are you kidding me?! So much talent!

    Ok, I could go on and on but I must finish reading the interview.

    And forgive me if I wrote something wrong, I’m brazilian and not veeery fluent in english (but reading Rookie is making me better at it!)

    Lots of love to you all <3

  • maxrey April 18th, 2013 5:33 PM

    Yes! I’m 23 and I read Rookie almost every day. And every day I wish it was around 10 years ago when I was in the beginning phases of teenager-hood.

    All hail Rookie!

    PS: Molly Ringwald AND Maude Apatow in one place?! Incredible and adorable.

  • imogan April 19th, 2013 11:38 AM

    Molly and Maude are like the best combination!!!
    Molly is so lovely and her personality is perfect and ahhh!

  • kaylamb April 22nd, 2013 4:51 AM

    Loved this!

  • Serena Head April 22nd, 2013 10:36 AM

    I love you Maude! Great interview too. You write so so well :)

  • April 29th, 2013 5:48 PM

    She’s so adorable, i love her.