Our Exclusive Madonna Interview




 She learned that she is resilient, which one would think Madonna already knows. "Yeah, but now I really know that," she says, pointing out that she wrote a script that takes place on two continents and in two time periods with two sets of actors. It's a pretty complicated undertaking for a novice director.

Making a movie is never an easy process, and yet Madonna keeps at it, sometimes with little success. Early press releases for W.E. touted it as "Madonna's directorial debut," a misrepresentation that has since been corrected. But for most of the world, it may as well be. Hardly anyone saw the last one she directed, 2008's Filth and Wisdom.

"Madonna is self-aware enough to know that there are people who actively dislike her, who don't know her and yet presume that they do and pass vitriolic judgments against her," says Alek Keshishian, who ought to know. He directed Truth or Dare 21 years ago and teamed up with Madonna again on W.E., for which they're co-screenwriters.

"I was like 23 years old when she called me to do Truth or Dare," says Keshishian, who went on to direct the film With Honors as well as numerous commercials. "We always remained in touch."

 Though he's used to being in the director's chair himself, Keshishian recognized that in this situation Madonna's in charge. It's a characterization she doesn't attempt to dispute. "Yeah, yeah, for sure," she says, shedding a bit of light on their method. "We're like two schoolchildren. I would look away, and then I would look up at the screen and he would have typed something completely X-rated and pornographic."

But Madonna would never participate in that, right? "No, no," she says, grinning broadly. "Well, he would drag me into it. And then I would be like, 'OK, OK, let's stop this, we have to get back to work.' And then he would get on his BlackBerry and I'd scream at him, and then I would have to go and do something with one of my kids and he would scream at me, and we would accuse each other of being unprofessional."

Madonna is even more firm as a parent. "I'm a strict mother," she says. "My daughter doesn't know why I won't allow her to get everything pierced or a tattoo or dye her hair blond on the tips and pink at the roots." Lourdes, 15 now, can do any of those things once she's 18. "But from now until then..."

Like most mothers, Madonna can be more than a bit embarrassing. "They just really want me to just be Mom and be normal, and don't show up dressed in any outlandish way," says the woman who's not accustomed to deflecting attention. "Just come to school, do the parent-teacher meetings. I can't even wear a tracksuit. That attracts attention too. You know, they don't really want to see me as a famous person or a celebrity or somebody. They don't get it right now. They think I'm a little quirky."

Recently she's found herself wistful for the old days. "Reading Patti Smith's book Just Kids really helped me," says Madonna, reminded of her early days in New York, that magical time when being creative and innocent and free was everything. "It's important to remember that and bring that forward into your life and to have spontaneous moments." She decided to reclaim a bit of that lost impulsiveness recently. "On Sunday, I squeezed my four kids into the car and [went] shopping in East Hampton. It was very weird. The people in Ralph Lauren were not prepared. I never go shopping. And my daughter was looking like" — Madonna scrunches up her nose, as if in disbelief — "because she's always trying to get me to go shopping, and I never will. That was fun."

It seems that Madonna is still enjoying what she's doing. She even seems to have mellowed a bit. Reinvention? Maybe, at 53, she's had enough of that. "Is making a film reinventing myself?" she asks. "I don't think so. I'm just telling stories with different clothes on."