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This "Grease 2" Star Admits He Resented Michelle Pfeiffer's Rise to Fame

Maxwell Caulfield starred alongside Pfeiffer, but the movie didn't help his career.

While Grease was a hit when it came out in 1978 and is still a beloved movie musical today, the same cannot be said for its 1982 sequel, Grease 2. While it made a star out of Michelle Pfeiffer, it was otherwise a failure, making $15 million compared to the original's $159 million and being largely panned by critics. And, for one of the stars, it took some time to get over the disappointment and to bounce back as an actor. Grease 2's Maxwell Caulfield admits that he resented Pfeiffer for coming out of the movie unscathed, when it set him back in his own career.

Caulfield recently gave a new interview about the movie and Pfeiffer's rise to fame to Page Six. Read on to see how Caulfield felt about his co-star and the film at the time and to find out what he's been doing since.

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Caulfield and Pfeiffer play love interests in the movie.

Michelle Pfeiffer in "Grease 2"
Paramount Pictures

Grease 2 revolves around a strait-laced new student guy and a popular high school girl, instead of the other way around, like in the original. Pfeiffer stars as Stephanie Zinone, the leader of the Pink Ladies. Caulfield plays Michael Carrington, an exchange student from England, who's the cousin of Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) from Grease. Michael gets Stephanie to fall for him after taking on a fake persona as a motorcycle-riding tough guy called Cool Rider.

Caulfield was bothered by Pfeiffer's subsequent success.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield at the "Grease 2" premiere party in 1982
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Grease 2 was Pfeiffer's first starring film role, and the movie being unsuccessful didn't slow her down. The following year, Pfeiffer starred as Elvira in Scarface. Later in the '80s came roles in The Witches of Eastwick, Dangerous Liaisons, and Married to the Mob.

This didn't go over well with Caulfield, who had a difficult time booking roles for a few years after the movie flopped. "It was, psychologically, quite a kick in the pants," the 61-year-old actor told Page Six of the response to Grease 2. "And of course, Michelle rose like a Phoenix, right? Did Scarface, and that so that made it even, frankly, a little harder to swallow."

It made his own struggles more difficult to accept.

Maxwell Caulfield at the premiere of "Judy" in 2019
Kathy Hutchins /

Caulfield doesn't think that Pfeiffer shouldn't be such a huge star, but he was jealous that things didn't work out similarly for himself. "You know, listen, every actor has his and her own path," he told Page Six. "She has gone on to multiple Oscar nominations and the rest of it … She delivers and she defines Hollywood beauty … You can't begrudge them their success. But as I said, simultaneously, it makes it that much tougher to see, that you've been benched. And it took a long wait time to come back."

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Caulfield went on to play a cult classic role in the '90s.

Maxwell Caulfield as Rex Manning in "Empire Records"
Warner Bros.

Caulfield did continue acting after Grease 2 and is still working today, but he didn't hit it as big as Pfeiffer. Following the movie, he notably appeared on multiple episodes of Dynasty and starred in its spinoff The Colbys. In the 1995, he played washed-up pop star Rex Manning in Empire Records, which is the role he's most recognized for today. On Apr. 8, fans of the film celebrate Rex Manning Day, which is an event in the movie.

"It goes mental," he told Page Six of fans reaching out annually on that day. "I literally have to put out like a statement because I can't possibly respond to the sort of floodgates that open. My Twitter account normally is just sort of dormant and then suddenly it goes bonkers. And I want to like everything everybody says. So what I tend to do is I put something out that's meant to appease the masses."

He wishes he had done this one thing differently in his career.

Juliet Mills and Maxwell Caulfield at Outfest Film Festival in August 2021
Eugene Powers /

In a 2012 interview with Hollywood Revealed, Caulfield talked about Grease 2, which was his first starring role, and shared the advice he would give his 22-year-old self. "Don't believe your own hype is top of the list," he said. "Definitely start shooting your second film before the first one comes out. Get out there as quickly as you can to display your versatility. Hollywood is inclined to consign you to a category and it's up to you to make sure the box is as big as possible so that you can stretch."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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