Mary-Louise Parker Bridges the Canyon Between Stage and Film

"I chose this job and it has been really good to me," Mary-Louise Parker says. Very good indeed.

Last year, the 26-year-old Parker received a Tony nomination for Craig Lucas' romantic comedy "Prelude to a Kiss" and had a meaty role in the acclaimed "American Playhouse" feature "Longtime Companion."

This holiday season, Parker is appearing in two big movies: Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon," as Kevin Kline's secretary/mistress, and as an abused Southern wife in "Fried Green Tomatoes."

"They're very different characters," Parker says. "I shot them back-to-back. I had two days, my big vacation, in between films. But it was great. I love to work. I really prefer to work than sit. I don't have a job now."

With movie stardom looming on the horizon, Parker's heart still belongs to the theater. "I haven't done a lot of film," she explains. "I don't know if I have such a handle on it like the way I do theater. I didn't even know what a light meter was. Aside from the work, there are so many really corny, stupid, ridiculous, romantic things about the theater which I love."

Of course, she has no plans to move out to Los Angeles. "There's no reason for it," she insists. "But I don't want to come down on L.A. because I have already done that many times and quite loudly."

Parker, who has been romantically linked with her "Prelude" leading man, Timothy Hutton, attended the North Carolina School of the Arts before heading to New York. Success didn't come easy, but she refuses to admit she ever struggled.

"I went without. I lived in neighborhoods that were questionable, but struggle is such a big word to me. I attach the word struggle to people who don't have arms or legs. I was hanging out in New York. I can't call what I went through a struggle. It sounds kind of shallow when you say that."

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