Melanie Griffith was Working Girl’s leading lady; yet, in reality, she was struggling to work. Instead, she was giggling and stumbling on the set of the movie and taking secretive breaks to “spike her punch at the crafts table.” Things began to get so out of hand that producers had to wrap things up at one point and call it a day.
The filmmakers eventually pulled her aside and gave her just the wake-up call she needed. “It was a humbling, embarrassing experience,” she recalled. Her time on Working Girl helped her get herself together, but this was by no means the end of her struggles. For years, the actress relied on external things to make her happy.
Here’s a walkthrough of what went down on the set of Working Girl and how it helped Griffith come out on the other side.
The ‘80s in New York involved a lot of late-night partying and irresistible temptations. And Melanie Griffith, who has always had an addictive personality, struggled to have fun in moderation. Unfortunately, the repercussions of her carefree lifestyle found their way straight to the set of 1988’s rom-com Working Girl.
“There were a lot of things that happened on Working Girl that I did that were not right,” Griffith admitted in the book Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols as remembered by 150 of his closest friends. The actress admitted she was exhausted, spaced out, and struggled to walk in a straight line. She was seen as unreliable by the people who worked with her.
The crew was often worried she wouldn’t be able to perform well, and their fears were many times realized, with Griffith stumbling around intoxicated and unintelligibly mumbling out her lines half the time. The actress thought she was being funny, going to her trailer and drinking in secret. But nope… it wasn’t funny at all.
The film’s producer, Douglas Wick, remembers getting a call from director Mike Nichols telling him that Griffith was clearly not okay. After Wick looked into it, he discovered that the actress was having “goods” delivered to her on set. Appalled by her actions, Wick decided it was time to take some actions of his own.
Nichols and Wick got so mad that they came up to Griffith and told her, “We’re shutting down. Go home.” The actress knew she was in hot water for her reckless behavior, and she prepared herself mentally for what was yet to come. The following morning, Nichols took her to breakfast and said:
“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to pay for last night out of your pocket. We’re not going to report you to the studio, but you have to pay for what it cost.” And what it cost was $80,000. That hefty sum was the necessary wake-up call Griffith needed. “It was a humbling experience,” she noted.
Three weeks after they wrapped up shooting, Griffith checked herself into a treatment facility with the help of her ex-husband, Don Johnson, who had struggled himself with addiction in his early years. “Don was actually waiting for me when I got out of rehab,” the actress revealed in a 2014 interview with Porter magazine.
The couple rekindled their love, marrying for the second time in 1989, one year after the movie’s release, and the same year their daughter, Dakota Johnson, was born. Griffith described the reunion as “the most natural, perfect, loving thing.” Unfortunately, that “perfect, loving thing” didn’t last long. Four years later, their marriage ended once again, and Johnson was back to abusing substances.
Griffith continued to struggle with sobriety in the early ‘00s, returning to rehab twice more, once in 2000 and again in 2009. She was married at the time to Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and had three children to take care of – Dakota (from her marriage with Don), Stella (from Banderas), and Alexander Bauer (from Steven Bauer, her second husband).
Despite her recurring visits to rehab, Griffith insists she was never a “drunk-on-the-floor, out-of-it” mom. She was a functioning parent who, for the most part, took good care of her kids. “I didn’t do some things I probably should have done but, mostly, I was there for my kids,” she told Porter magazine.
Addiction was something Griffith had struggled with from a teeny tiny age. Her first cup of wine was at the age of 10 and she spent her teenage years in a constant state of brain fog. “I didn’t get something that I needed when I was little. I was never loved unconditionally,” she revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair.
Daughter of Hollywood icon Tippi Hedren, Griffith grew up in the, at times, suffocating limelight. She modeled as a baby, starred in commercials, and even served as an extra in a few films. But the constant attention was a little too much to handle at times, and she reportedly took sips of wine as a way to medicate herself and escape her insecurities.
Griffith knew she had “Tess” (Working Girl’s character) in her blood. But it took a bit of convincing to get the studio on board with her. She arrived at her audition in New York nervous and sweating in an expensive, white, linen suit she had splurged on for the special occasion just so she could look “businesslike and very Tess McGill.”
She stood in front of Doug Wick, Mike Nichols, and ten other crew members who requested she pick three things to recite. She told them, “I’ll read anything, I’ll go through the whole script!” Two days later, she was told that the studio wasn’t too hot for her, but, luckily, her agent managed to negotiate for a screen test, after which she received the call telling her she got the part.
Griffith had the biggest crush on her co-star Alec Baldwin and used to flirtatiously beg him to get a little romantic with her. But he remained professional and would turn her down time after time, saying that he doesn’t fool around with the people he works with.
Griffith quickly forgot about Baldwin when she was introduced to Liam Dalton, an investment banker who had been recruited by director Mike Nichols to teach her about mergers and acquisitions. Far from a Wall Street dork, Dalton was gorgeous, sexy, and everything Griffith wanted. “We had an incredible romance,” she revealed.
After Working Girl was released to cinemas, Griffith’s life went from somewhat crazy to seriously hectic. “Everyone knew who I was all of a sudden,” she explained. The phone kept ringing and ringing and ringing, with job offers coming from different areas in showbiz.
Her incredibly relatable performance in Working Girl earned Griffith a Golden Globe. And the film itself was nominated five times: for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (for Weaver and Cusack), and Best Original Song.
“If Tess were around today,” Griffith told The Hollywood Reporter, “she would be running Google.” Apart from becoming an impressive CEO, the actress assumed that her lovable character would still be married to Jack, with whom she would have probably had a few kids.
Playing Tess is one of Griffith’s most memorable achievements. “It’s an example of how to speak up and stand up for yourself and not sell yourself out for a job or a guy. You don’t have to acquiesce to a man or a woman,” she stressed in her interview with THR.
At 14, Griffith worked on the set of the film The Harrad Experiment, starring alongside her mom, Tippi Hedren. During the shooting, she locked eyes with Don Johnson, who was 22 years old and, according to Griffith, “the most beautiful person I’d ever seen.”
Their innocent chit-chats turned into a strong and deep attachment, one which scared Tippi Hedren, who was less than happy to see her daughter fall for an older man. She eventually approved of their relationship, letting Griffith move in with Johnson just a year later, at the age of 15.
Johnson got down on one knee the moment Griffith turned 18, and the young lovebirds officially tied the knot in 1976. But their impulsive marriage barely outlasted the wedding feast. Looking back, it was doomed from the get-go. On the night before the big day, Johnson was out having drinks with ex-Miss World, Marjorie Wallace.
Several hours after his date with Wallace, Johnson was in Las Vegas, holding Griffith’s hand and professing his undying love by saying, “I do.” Their rocky marriage lasted six short months. After which she went on to marry Steven Bauer, and Johnson proceeded to date actress Patti D’Arbanville.
Griffith met her second lover, Cuban actor Steven Bauer, on the set of the TV film Army Now. Unlike her wild relationship with Johnson, Griffith’s affair with Bauer felt a bit saner and more appropriate (at least at first). They even had a child together, whom they named Alexander.
The two tried to stick it out together for as long as they could, mainly for the sake of their son, but it turned out to be a lot harder than they anticipated. Griffith’s addiction became a destructive force in their relationship, ultimately leading to their divorce in 1987 after eight years.
After divorcing Bauer, Griffith found her way back into Don Johnson’s arms. The old lovers decided to give their story another shot and married for the second time in 1989. “There was always this connection. I can’t explain it,” the actress said when they reunited.
She described them as “almost like soulmates” and explained that she had to go through things by herself to realize it. The optimistic couple gave birth to their daughter, Dakota, a little after their reunion. She confidently stated, “This is God’s plan.”
