Motherhood is foremost on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ mind this summer.
“I am going to be a mom and a career person,” said Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Jerry Seinfeld’s ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes on NBC’s cult comedy series “Seinfeld.”
At the time of this interview, Louis-Dreyfus, 31, was in her last month of pregnancy. Her husband is Brad Hall, a writer-producer on CBS’ “Brooklyn Bridge.” The two appeared together on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” 1982-85.
Contemplating life as a working mom, Louis-Dreyfus said: “It’s going to be hilarious. I have no idea what I am doing.” But she certainly knows how to get the laughs on the clever, witty “Seinfeld.” She said doing the series is a far more pleasurable experience than “SNL.” “It was very difficult being a woman doing ‘Saturday Night Live’ because women simply weren’t written for.”
Louis-Dreyfus knew from an early age she wanted to act. While attending Northwestern University, she appeared in Chicago at the famed Second City and the Practical Theatre Company, where she and Hall were discovered by “SNL” producers.
“They hired us and off we went to New York the next week,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “I wasn’t even graduated from college yet.”
Louis-Dreyfus, who was a regular on NBC’s “Day By Day” and has appeared in the films “Soul Man” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” said she is a far more confident actress now.
“I feel supported. It is such a relaxed atmosphere. The material is so good. There is a lot of mutual respect going on which is nice from a creative point of view, because you feel free to make mistakes or try anything and know you will still be respected when you screw up.”
“Seinfeld,” she said, has been a great boost to her career. “More (roles) are available to me now, but frankly, because I am with child I am completely unavailable to do anything. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year when I become available.”
Louis-Dreyfus gave birth to Henry Hall on June 30.
Robert Pastorelli, who plays Murphy Brown’s colorful house painter and Lamaze coach Eldin Bernecky, has mixed feelings about Vice President Dan Quayle’s comments blasting the morals of the CBS comedy.
The New Jersey-born actor, in fact, has softened his feelings.
“I had made some comments that I wanted to box him and things,” he said. “But you see, for me to comment just gives more weight to what he says. I think at this point, unless he doesn’t want to accept my challenge to box, no comment is my comment.”
Pastorelli, 37, was in Pittsburgh filming the Bruce Willis thriller “Three Rivers,” in which he plays a cop who “doesn’t appear to be who is he.”
The burly actor, said he always tries to play characters 360 degrees different then Eldin, such as the slovenly Timmons in “Dances With Wolves,” who ends up being scalped by the Indians. “I still get a chill when I watch that myself,” he said, laughing.
Pastorelli said Eldin has changed a lot over four seasons. “At first, I was playing him arty, more in his head,” he said. “It serves me to underplay Eldin because he is a big character and a presence. It is real easy to go over the top with a character like that.”
Richard Brooks, who plays New York assistant district attorney Paul Robinette on NBC’s acclaimed dramatic series “Law & Order,” considers himself blessed.
While many minority performers say their choice of roles is limited, that hasn’t been the case with the Cleveland-born actor.
“I went to high school at Interlocken of the Arts (in Michigan),” Brooks said. “I was one of the only black actors there. I would always get to play any part. No one inhibited me too much. And in film and television, thank God, (the roles) have been a lot of different sorts.”
The intellectual, ambitious Robinette, Brooks said, is special to him because he is a positive male African-American role model. “It is good for everybody to see that a man can be a man and do a job and be successful and be dedicated, but also be a man who is helping his people, too.”
Brooks laughed when he recalled his audition for “Law & Order.” “I had just done a film in Paris and I had a really wild look then,” he said. “I had dreds. It was like Milli Vanilli. It was all back into a ponytail. I bought some nice new suits. I think that struck them as being a little unusual in such a conservative job. I guess I gave a good reading.”
Brent Spiner, who plays the inquisitive android Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” said he enjoyed the original “Star Trek” series, but “my interest was much more in comedy.”
Especially the comedy of Lucille Ball. “I would say definitely if there is any reason that I decided to become an actor it was the episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ when she met William Holden at the Brown Derby,” said the Houston native, who has appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musicals “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Big River.”
“I watched the episode and I thought, ‘I got to get out to Hollywood.’
