Lisa Marie Presley's interview with Oprah last week gave the public a rare look into her relationship with Michael Jackson and how even she didn't fully understand it until after his untimely death, a year and a half ago.
I gotta tell you, Lisa Marie Presley has always kind of turned me off. I don't know if it's the monotone voice, the retro-sixties eye makeup or the lack of public charisma, but I've never found myself very interested in her life. That is until she married Michael Jackson.
At the time I remember thinking it was probably a good match. After all, she was the daughter of Elvis Presley and he and Michael had so much in common: the massive talent, the level of public adoration, the fan-enforced isolation, the power to create whatever world they wanted, for good or ill.
Like Michael's friendship with Brooke Shields, another highly scrutinized Hollywood kid, it made sense that Lisa Marie and Michael would be kindred spirits.
On Oprah, she talked about their marriage, their breakup and how she wishes she could have saved him.
Though the timing of the interview might seem strange, Presley said she wanted to do the it now because next year she has an album coming out and doesn't want to have to address all the Michael Jackson questions at that time.
I get the feeling she wasn't looking for public sympathy and that's a good thing because I don't think she'll get much. Partly I think that's because she was being honest, and partly because she came off as cold and distant. She did however look nervous throughout the interview -- almost like she was telling tales out of school.
Having said that, Lisa Marie's never catered to the publicity machine of Hollywood except when she needed to for Michael--remember the 1994 Video Music Awards kiss heard 'round the world?--so I don't particularly think she cares what the public thinks of her image now.
It's interesting that she told Oprah she only started dealing with her feeling for Michael after he died. It also sounds like she's had a whole lot of therapy since then and I can only think that's a good thing for her current marriage to Michael Lockwood.
Lisa Marie said it wasn't until after his death that she realized how much she loved him and regretted the anger and bitterness that had kept her from reaching out to him after they were no longer together.
She answered all the hot button questions, but I'll paraphrase what she meant:
- Yes, she and Michael had a "real" marriage with sex and everything.
- Yes, she knew about his problems with drugs but just like with her dad, Michael was so powerful in his world that if he didn't want to hear what you were saying, he wouldn't.
- No, she never saw anything that resembled anything inappropriate between Michael and any kids.
- She heard about his death via several text messages and phone calls, one of the first from John Travolta.
- Yes, she wanted to have children with him but wanted to make sure their relationship was solid first.
- Yes, she felt shoved aside when Michael said if she didn't want to have a baby, Debbie Rowe would.
Lisa Marie appeared almost puzzled by having had two such talented and tortured people in her life, but as Oprah implied, you don't need a degree in psychology to assume that Lisa Marie was drawn to Michael precisely because he had so much in common with her late father: That's the kind of person she loved the most, felt the most comfortable with and, as she told Oprah, loved taking care of.
One of the very highest points of my life was when things were going really well and he [Michael] and I were united together and he and I had an understanding about some of the people and things that could go on around him and he was with me on those things and we were a unit and I could take care of him.
Despite her troubles with Michael, Presley defended him, saying he was misunderstood by the public and the press. The things the public would interpret as weird or offbeat behavior would really be Michael using the coping mechanisms that he'd learned at an early age.
She felt that Michael was either high or sedated during that infamous Martin Bashir interview in which he said he saw no problem with sleeping in the same bed with children, and that Michael would often rebel by saying things he knew people didn't want him to say. She added that she thought the documentary was "edited in a nasty way.”
They eventually broke up, Presley said, because she saw the doctors and the drugs coming in, just like with her father. She thought leaving him would make him wake up. "I left him to try and take a stand and it was a stupid move," she said.
The 9-year-old Lisa Marie was home the day Elvis collapsed and died and she was devastated. Now she has two sad anniversaries every year, "August 16th I’ve dreaded my whole life. Now it’s June 25th."
The last time she spoke to Michael was a long conversation in 2005. He was trying to see if she was interested in reconciling, and Presley said she was cold to him.
“Do you think you could have saved him?” Oprah asked.
"I regret that I didn’t make a phone call."
Here's some reaction for the blogosphere:
Molls at Evil Beet Gossip:
I’m glad that Lisa Marie did this interview and especially glad that she did it with Oprah, but I’m really the most thankful that this is the last time she’s going to comment about their marriage publicly.
Speeakz at Pinboard Blog:
The interview was incredibly insightful and for me, laid to rest any questions I had on the validity of their 1 and half year long marriage. Hearing Lisa Marie discuss very specific details about their relationship helped me understand that despite the obvious ‘craziness’ that that union may have appeared to have been, behind it all were two people who cared for each other.
At the Positively Michael website there's an ongoing discussion about the interview. Some comments:
Kriash said: I’ve not liked LMP very much. She seems snippy, immature, full of herself in interviews. But maybe that’s just because she doesn’t communicate well in interviews. In this last interview, I was impressed to see that she continually prefaced any potentially negative comment about Michael with “you have to understand the life he led” type of context.
Crillon said: When Lisa described what a "high" it was to be in Michael's presence/orbit, and that she was addicted to him, wanting to be everywhere he was...that she LOVED taking care of him and it was the high point of her life...The way she said it with so much emotion...this woman is grieving, but she is also still in love with him.
Butterfly said: The LMP haters express skepticism every time she expresses her grief. I'm baffled by this. Obviously they've never dealt with the death of an ex-spouse or any estranged loved one. If they had, they'd get it.
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Reviews.
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