While Grease 2 was not deemed a critical or commercial success and has faded into obscurity since its release, it was quite a big deal when it first premiered. Like Grease did somewhat for John Travolta and very much for Olivia Newton John, Grease 2 was to be the coming out party for two of Hollywood's hottest new stars. Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield. This was classic Hollywood putting its hottest products up for sale to the public. And when you think about it that way, Grease 2 suddenly becomes a very important film in the grand scheme of things.
So it is here, in this post that I would like to examine the two very different career paths of Michelle and Maxwell after the release of Grease 2 in 1982.
Let's start with the lovely Michelle. At the release of Grease 2 she was relatively unknown, with only some TV appearances on shows like "CHiPs" and "Delta House" to her credit. Her biggest movie role before Grease 2 was starring in The Hollywood Knights as Suzie Q. Soon after Grease 2, the interesting roles came piling in. Just one year later in 1983, she played the pouty Elvira opposite Al Pacino in Scarface. Then in 1985 came the role that really put her on the map and that was Ladyhawke. From there Michelle went on to have many notable roles in The Witches Of Eastwick (1987) as Sukie, the woman who couldn't stop having children, Angela the quarky wife to Alec Baldwin in Married To The Mob (1988), the pristine Madame Marie De Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons (1988) the sultry Susie Diamond from The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) the dangerously sexy Catwoman from Batman Returns (1992). From there, Michelle became a little more routine in her roles. She starred as Louanne Johnson, the tough as nails teacher in Dangerous Minds (1995) and as Sally Atwater in Up Close And Personal (1996) the very dramatized real life story of reporter Jessica Savitch. And probably her low point came opposite Sean Penn with I Am Sam (2001). I will say that it looks like things have begun to pick back up for Michelle. Her more recent roles in White Oleander (2002) and Hairspray (2007) show that she is tacking more interesting roles again and having fun doing it.
Of the two, Maxwell Caulfield probably had the most to risk career-wise because Maxwell had nothing under his belt, other than some Broadway experience. This movie was his debut and you know what they say about first impressions. He jumped from this Grease 2 role into two TV movies "Journey's End" and "The Parade" and a one episode of the TV show"The Powers of Matthew Star" (1983) . From there he had a role in one of my personal favorite 80s movies Electric Dreams (1984) and then hit critical fame as Roy in The Boys Next Door (1985) starring opposite Charlie Sheen. But things never seemed to click for Maxwell. He mostly went back to TV and had a small bit of fame in his role Mile Colby on "Dynasty" and "The Colbys." From there he went on to do more TV roles and a slew of B-Movie titles like Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat (1991), Waxworks II: Lost In Time (1992) and Alien Intruder (1993) but did resurface a few years later to acclaim as the sleazy rock star Rex Manning in Empire Records (1995).
One can't help but think that the two were singled out to be the next big thing based mostly on their looks. Of the two, Maxwell probably had more proof of acting chops then Michelle, based on his history on Broadway. So I guess it's a bit curious as to why one star shot up and one somewhat fizzled out. I'm sure there are a lot of things to factor. Maybe Maxwell never intended on being a big star. Maybe Michelle just knew more people. Maybe Maxwell's agent was terrible. We may never know. But for a moment there, for that 115 minutes running time, 25 years ago, two of Hollywood's brightest stars were shining and the possibilities seemed endless.