While their second marriage lasted a bit longer than their adolescent fling, Griffith and Johnson still didn’t manage to keep it together. After five years of marriage and one daughter, the couple split in the mid ‘90s, citing “irreconcilable differences.”
“It’s hard for me to imagine life without him. But we are changing in different ways.” Griffith explained at the time. Despite their breakup, the two have remained close. In a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson mentioned that the bond between them is stronger than ever.
“It’s pretty simple,” Don Johnson told Stellar magazine, “when you love your children and want to share your life with them, it’s foolish to denigrate or have any animosity with their mother.” He stressed that children model their parents a lot more than they listen to them, so being a good role model is key!
Griffith feels the same way. And not only about Johnson, but about all her husbands. The actress once told InStyle magazine, “All of my husbands, my three husbands — I love them all so much, and we’re all very close.” We think it’s incredible she’s managed to stay friends with all three of them.
Ruggedly attractive, Antonio Banderas swept Griffith off her feet the second they crossed paths on the set of the film Two Much. It was love at first sight, she once stated, even though she admitted that their first conversation was a bit awkward. The first thing Banderas reportedly asked her was, “How old are you?”
Despite being “the rudest thing anyone has ever asked” her, Griffith felt that there was just something about him. But there was one little thing holding the two of them back – both of them were still married at the time, Griffith to Johnson and Banderas to actress Ana Leza.
“It was very, very fast and very compulsive, but at the same time, we were tied at the time,” Antonio Banderas said about their relationship on set. The Spanish actor confessed that they tried as much as they could to be respectful and tried their best to play it off as just a fleeting moment of infatuation.
But it was far from a harmless on set crush. Griffith and Banderas ended up divorcing their respective partners so they could marry each other that very same year. Griffith was accused by Ana Leza of “stealing” her husband, but the actress didn’t care. All she cared for was starting a new life with Banderas.
Early in their relationship, when Griffith was pregnant with their daughter, Banderas was off shooting the film Evita, in which he starred alongside Madonna. The Material Girl showed an interest in the Spanish actor, and the story got so overblown that Melanie was eventually banned from the Evita set.
“The press made a big thing about how I’m watching over Antonio, and I won’t leave him alone with Madonna because I’m afraid that Madonna’s going to steal him,” Griffith told Larry King back in 2002. Drama aside, nothing ended up happening between Banderas and Madonna.
Griffith and Banderas spent nearly two decades together, and for a while there, it seemed like they were the embodiment of true love. The Working Girl star even went so far as to ink her husband’s name on her upper right arm and frame the letters with a heart shape.
The couple welcomed their daughter Stella shortly after they married. They reportedly gave her that name after Griffith’s beloved acting teacher, Stella Adler. Raised by two Hollywood stars, you would expect Stella Banderas to follow in their footsteps. But the 24-year-old isn’t interested in acting; instead, she’s busy promoting her fragrance line.
During the first years of their marriage, Griffith and Banderas decided to keep their finances apart. This was the actress’s third marriage, and Banderas’s second, and even though they felt that their relationship was promising, life had taught them both that one can never be too careful when it comes to money.
They made sure that whatever money they made between 1996 and 2004 would remain in the hands of the person who earned it, something many people found odd. In 2004, the happy couple had a sudden change of heart. They decided to sign an agreement making what was hers his and vice versa.
At the turn of the century, Melanie Griffith relapsed. But this time, it was Antonio Banderas who held her hand as she made her way to the rehab center. And her addiction this time around was directed toward painkillers she had been taking for her neck pain.
Banderas stood by his wife’s side as she struggled to break free from her addiction. A little before checking herself in, the actress publicly stated, “I appreciate everyone’s concern, and I am sure that you will respect me and my family’s privacy. With love, Melanie.”
In 2014, after 18 years of marriage, the actress had had enough. She filed for divorce from Banderas. “I think part of the reason my marriage to Antonio fell apart was because I was stuck,” she explained; “Nobody else is to blame.” To this day, Griffith admits it was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done.
