"I don't think my agents tell me when plays come up," jokes Helen Slater, who's taking a break from her busy film and TV schedule to play nervous bride Moey Bowes in Douglas McGrath's new comedy, "The Big Day," opening next Sunday at the Pasadena Playhouse. "I get to fall apart and be emotional," says the actress, 26, who's married in real life to film editor Rob Watzke. "There's also a big surprise, but I'm not allowed to talk about it."
Slater's other projects are less secretive. The film "Happy Together," in which she stars opposite Patrick Dempsey as mismatched college roomies, opens locally on May 4. After "The Big Day," she's off to Texas to film the dark comedy "In Deep," playing a lawyer who gets romantically involved with her client, a black man. And she's just made her TV debut on the new ABC series "Capital News," as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed cub reporter Anne McKenna.
Research for that role included hanging out with a Times Metro writer and talking with reporters at the Washington Post, on which the series is loosely based. "I think it's amazing," she says of the journalist's life. "As a reporter, you have carte blanche to ask any question. And you'd have to have an unusually pessimistic nature to be constantly dealing with deception. I think it would be wearing after awhile."
Born on Long Island, raised in Maryland and Manhattan, Slater attended New York's prestigious High School for the Performing Arts--before Hollywood beckoned with roles in "Supergirl," "The Legend of Billie Jean," "Ruthless People" and "The Secret of My Success." As for acting, "I love doing it . . . but 80% of the time you're not working. My real desire is to return to school and get a degree. If I could choose any career in the world? I think I'd be an elementary school teacher."