Virginia Madsen

UPDATED 02/15/2005 at 06:00 AM EST Originally published 11/03/2004 at 06:00 AM EST

Virginia Madsen
"I need a really strong director," says Madsen, who worked with Alexander Payne on Sideways. "A 22-year-old guy just out of film school is not going to be able to do that for me."
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.com
After devoting the past few years to being a mom, Virginia Madsen says she's ready to nurture her career again. The 43-year-old single mother is off to a good start playing a waitress in Sideways, the wine country buddy flick that earned her a Golden Globe nod and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Madsen recently shared her thoughts on wine, Hollywood and her 10-year-old boy.

Have you ever been plied by wine?
I've had a few of those moments, when I was married. (Laughs) He used to ply me with wine regularly, and then I kind of went, "Oh, maybe we should get a divorce." ... (But) all kidding aside, no one in their right mind would get drunk on an Alexander Payne set. And I had to look good in the morning, because I was doing the movie with no makeup.

How'd you feel about that?
It was so freeing because nobody was going to try to make me look like somebody different, that's not the focus. And I got to sleep later in the morning – that was fantastic.

Did you see yourself in your character?
I spent a good deal of time in that area (California wine country). It's kind of like my sanctuary because I'd like to live there. I'm familiar with it, I have friends there. I want to move to that area. I've wanted to live there for about four years, but I have to make a larger paycheck before I do that."

How are things with your 10-year-old son, Jack?
I'm really, really fortunate that for the first 10 years of his life, most of my focus was completely on him. I got to take him to school in the morning, get up and make him breakfast. His father (ex-boyfriend Antonio Sabato Jr.) and I aren't together, so both of us try to put the majority of our focus on him to make his two households as stable as possible. I became the art teacher at his school for two years, and that was so rewarding. That was one of the greatest things I've ever done was to teach the third grade.

And as he grows older?
It's a whole other ball game. Now he just wants to be with Dad all the time, very into hockey. ... But I got to kind of let him go a little bit right now, and it's good timing, I guess, because Mom needs to go and do this (acting) now. I'm going to start working more, and I think I'll get better jobs.

Would you like to try a specific genre?
I think romantic comedy is the hardest kind of script to find, and when there is one of those, it's just like a catfight. ... (but) I know I'm less expensive than all of (the other actresses), so that I think gives me the advantage.

Do you see yourself getting a big lead in an indie as opposed to taking a lesser role in a major movie?
I've done the film where they had the 50-cent budget, and I'm kind of not interested in that anymore. The truth is, sometimes you can have a nice little script, or sometimes a good script, but when you don't have money to make the film, it becomes a chore, and I can't look at another crew that's so hungry at 2:30 in the morning because they ran out of food at 2:30 in the afternoon.

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