All this week we’ve been talking about Madonna and her new album “American Life.” “Today” host Matt Lauer sat down with her recently and it was clear that the original material girl has mellowed some. But she still has the ability to make waves — especially when it comes to the subject of her own fame.
Madonna: “There is this kind of obsession in America right now, with just being famous. And it’s got nothing to do with… why you’re famous or what you’ve accomplished to be famous. It’s an obsession with fame and celebrity and things like that.”
So says one of the world’s most famous women. Despite the fact that she’s spent two decades feeding the machine that’s made her a superstar, Madonna now says fame and the fortune that comes with it are highly overrated.
Madonna: “I can tell you from my vantage point, which is what most people perceive as the top that none of those things bring you happiness, eliminate chaos from your life and none of those things are really real.”
Matt Lauer: “Are you saying what you’ve been through over the last twenty years or so is just bogus?”
Madonna: “No… not at all. It’s not that it was bogus but it’s like, what is your intent?”
Lauer: “Well, what was your intent? What was your intent as you started to taste fame?”
Madonna: “Well heck, I don’t even… I mean probably what most people’s intent is that gets into the entertainment business. I feel like I had something to say through my music… that was my original goal. But ultimately it is about wanting to be the center of attention, wanting people’s approval, wanting to put on a show.”
Lauer: “So what’s wrong with that, by the way? What’s wrong if that’s all somebody wants out of fame these days, they just want to be the center of attention?”
Madonna: “Ultimately because that’s not what we were put on this earth for.”
For Madonna and her family far more concern is placed on spiritual matters. Madonna says she, her husband Guy Ritchie and daughter Lourdes all regularly attend classes at the Kaballah center in Los Angeles, studying a mystical form of Judaism which predates organized religions.”
Madonna: “My daughter goes to a spirituality class every Sunday where she learns about sharing and giving and the power of her words and things that no one is teaching her in school. And my husband is very interested in it because he’s always been a very scientific person, very analytical and intellectualizes everything to the nth degree because it’s so rooted in science it’s something that he’s been able to take onboard.”
Lauer: “But do you two sit up at night, I mean, after the kids go to bed and you kind of have a glass of wine or whatever and you sit there and talk about these things?”
Lauer: “What are those discussions like?”
Madonna: “They’re mind-boggling. They’re deep. I mean, they’re exciting and sometimes bewildering. But I mean I’m so grateful for it because you know we can talk about other things beyond our careers and where we’re going to go on holiday and stuff like that. I mean I feel like we’re plugged into the universe really.”
In fact, Madonna says Kaballah provided a kind of life raft after “Swept Away” the now infamous joint movie production by Mr. and Mrs. Ritchie.
She starred, he directed, in what was both a critical and box office disaster.
Madonna: “You know, it hurt me, I’m not going to say it didn’t bug me. But I did move on. I mean, and it actually helped my relationship with my husband immensely.”
Lauer: “You said to me before, you said it’ll either make or break my relationship making this movie. So was it a little bit ‘you and me against the world’ once the critics started?”
Madonna: “No, it was where we could really apply our Kabalistic principles that we’ve learned which was amazing. That is… when you have everything in the world and you think life is just grand, I’m sitting on cloud nine, perceive yourself as having nothing. That way you’ll maintain humility right? And when you feel like your life is in the gutter or you perceive like everything’s been taken away from you or things are just dark and gloomy, perceive yourself as having everything and that’s what we did.”
And she’s moved on since then to other acting challenges. Even though she says she never watches TV — she agreed to make a guest appearance on the NBC comedy “Will and Grace.”
Lauer: “What’s the character you play on Will and Grace?”
Madonna: “I play Megan’s roommate, Karen’s roommate.”
Lauer: “And what kind of character are you?”
Madonna: “I’m blond, that explains everything.”
Lauer: “Yeah wild?”
Madonna: ”Little wild, little blond.”
Lauer: “What’s it like to be on a sitcom set?”
Madonna: “Actually it’s great. It’s like theater because you have a live audience.”
Lauer: “It’s more spontaneous than making a movie.”
Madonna: “It is. I prefer it.”
But her first love is still music. And last night, she put on a special show for hundreds of her fans in New York City. Some of whom waited in line for days.
Lauer: “Why are we still talking about you?”
Madonna: “Because I still have things I want to do and things I want to say. And you know, people want to hear it, then that’s great.”