Madonna became a worldwide superstar in the 1980s and early 1990s with her hit songs and provocative image. The “Material Girl” singer crossed over into the world of acting in the 1980s, but it was her iconic role in the movie musical Evita that cemented her as a star of the screen as well as the stage.
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Madonna starred in ‘Evita’ as Eva Perón
Evita was originally written as a stage musical in the 1970s by renowned playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story centers around former Argentinian First Lady Eva Perón, known to her admirers as Evita.
Perón was beloved by Argentina, and actors including Michelle Pfeiffer, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close were all being considered to play the iconic first lady. But Madonna herself was especially passionate about bringing Perón’s story to life on screen.
Madge even kept a diary of her experiences throughout the process of making the movie which was published in Vanity Fair in November 1996, one month before the movie’s release. She looked back on when she first got the role two years before the movie’s release.
“I remember sitting down during Christmas of ’94 and writing an impassioned letter to the director, Alan Parker, listing the reasons why I was the only one who could portray her, explaining that only I could understand her passion and her pain,” Madonna wrote. “I can honestly say that I did not write this letter of my own free will. It was as if some other force drove my hand across the page.”
Madonna wore fake teeth and contacts to prepare for ‘Evita’
Madonna was so committed to getting into character that she sought to emulate Perón’s life in every way she could, and immerse herself in Argentinian culture. She took tango lessons and began working with a vocal coach to improve her singing, since, like in the stage version, all the movie’s dialogue is sung.
Madonna even wanted to look as much as Perón as possible. She wore brown contact lenses and had a bridge put on her teeth to hide her iconic tooth gap. She even started wearing the same 1940s suits that Perón had a penchant for.
While Madonna was dedicated to the role, that doesn’t mean she enjoyed every part of the process. “I’m still trying to get used to my brown contacts, which make me feel dizzy, nauseated, and permanently in the dark. Or maybe this is what happens when you stay in your hotel room all day,” she wrote in her diary. “I’ve got to get out more — I’m starting to talk to my dog too much.”
Madonna was praised for her performance in ‘Evita’
Ultimately, Madonna’s gamble paid off. She was being taken seriously as a dramatic actor, rather than a novelty who was a music star trying her hand at acting.
Evita received many awards and nominations. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Original Song. Madonna, meanwhile, won Best Actress – Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes.