Between 19 she starred in The Witches of Eastwick, Tequila Sunrise, Married to the Mob, and Dangerous Liaisons, for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, The Russia House, and The Fabulous Baker Boys, for which she received a nomination as Best Actress, a nomination repeated in her 1992 starring role in Love Field.
In 1992, Pfeiffer also co-starred in Batman Returns as Catwoman; later, Pfeiffer portrayed a number of leading roles in films such as Dangerous Minds (1995), What Lies Beneath (2000), Hairspray (2007), and Dark Shadows (2012).
The film was a critical and commercial failure, and Pfeiffer's single release of "Cool Rider" from the film's soundtrack on Poly Gram failed to dent the music charts.
Nevertheless, Pfeiffer received some positive attention for her performance, notably from The New York Times, which said "although she is a relative screen newcomer, Miss Pfeiffer manages to look much more insouciant and comfortable than anyone else in the cast".
in the meantime, I was playing bimbos and cashing in on my looks." before appearing in three further television movies – Callie and Son (1981) with Lindsay Wagner, The Children Nobody Wanted (1981), and a 1981 TV movie remake of Splendor in the Grass.