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MOVIES New Madonna docudrama gets into the groove
by Tony Peregrin
2019-03-03

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Who's that girl? Meet Madonna's doppelganger—Jamie Auld, a 23-year-old actress taking on the role of pre-fame Madonna in a new film chronicling the pop icon's early life in Queens, NY.

Written and directed by Guy Guido, Madonna and the Breakfast Club explores the singer's days as a drummer and keyboard player in the Breakfast Club, a synth-pop band she formed in the late '70s with her then-boyfriend, Dan Gilroy.

The film, a documentary-drama hybrid, features Auld's reenactment of key scenes from Madonna's time with the band, and interviews with Gilroy and brother Ed, who provided Guido with rare source material, including previously unreleased music, audio recordings, photographs and letters, which the director used to develop the biopic.

Guido—who is openly gay and a lifelong Madonna fan—dialed up the film's verisimilitude even further by filming in in some of the same buildings once inhabited by the future record-breaking, line-crossing megastar, mother and role model.

"We filmed in the actual synagogue where she lived with the Gilroys, in the same rooms, using the same instruments that she and the band used while playing together. … This is music history, the start of a musical career that would change the world of music and change our entire entertainment culture at large," said Guido.

Windy City Times: Jamie, your resemblance to Madonna is uncanny—speak about how Guy Guido discovered you.

Jamie Auld: He discovered me behind the counter at Doughnut Plant. I know it sounds phony, because Madonna apparently also worked at a donut shop when she first came to NYC, but it's the truth. When Guy first noticed me and inquired if anyone had ever asked me if I looked like Madonna, I just laughed it off.

Guy Guido: What struck me first was the structure of her face, the jawline, the profile, the cheekbones and especially her nose. She was busy working and looking down, but I remember thinking, "Please have blue eyes, please have blue eyes." Then she looked up, and—lo and behold—I knew I had found my girl.

I didn't tell her about the movie right away, as I was still auditioning and meeting with actresses through the agencies. Then finally one day, when I knew I wasn't going to find what I was looking for by going the traditional route, I told my husband to bring my card to "the donut girl," tell her about the film, and ask her if she would meet with me about this.

WCT: Describe your process for portraying one of the most famous women in the world.

JA: A lot of prep went into studying Madonna. I watched Desperately Seeking Susan and Who's That Girl. I also watched her interviews from the '80s over and over, until I could replicate her facial gestures and voice inflections. Guy and I would sit down for hours rehearsing before we filmed. I even rehearsed speaking like her while walking down the street—I'm sure people thought I was crazy, but it was worth it.

GG: She hadn't done very much acting and I knew that this was going to take some training and patience on my part, but her look was so perfect, that whatever it was going to take to get her there, I was in—and so was she. I submerged her in acting lessons, drumming lessons, guitar lessons and even dialect and body movement coaching.

I had her watch old Madonna interviews in order to grasp her body language and over all demeanor. However, I didn't want a caricature of "Madonna" either. I knew that Madonna didn't spend her pre-fame days always "on" or moving and acting the way she does in a music video—she was a normal person with insecurities, vulnerabilities and uncertainties about where her life was headed.

We also had a lot of audio recordings of Madonna talking with Dan Gilroy, which was extremely helpful, as her accent and way of speaking was very different, as she was a recent transplant to New York City from Michigan. And although she was intelligent, she was also silly and fun. She was very expressive, inquisitive, and not at all afraid to let her vulnerable side show—which might not be what people think she would have been like.

WCT: Is it true that a copy of the film has been sent to Madonna?

GG: That's a rumor, among other rumors, that aren't true. People want gossip and tabloid information and there's nothing like that happening here. Madonna is clearly aware of the film, as it has been in the press all over the world, and the fans are constantly tagging her with posts from our social media pages.

I hope that she sees that what we are doing is being done with love and admiration, and that she sees the film and enjoys reminiscing about those days. According to Dan and the other band mates, it was a wonderful magical time, and if you listen to Madonna's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, it is clear that she still has a fondness and appreciation for Dan and Ed Gilroy and those formative and supportive years at synagogue.

WCT: What are some misconceptions about Madonna that the film brings to light?

JA: Well, I don't want to spoil too much, but I will say people don't give Madonna the artistic credit she deserves. There seems to be this misconception that fame found her. As viewers will see, this is the furthest from the truth. She experienced many setbacks and heartaches, but she refused to let anything stand in her way.

GG: I think the biggest misconception is that Madonna's entrance into the music industry was somehow based on her using people and using her sexuality to somehow gain access. In my opinion, after having done extensive interviews, beyond what is even shown in the film, Madonna didn't use anyone. She had goals, she had a path and she worked with people as they all learned and grew together as artists. She had a level of ambition for achieving success in the entertainment industry that superseded most of the people she was working with at that time.

Madonna wasn't as cold as people like to paint her. ... She had a very sensitive heart and, as I saw in some of the letters she wrote to Dan, she wore that heart on her sleeve. However, she was serious about where she wanted to go, and business success was a very separate thing from personal relationships. This quality in a man would be admired, but in a woman in our culture at the time—and maybe still today—that quality is seen as "bitch."

WCT: What do you hope true-blue Madonna fans take from the movie?

JA: I hope fans see I portrayed Madonna with nothing but the utmost respect. It wasn't a role I took lightly, and my intention wasn't to stir the pot with any skeptical fans. I hope her fans can learn to love her even more once they get a glimpse into the struggles she had. … Madonna is quirky, compassionate and a true nonconformist, in the best way.

GG: I know that the true blue fans already feel a deep love and attachment to Madonna, but I hope that this will add another layer for them in that they can see and hear—through firsthand accounts— what those early days were really like and how hard she worked to become the performer and presence that she is today.

As I said, we filmed this in the actual synagogue, through the same streets of Corona, at her real home and surroundings in Michigan, and at the Music Building in NYC where she lived and rehearsed, with an actress that arguably looks more like Madonna than any other person on earth. I think all of this combined will give the audience as close to an impression of reality that I think one could ever get in regard to this story Madonna and the Breakfast Club.

Madonna and the Breakfast Club will be released across digital and on-demand platforms March 12.


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