Anyone thumbing through a list of the past year’s new faces might well conclude: The talent’s there--but where’s the glamour? Then, a moment later; Wait a minute. What about this one?
Kelly Le Brock.
For whatever it is that Kelly Le Brock isn’t--and she isn’t yet a name and she isn’t yet a threat to Meryl Streep and she isn’t yet on top of every producer’s Wanted List--glamorous she is.
Sultry, too--well, sort of sultry--with a mouth made to take three-decker sandwiches and eyes that are challenging and a bold demeanor that has its own sexuality.
In an age when so many attractive actresses go out of their way to look dowdy, both on screen and off, to convince us of their dedication to their craft, it’s good to see a woman who is unafraid to flaunt her beauty and who is clearly happy to turn men’s heads in restaurants.
Like Kelly Le Brock.
Of course if you didn’t happen to see “The Woman in Red” last year her name will have about the same impact on you as the Moscow street directory. But even those who missed the movie must surely have seen those advertisements that showed her with her red skirt billowing high over an air vent. Billy Wilder, who dreamed up that same scene for Marilyn Monroe many years ago, probably thought of suing--but even he would have to admit that it was still provocative.
That was Le Brock’s introduction to the movies--courtesy of her husband, Victor Drai, who produced “The Woman in Red,” and Gene Wilder, who directed it.
Since then she has starred in another film--"Weird Science,” written and directed by John Hughes (“The Breakfast Club”). It’s a story about a couple of kids who, with the aid of a computer and a Barbie doll, conjure up their dream girl. Guess who she turns out to be? Right first time.
“I didn’t want to do it at first,” said Le Brock, reclining gracefully on a green sofa in her Beverly Hills house. She reclines beautifully.
“See, I was in the South of France with Victor while he was making ‘The Bride’ last summer and I was having a great time and I didn’t want to think about work. So even though I liked the script of ‘Weird Science’ I said no. Another actress got the role and I forgot about it. Then when I got home they called me. There was a problem with the other actress, apparently. Two hours later I was on a plane for Chicago to start filming. I was terrified. . . .”
She’s now seen the movie, which has one more scene to be shot, and feels good about it.
“When I saw it I didn’t just watch myself so I know it must be good,” she said. “The first time I saw ‘The Woman in Red’ I had to rush to a restroom and throw up. I was that nervous. Remember, I’d never seen myself on the screen before. It’s quite different from modeling.”
Le Brock, who has a French-Canadian father and an Irish mother, was a model for some time both in London, where she grew up, and in New York where she was with the Eileen Ford agency.
“I modeled for a long time,” she said, “but I was bored with it after two years.”
Finally, she landed a contract with Dior, which required her to work only 30 days a year.
“That’s when I began coming to Los Angeles a lot,” she said. “I liked it. And on one of my trips I met Victor at a dinner party. I didn’t know who he was so afterwards I checked up. (Drai had recently broken up a long relationship with actress Jacqueline Bisset.) After I learned that, people said: ‘Oh, you look just like her.’ Anyway, next time I came to L.A. I called him. And last year we got married.”
But it was not until Gilda Radner (now Gene Wilder’s wife) spoke up at a dinner party and said: “Wouldn’t it be interesting if Kelly played ‘The Woman in Red’?” that anyone thought seriously about it.
Wilder tested her. The test was very good.
Pleased with her performance, and her notices, in “The Woman in Red,” Drai suggested she might try for his new movie, “The Bride,” in which Sting is Dr. Frankenstein. The director, Franc Roddam, asked her if she would test. She said no.
“I was scared,” she said. “I’d just made the one film and I thought ‘The Bride’ would be too much for me.”
Now, much to her amusement, she learns that her movie “Weird Science” will open on exactly the same day as “The Bride"--Aug. 2.