My Secret Life: Molly Ringwald, 44, actor, novelist & singer

'I wish I'd never worn that prom dress'

My parents were… very encouraging and nurturing and still are.

The household I grew up in… was modest, full of music and smelt like freshly-baked bread.

If I could change one thing about myself… it would be my inclination toward anxiety, and if I could go back in time to the age of 10, then I would decide not to quit my piano lessons.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… singing jazz, making very complicated culinary dishes that require a lot of preparation and take forever, and making beautiful children.

At night I dream of… the kind of things that I feel it would only be fair to bore my shrink with.

I wish I had never worn… that prom dress.

What I see when I look in the mirror… is very familiar to me.

It's not fashionable but I like… big old Hollywood movie musicals. I watched them over and over with my mother while growing up. Everything seems manageable once you sing a song and tap dance about it – preferably on the arm of Gene Kelly.

I drive… a big car because I have a big family. If I didn't I would be driving a tiny car – possibly a white Stingray à la Joan Didion circa 1969.

My house is… artfully-designed chaos that I attempt to fashion as much as I can after the answer to the next question.

My favourite building… The Eames Case Study House No 8 in Santa Monica. But I would like it even better if I were living in it.

A book that changed me… The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. His devotion to storytelling and his passion for the invisible connections that bind us all together have moved and inspired me. His eloquence, too, is dizzying.

Movie heaven… A night of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria and Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups and Singin' in the Rain.

The last song or album I bought/downloaded… Charlotte Gainsbourg's collaboration with Beck, "IRM".

My greatest regret… is that I didn't take Toni Morrison up on her offer to audit her class at Princeton University.

My secret crush… Stephen Colbert.

My real-life villains… Someone whose identity, if revealed, would result in having my powers stripped, rendering me unable to effectively fight them.

The person who really makes me laugh… is my husband.

The last time I cried… I'm crying right now.

My five-year plan… Writing more books, acting in more films and somehow surviving my daughter's teen years.

A life in brief

Molly Ringwald was born in California in 1968. She has been on the stage since the age of three, had her first professional role when she was 10, and starred in her first movie, Tempest, aged 13. As a teenager in the 1980s, she won fame with now iconic roles in John Hughes' movies Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Now also a writer and singer, she plays the parent of a problem teen in the American TV show, The Secret Life of an American Teenager. Her novel, When it Happens to You, is out now

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