Griffith felt personally stuck in her life and shared that the divorce was necessary for both sides to get their lives in order again. Despite not being romantically involved anymore, Banderas still sees Griffith as his best friend. “I love her, and I will love her until I die,” he told People magazine.
When they finalized their divorce, Banderas agreed to pay Griffith $65,000 dollars a month as part of their settlement. It’s safe to say that their split was done in a polite and friendly manner.
After four failed marriages, one begins to wonder whether their commitment issues might have to do with how they were raised. For example, Melanie’s parents divorced when she was just four years old, which resulted in her mom packing up their belongings and abandoning the place she once called home.
From that point on, her dad, executive Peter Griffith, was no longer a huge part in her life. She would go back and forth from L.A. (where her mom raised her) to NY (where her dad stayed). Eventually, Peter went on to marry actress Nanita Greene with whom he had two more kids, Tracy Griffith and Clay A. Griffith.
Instead of reminiscing about the past and regretting the choices she had made, the actress decided she was better off working on herself through acting. So, when the role of a care-free substance user in the film Another Day in Paradise came up, she felt it was just the right role to take.
Her delivery in the movie was so incredibly accurate that critics raved about her performance, claiming it was one of the best in her whole career. The movie received mixed reviews, but it managed to snatch the Grand Prix award at the 1999 Festival du Film Policier de Cognac.
After appearing in numerous big-screen films, Melanie decided to mix things up by performing on stage. She auditioned for the part of Roxie Hart in Broadway’s musical Chicago and got the part instantly. New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley gave Griffith a fantastic review when he wrote:
“Ms. Griffith is a sensational Roxie, possibly the most convincing I have seen… the vultures who were expecting to see Ms. Griffith stumble… will have to look somewhere else.” Griffith stated, “This is what I’ve always wanted to do – Broadway, and maybe, because I’ve worked 30 years, I rate a shot at it.”
In the early 2000s, Griffith’s career slowed down substantially. After appearing in several independent films, she was unfortunately nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, which damaged her reputation in the industry tremendously.
In total, she was nominated seven times for a Razzie award. Her first one was in 1991 for her work in The Bonfire of the Vanities and her last one in 2001 for Cecil B. Demented. It took her time to bounce back, and only in 2003 did she decide to give her acting career another shot.
After her divorce from Banderas, the actress sought a different kind of company. Her focus was less on dating and more on herself. She started working out daily, and one fateful day ran into Khloe Kardashian through a gym trainer they both shared.
Khloe believed it would be a good idea to have her mom Kris and Melanie meet because they shared similar interests and have been through similar things. Believing they could hit it off, Khloe arranged a meeting between the two, and they became good friends in no time!
In an attempt to return to her youthful look, Melanie Griffith decided to go under the knife and get a face-lift. But by the time she recovered from it, the face she saw in the mirror was nothing like her own. Her skin before the surgery might have had a few wrinkles, but at least it was hers.
As if pulling her face wasn’t enough, Griffith also injected Botox, distorting her appearance even more. Unfortunately, the media flooded with hurtful comments regarding her looks. She ignored them at first, but after a few years, decided to reverse the changes.
In 2017, the Working Girl star publicly admitted she had had enough of the constant criticism and had realized it was time to get back to looking like her old self. She went under the knife again, but this time, in order to reverse the face-lift.
She’s been dissolving the Botox for several years now, and with each passing day, her face looks way more natural and healthier. During an interview with Porter magazine, Melanie already looked a lot more like her former self. She told the interviewer: “Hopefully I look better!”
Melanie is a hopeless romantic, but her heart isn’t only focused on the men she’s dated, but also on the community surrounding her. The skilled actress believes in giving back to the people, which is why she helped organize a 5k fundraising walk for the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
The objective was to raise enough funds to support the opening of a new pediatric inpatient facility. Griffith also took part in the hospital’s 2012 Noche de Niños gala, where she presented the Courage to Care Award.
