The "Uptown Girl" is going midtown.
Christie Brinkley, the supermodel who graced scores of magazine covers -- not to mention her title role in ex-husband Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" music video -- will put her killer looks and newfound singing and dancing skills to good use when she makes her Broadway debut Friday night as accused murderess Roxie Hart for an 11-week run in "Chicago."
"I love going to plays, and every time, I've always said to myself, 'I want to be up on that stage,' " says Brinkley, 57.
Newsday's Daniel Bubbeo recently chatted with Brinkley about the show, learning to become a dancer and what Joel might have to say about her in his upcoming memoir.
"Chicago" is so different for you. How did it all come about?
My agent called me up with a little list of things and said, are you interested in this or this or this, and he kind of breezed over "Chicago" because it's such a long-term commitment. I was, like, " 'Chicago'? Do you think they could send me a script?" . . . I knew I was going to be in good hands, but I said to the producers, "Look, I have no idea if I have what it takes. I'm not a trained actor, dancer or singer. I'm extremely flattered that you would think of me, but I would like to come in and do a scene and sing a song, and if you still want to make me an offer after that, then I'll worry about whether or not I can squeeze this in."
I guess the audition went well.
I did a scene. They said we're going to have our producer come down. Would you mind doing the scene again. He came down, and then they said, "Well, we'll talk to everybody on our team, we're honored that you came in." Then, a week later, they said, "We'd love to have you."
What went through your head after they said you've got the part?
My first concern became my family and how would they adjust to it. After speaking with my mom and dad , who have both been going through some real health crises, I said, "I won't be as available because this is a real commitment. They've got their work cut out with me." My dad, who has been suffering from Parkinson's and various other diseases, couldn't speak. So he started to write something on a piece of paper.
What did he write?
He kept tracing over it again and again, and soon I could make out the words, and the words were "Take it." So I've kind of taken this on for my dad, and it's really given a whole new strength to both my parents. They're both rallying. My mom's just recovering from a heart attack. She said, "I'm going to do whatever I need to do to be there," and they both plan to be there for my first performance.
The only time I ever saw you do any sort of dancing was in the "Uptown Girl" video. How hard is it learning that choreography?
The hardest thing for me is that as soon as I learn the choreography and commit it to memory, they make changes and say let's try it this way, or let's try it that way. Yesterday, for the first time, I danced with my boys. To be right there, surrounded by these strong, gorgeous bodies going through their moves, it's just so thrilling. And despite it adding on a new layer, because now I'm holding my dance while they're doing a different dance and that should have made me more nervous, I saw these amazing dancers doing these incredible moves around me, and I thought, who's going to be looking at me?
You seem so nice. How do you get into that mindset of someone who shoots her husband?
I have a few things to draw on, you know. [Laughs.] It's just relating it to experiences you've had and something that might be a trigger, and you can put one or two words near that scene to help you go back to that emotion.
Your ex, Billy Joel, has his autobiography coming out in June. Has he spoken to you about it and told you what he's going to say about you?
We speak to each other fairly frequently. He told me he was doing this book and asked me if I would sit down and be interviewed. While I never really found time to sit down and meet with his writer, I did do a fairly in-depth interview for his movie, and I think that they probably plucked a few things from that. A couple of people have said, "Are you worried that he's going to say something bad?" and I said, "No, there's nothing bad for him to say. Why should I be worried?"