PARIS — Molly Ringwald makes her restaurant entrance wearing a simple beige raincoat and a bewildered expression. She has been a Parisienne for two years now, and the gawky, sensual charm that marked her as an ingenue has been displaced by an unmistakable sophistication. The famous bee-stung lips are there, painted red, but the fiery bob of hair is gone — though she’s thinking of fixing that.
“Sue Mengers — you know, the ex-superagent — called and said, ‘Dye your hair back to red, you’re starting to look mousy!”‘ she says as she pulls at her brown locks and laughs.
Ringwald is hardly mousy. When she opens her coat, an hourglass figure is revealed. But she’s not totally at ease with her curves. “I’m jealous of all the waifs because I’ll never be one,” she says. “The funny thing is, I couldn’t be further from them; I love to eat and drink.”
And asking the waiter for red wine, she shows off the smile that’s moved men from the late Kurt Cobain (whose song “Kiss, Kiss Molly’s Mouth” was inspired by her) to Warren Beatty. Paris appeals to Ringwald’s sensibilities these days. In Hollywood, she was no longer the fresh-faced teenage idol, and she wasn’t succeeding as a grown-up actress. She’d decided to sell her Mulholland Drive house and move to New York or Seattle, when the chance came up to work in France on a TV movie called “Face the Music.” She grabbed it.
Two months later, Ringwald fell madly in love, which confirmed her impression that “the gods were wanting me to stay in France.” The gods’ gift was 30-year-old journalist Valery Lameigniere, a writer with a passion for bullfighting with whom she now shares an apartment in the Marais district. Scripts are coming in, and the film “Seven Sundays” — a film shot in Florida with Rod Steiger and Thierry Lhermitte — comes out in September.
Still, as far as her career is concerned, she is listening to Mengers. “She convinced me that I have to move back to the States part-time — but not until September,” insists Ringwald. She missed last summer in Paris when she was shooting the big-budget Stephen King mini-series, “The Stand,” which cost over $28 million, and took over 100 days to shoot. (It begins its four-part airing on ABC this Sunday.) Ringwald plays a woman immune to the virus that decimates the world.
When Ringwald goes to New York in June to attend an AmFAR event, she plans to look for an apartment there. She won’t be looking on the West Coast — she says she never felt at ease with her supposed Hollywood peers: “You know, kids who live in Mulholland or in the Hollywood Hills and are successful with way too much luxury for their age.”
Her French friends don’t see her that way; to them, she’s the actress who played Cordelia in Jean-Luc Godard’s “King Lear” and the 13-year-old who starred with John Cassavetes in Paul Mazursky’s “The Tempest.” “There are two trump cards to play here,” she says. “Either saying that you knew Andy Warhol or John Cassavetes. They’re American idols here.”
On the subject of idols, however, Ringwald says it’s better not to meet them. “During my teenage years people expected me to be like I was in my movies,” she says. “I know that when I’ve met someone that I’ve admired intensely there’s no way they can live up to your expectations. You realize they’re not like your fantasy because they’re human.”
Now, a true Parisienne, she sips her Bordeaux, smiles slowly and says, “When I really like somebody, I prefer to keep him to myself.”