Melanie Griffith Had To Pay $80,000 For A “Working Girl” Production Shut Down Because She Was Drunk On Set
There’s a very good reason Melanie Griffith’s character Tess McGill in Working Girl seems like a fun and boozy good-time girl. According to Melanie, she was half in the bag for much of the production. And once, she was so far in the bag, production had to stop and the film’s director Mike Nichols handed her an invoice for $80,000 which all but had a note in the memo reading: “Girl, get your shit together.” Tess may have had a bod for sin, but Melanie had the nods from gin (obviously I don’t respect myself or my craft, but I refuse to apologize).
People reports that Melanie told the story for a newly released oral history called Life Isn’t Everything: Mike Nichols as Remembered by 150 of his Closest Friends.
Recalling one of the more humbling moments of her life, the 62-year-old actress goes into detail about how much she upset Nichols when she appeared intoxicated on the set of the 1988 classic. Griffith said she was asked to pay $80,000 in compensation for production time lost.
“There were a lot of things that happened on Working Girl that I did that were not right,” said Griffith in the book.
“It was the late ’80s,” she continued. “There was a lot going on party-wise in New York. There was a lot of cocaine. There was a lot of temptation.”
Melanie is sober now, but she paid the Children of Hollywood tax after years of booze and drugs led her to going to rehab three times. Once in 1988, 3-weeks following the end of production on WG, and two more times in 2000 and 2009. You don’t get to grow up with a movie star mom and romp in your swimming pool with your pet lion, without also getting mauled by your pet lion and starting to drink wine “like a soft drink” by the age of 10. Apparently, things really got out of control for Melanie during the filming of WG.
Producer Robert Greenhut told Carter and Kashner that Griffith was “unreliable” and did a lot of cocaine. The crew was always worried if she would be able to perform.
Melanie says that one time she got drunk while playing pool with her co-star Alec Baldwin, who was sober at the time. Every time Alec ordered a Coke, Melanie ordered a rum and Coke. Then they had to go to work.
“When we got back to the set, I had vodka in my motor home, so I had a slug of vodka, and it mixed and made me so drunk, which I thought was really funny,” Griffith said, per the book. “But it wasn’t, and it was cold, and I had to walk down the stairs with Alec, and I couldn’t do it.”
Mike was worried about her and called one the producers with his concerns about her being “clearly high” and learned that Melanie was also getting drugs delivered to her on set. The producer talked to her agent and they told Melanie that if she didn’t clean up her act, they were going to garnish her wages for lost production time. But Mike took things a step further.
“The next morning he took me 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 it was $80,000. They wanted to get my attention and they really did. It was a very humbling, embarrassing experience, but I learned a lot from it.”
I’m glad Mike stepped up because if Melanie hadn’t finished WG, we wouldn’t have had Joan Cusack’s hair to use as universal unit of measurement. For example, how would I tell people how tall I am, if I don’t tell them I’m exactly 8.5 Cyn’s hairs tall!
Pic: 20th Century Fox