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On View : Two Women of ‘Prison’ : The Hard-Core Topic of HBO’s New Trilogy Upset Lolita Davidovich

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lolita Davidovich was suffering from a case of jet lag.

“I am still on Moscow clock,” she said.

Davidovich first came to the attention of movie audiences 13 months ago as famed stripper Blaze Starr opposite Paul Newman in “Blaze.”

Davidovich had returned from the Soviet Union after a four-month trip to film “The Projectionist,” starring Tom Hulce and Bob Hoskins.

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“It was a brutal experience, absolutely brutal,” Davidovich said. “It’s very strange there. The homes are like tiny apartments and most of the buildings have low ceilings. It is living worse than the worst of New York. There are so few phone lines, you cannot dial direct home. You have to reserve a call a minimum of two to three days in advance. It feels like being on a different planet.”

Before Davidovich flew to the Soviet Union, she filmed “Parole Board,” the last episode of HBO’s “Prison Stories: Women on the Inside,” in which she plays a mother who murders her abusive husband.

Joan Micklin Silver of “Chilly Scenes of Winter” and “Crossing Delancey” directed.

“I knew I was doing this Russian thing when I was shooting the HBO show,” Davidovich said. “They bore a likeness to each other. I knew that Russia was going to be much the same experience as prison: corrupt within, isolated and brutal.”

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Davidovich went to the California Institution for Women near Chino to meet women who had murdered their husbands.

“Most of them are middle- to upper-middle-class white women,” she said. "(I read that) the reason why it is not the lower classes is because the men generally leave when there are problems. I guess white women with education would be more conservative and tenacious in making a marriage work and hoping he will change.”

Though Davidovich has nothing but praise for director Micklin Silver (“a great, bright lady”), she found making the downbeat drama an upsetting experience.

“It was a horrible nightmare,” she said. “You are in a very sober frame of mind. I was sleeping very poorly.”

Her character in “Parole Board” is a 360-degree turn from “Blaze.” Davidovich said she thought she would be typecast voluptuous after “Blaze.”

“But it seemed liked when I would go on meetings, in most cases, I was a disappointment physically. I could tell by the looks on their faces. So immediately, the physical stigma of that type of character was gone and they thought of me as more of myself.”


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