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People often marvel at onscreen chemistry between two actors, but sometimes that connection is because of a real-life relationship. John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer started an affair while filming Dangerous Liaisons, ultimately leading to the actor’s divorce. 

John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer’s affair

Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich face to face looking intensely into one an others eyes in a scene from the film 'Dangerous Liaisons'
Dangerous Liaisons stars Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich film a scene in 1988 | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

Malkovich is one of Hollywood’s most critically acclaimed actors, earning Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominations for his roles. He and Pfeiffer co-starred in 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons.

Their on-screen characters strike up a relationship, and the same thing happened in real life. Malkovich and Pfeiffer started having an affair during the movie’s production, which led to Malkovich’s divorce from actor Glenne Headly. He and Headly married in 1982. The couple met while working at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. 

Pfeiffer was also in a relationship with fellow actor Peter Horton. They met in an acting class. She and Horton wed in 1981 and decided to separate in 1988. Their divorce was finalized two years later. 

Stephen Frears, the director of Dangerous Liaisons, discussed his stars’ relationship with The New York Times, saying, “It was one of those times where reality and art intersect.” He said the situation was “overwhelming” for Malkovich and called it a “difficult time.”

John Malkovich says he ‘blocked [relationship out]’

Malkovich is normally fairly private, but he has spoken about his relationship with Pfeiffer. In a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, the actor said it was “hard to believe” that the actor even said hello to him.

“Not that she’s not memorable, God knows,” Malkovich explained. “But I sort of blocked it out.” He went on to say that when he think of someone he’s in a relationship with, he doesn’t see himself as “involved with them…they’re incorrupted [sic] by me.”

He spoke about their relationship in more vague terms in a 2011 interview with The Independent, where he described his romantic relationships with actresses. 

“Dating an actress is like dating any other woman,” he explained. “If there is something that might separate them from others, it is that they actually like what they do. A lot of men and women are not getting that opportunity in life. There are actresses who want to control their image completely and there are some who don’t even look in the mirror.”

Did John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer stay together?


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The pair did not stay together after his divorce from Headly, and Pfeiffer has never spoken publicly about their relationship. Malkovich started dating Nicoletta Peyran in 1989 after meeting her on the set of The Sheltering Sky (she was the second assistant director). 

The couple has been together ever since and share two children, Amandine and Loewy. Pfeiffer also found love, marrying writer and producer David E. Kelley in 1993. She and Kelley share a son, who was born in 1994.

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