"When I was growing up, none of my friends knew anything about him," Donovan Leitch recalls of his father, '60s pop star Donovan. "When I got to be a teen-ager, people began saying, 'Oh, Donovan's your dad.' "
Although he swears he pounded the pavements after high school like every other starting-out actor, Leitch (who appeared in the 1991 film "The Doors") admits the family name was an advantage: "My agents would send me to casting directors who were of the '60s and say, 'Remember Donovan? Want to meet his son?' So it got me in the door. But it didn't get me any jobs."
Leitch, 24, is currently appearing in Betsy F. Thomas' "Us & Them" at the Hudson Theatre, playing one of four twentysomething Hollywood roommates ("Twin Peaks' " Dana Ashbrook co-stars), working in different areas of showbiz but clinging to the emotional safety of their communal nest. "My character, Stu, is the most anal-retentive," says the actor. "He's always trying to keep the place clean--and he's the most career-minded."
The stage detour is a first for Leitch, who is awaiting the release of four films this year: playing a "cool drama geek" in "Gun Crazy" with Drew Barrymore (his three-years-younger sister, Ione Skye, also co-stars), a '70s glam rocker in "Gas, Food, Lodging" (again with Skye), "Dark Horse" with Mimi Rogers and "Jack the Bear" with Danny De Vito. Leitch and Skye have also written a movie for themselves, "Ramble On."
Born in England, Leitch moved to the United States at age 3 when his parents divorced, and saw his father very little growing up. A few years ago, his and Skye's estrangement from Donovan pere made for "nasty press" in the tabloids; since then, says the actor, "we all get along really well. You know, I'm about the same age he was when my parents split up--and he was at the height of his career. That kind of fame is unreal. I don't think he understood the concept of family."