When Griffith attended her daughter’s New York premiere of the film How To Be Single, she was asked to give her best advice for single women who are trying to make it on their own. To the surprise of absolutely everyone, Melanie’s answer was far from what people expected.
She responded: “Don’t get married! There’s no need… You don’t need to get married to have a child anymore.” Her advice became a huge deal on social media and was mentioned numerous times in magazines like US Weekly and People.
As for her current dating life, the starlet admits it’s been pretty slow. She’s flowing through life in a completely different pace and went from a Hollywood bombshell who dated men like Jack Nicholson and Ryan O’Neal, to a shy and more reserved woman.
“I’m shy with men now, very reticent … nobody has asked me on a date for almost two years,” Griffith admitted. As for what she’s looking for in life right now, she replied that’s she’s a bit shy with men now and prefers to dedicate her time to close friends.
“My brain is so f**ked up,” Griffith once admitted during a Women’s Brain Health Initiative panel at the Gagosian Gallery (in NY). She revealed that she had experienced a string of grand mal seizures, each happening at a point in her life when she was highly stressed.
After several tests she was diagnosed with epilepsy, and thanks to a pill called Lamictal, she hasn’t had a seizure in years. The actress then confessed that she believes her healing has to do with the divorce as well. “I got divorced which is the real healer for me,” Griffith stated as the audience broke into laughter.
Griffith’s views on marriage have entirely shifted since her divorce from Banderas. She sees no reason to tie the knot anymore and believes that saying “I do” has little to do with true love. “I really don’t think it’s relevant for anyone anymore,” Griffith told InStyle magazine.
“Especially if you’re 60 and you have four kids and you’re living the life you’ve always wanted,” she added. Griffith says she would love to fall in love again and have a romantic relationship but doesn’t see herself walking down the aisle ever again.
Griffith’s role in Working Girl inspired many women to take control of their lives, something the actress is extremely proud of. Especially because the whole topic of the difficulties working women face hits close to home. Her mom, Tippi Hedren, went through hell in Hollywood.
Her working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock was troubling. “She was mentally abused and tortured by him,” Griffith explained. Seeing what her mom went through taught her never to let anyone take advantage of her. It made her more aware of what was possible.
Griffith felt pressured to go under the knife because, “It’s a scary thing when you’re an actress and you depend on your face for work.” Growing old, in general, especially in the industry, isn’t easy to go through. “It’s a different deal when you’re older,” she told InStyle magazine.
She told the online magazine that she doesn’t view the process of aging as something bad, she just knows that it significantly changes things. “It’s different from being the hot stuff to being the old hot stuff,” she concluded.
Melanie’s pet growing up wasn’t your typical Labrador. It was a wild cat named Neil. Her mom Tippi decided to make a film named Roar about the endangered status of lions in Africa, and, as a result, Griffith found herself cuddling in bed with a lion.
Released in 1981, the film wasn’t a huge hit, grossing a little over $2 million but costing nearly $20 million. Tippi Hedren has since admitted that it was “stupid beyond belief” to put her loved ones at risk by letting a wild animal roam free around the house.
As of 2021, Griffith is reportedly worth a whopping $40 million. After more than three decades in showbiz, she’s accumulated an impressive amount of money! Apart from her numerous acting gigs, Griffith has also made money by investing in real estate.
In addition to her accumulated wealth, Melanie has also collected an impressive number of awards over the course of her career, including a Golden Globe for her part as Tess in Working Girl. Apart from acting, Melanie is also an accomplished producer. A woman of many talents!
Melanie Griffith amazed her Instagram followers when she uploaded a photo of herself in pink lingerie, sitting on the edge of a bathtub with her hair put up in a towel. She explained that the two racy photos she shared were for a good cause.
“I wear pink in honor of breast cancer awareness,” the starlet wrote in the caption. And in case you are interested in buying the pretty pink underwear, Griffith assures you that you would be doing something good, because part of the money will go to the Women’s Cancer Research Fund.