Rafe Spall: ‘Madonna came up and started grinding me. A circle formed’

Rafe Spall: ‘Madonna came up and started grinding me. A circle formed’May 2, 2021

For all the standing ovations, Hollywood roles and parties with stars, nothing beats the rough and tumble of real life for actor Rafe Spall

The play was going well. It was going very well, a Broadway production of Pinter’s Betrayal, starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz as a married couple and Rafe Spall as her lover – the last thing Mike Nichols directed before he died. It was a hit; so much so that one night Madonna invited the cast round for dinner. “So I went to dinner,” says Spall.

He is telling the story with relish, leaning into his laptop camera as if we’re slightly pissed on a Sunday and our families have drifted off to watch telly. “And Madonna was dressed as Madonna, a gold grill and fingerless gloves. I was feeling quite confident, because I’ve just done the show and I was like, I’m going to pretend to Madonna that I’m not scared of her.” After dinner the tables were pushed to the side to make a dancefloor, “and Lourdes is on the iPad playing tunes. So I started dancing and Madonna came up and started, well… grinding me. Very close. I suppose ‘dutty wining’ would be the phrase? My wife was there… [actor Elize du Toit, they’ve been married since 2010, three kids, recently moved from London to Stroud] And she looked at me like, ‘The fuck?’ My torso was pouring with sweat. And in my mind I was saying, don’t back down. So I looked her in the eye and said to myself, ‘Yeah, this is me.’” Soon after, a dance circle formed. “With Madonna on a literal throne. And all of the dancers from her tour were in a circle around her. And she said, ‘Rafe, get in the circle!’ So I was like, ‘Don’t back down, this is you.’ So I got in the middle of the circle of Madonna and the best dancers in the world. And I danced in there for three minutes.”

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