Talk about giving your children a complex...
Who could blame Dedee Pfeiffer if she suffered from a bad case of Jan Brady syndrome? The 32-year-old L.A-based actress has a superstar older sibling, Michelle; she even played a cameo as her sister's sister in Up Close & Personal. But Dedee, who has worked steadily in film and TV for more than a decade, has no complaints; with a plum role as the sassy elder daughter on Cybill, she's made sisterly comparisons a thing of the past.
I've interviewed Michelle, and she said she felt she looked like a duck. You don't look like a duck, however.
Oh, the duck face! [Laughs] She used to scare me with that face when I was little. But I didn't think she looked like a duck. I called her Alien Face. In my family [Pfeiffer was raised in Orange County, Calif.; her father is in the heating and air conditioning business, and her mother is a homemaker] we actually have this joke, and I'm called Pan Face.
Because the bottom of the pan has no contours, no real description. I've always seen my face like that - it can look like anything.
Has being Michelle's sister helped or hurt your career? How many times have you been asked that question?
[Laughs] Oh, a lot. But I expect it. I think it's been a little of both. It hurts me in that I used to walk into auditions, and I knew they wanted to see me to answer the question "Is she a younger Michelle Pfeiffer?" Well, I'm not. We don't look that much alike, and I have completely different mannerisms. I'm more quirky, a little more outgoing. What helped me is that Michelle has always been so incredibly supportive. She knows the business, and that's helped a lot.
Have there been any roles that your sister nabbed that you thought, I could have done that?
Not really. But there was one character that she played - in The Fabulous Baker Boys - that was me. When I watched her in that movie I was like, You're imitating me! My energy, my mannerisms. I thought, Aw, man! Now people are going to think I'm imitating you when it's really the other way around!
What's the biggest lie that was printed about you?
Hmm. I guess in some tabloid where they wrote that I was this young troubled girl, and big sister Michelle came in and saved the day. And also something about my being anorexic and bulimic. Not true.
There was an incident that happened about a year ago in your life that was very upsetting.
[Long pause] Well, I haven't discussed this with anyone in the press yet. It happened a year ago. Someone I was dating for a few months [Ronnie Marquette, a model/actor] killed himself in front of me. With a gun.
What did you do when it happened?
I guess I immediately went into shock. You just cannot fathom what... [long pause]... how they could do that. It was almost like, "I cannot believe what I just saw." If it had sunk in then, I don't think I could have handled it emotionally. It's just now that I'm beginning to handle it.
Do you remember the first thing you did?
I thought it was some really bad, sick joke. I just kept saying that over and over. I ran to the phone finally. I dialed zero, because when we are growing up, we're told that if something bad happens, call the operator. So I did. I didn't even think 911. I just dialed zero and started screaming, and they hung up. And then I called 911.
Wait a minute. The operator hung up on you?
Yes. I guess they thought it was a prank. When I called 911, I was in shock, just screaming, and dropped the phone. I don't remember what happened after that until somebody came to the house. I don't know how long it took, but it felt like days.
Have you gone through therapy to deal with it?
Yes. I went through therapy and grief and survival counseling. That was the most difficult thing. All the people in my group went through the pain of having someone in their life die violently. But none of them, I think, went through the experience of seeing it happen right before them, you know?
Let's end on a happier note. Describe a recent good day.
Woke up. Made a big pot of decaf coffee. Threw on my overalls. Cleaned up my house. Played the music that I love - disco! Spent the day with my two dogs and a guy I care a lot about that I've been dating. You don't think when you're going through hard times that things will someday be better. But they are. That's something I hope people who are going through rough times somehow realize. You can get through it. And now I'm a little wiser. A lot wiser.