Spiner, 43, believes Data is essentially a comedic character situated in a dramatic series. He found it pretty funny that Data lost his head in this season’s cliffhanger. “We didn’t play it as if it were comical, but there is something comical about discussing losing your head.”
Spiner doesn’t know what will happen to “Star Trek” after next season. There have been rumors of a possible feature film. “This is our last contract year,” he said. He doubts he will fall victim to typecasting. “I don’t think there are a lot of android parts out there”.
Park Overall had no idea what she was getting herself into four years ago when she signed a contract to play the wisecracking, Southern nurse LaVerne on NBC’s successful sitcom “Empty Nest.”
“I thought I would be in L.A. 10 days doing the pilot,” Overall, 35, said in her strong Tennessee drawl. “I had never heard of (producers) Susan Harris, Paul Witt or Tony Thomas. I had no idea four years later I would have had to move to L.A. and stay here. I was living in New York and doing a lot of stage and enjoying it very much and growing because that stage, of course, is the backbone of all else we do.”
California was surprise to Overall, who has received two Golden Globe nominations for her work as LaVerne. “It is the way people feel about their cars and the kind of homes they have,” she said. “It has been, on some occasions, a painful adjustment. I love California and I love Hollywood despite all the bad things.”
She said it took some time to adjust to her female “Empty Nest” regulars, Kristy McNichol and Dinah Manoff. “It was like the Malibu gals meet Appalachia, but now we are just fine. Richard (Mulligan) has been the lord and master.”
The press, Overall said, has been very good to her. “I was on Carson eight or nine times and Arsenio several times,” she said. “That has been the fun part. The hard part is LaVerne, coming up with the goods and making her funny--trying to keep her from being a one-note Samba.”
Though “Empty Nest” has been renewed for two more seasons, Overall said she has been thinking a lot about life beyond the sitcom.
“I am so thankful I am not a great beauty,” she said. “I think the great beauties have a harder time making a lifetime out of (acting).”
Amy Aquino jokes she is now living the life of a “big fat movie star.”
The graduate of Harvard and the Yale School of Drama, who plays understanding mother Phyllis Silver on CBS’ acclaimed “Brooklyn Bridge,” was looking forward to her trip this month to Italy and Barcelona.
Aquino said her life has changed since “Brooklyn Bridge” premiered last fall. “Not that many people recognize me on the street, but those who do are real stalwarts who are wonderfully loyal fans. Having a weekly pay check is a pleasure. “
Even before she graduated from Yale in 1986, she landed a summer acting job at the La Jolla Playhouse. “I got an agent during that spring who was bicoastal,” she said. That fall, she got her first TV job--she had gone to school with the producer--a recurring role as a wacky maid on NBC’s “Easy Street” with Loni Anderson.
Aquino, who has appeared on and off-Broadway and was featured in the movies “Working Girl” and “Moonstruck,” said she loves playing Phyllis, who is based on series creator Gary David Goldberg’s mother.
“She is really a specific woman,” Aquino said. “She is not like most moms (on TV), so I treat her with the utmost respect. I have done quite a bit of television and features, and some have had pretty high standards. Frankly, the standards are higher on this (show) than on some of the features I have worked on.”
Tall and brunette, Wendie Malick found herself constantly typecast as the “other woman” in countless TV series.
“I tended to be someone who is bitchy,” Malick said. And someone who was not afraid to kill. One season, Malick recalled, in three different series she played a wife who murdered her husband.
For three seasons, Malick has been allowed to show her killer comedic side in HBO’s ribald comedy series “Dream On.” She received cable’s ACE Award this year for her performance.
In “Dream On,” Malick plays psychiatrist Dr. Judith Tupper Stone, the ex-wife of book editor Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) who married a perfect, world-renowned doctor.
“It’s really fun to show the ditsy side of yourself,” she said.
Malick, who had a small part in “Bugsy” as one of the gangster’s conquests, said filming “Dream On” is the most fun she has ever had. “It gets a little nuts sometimes and the hours can be long, but it is a terrific group of people.”
Darren E. Burrows, who plays the sweet, uncomplicated film buff Ed Chigliak on CBS’ top-rated “Northern Exposure,” admits certain of his character’s qualities have rubbed off on him.
“Ed’s great,” said Burrows, who, like Ed, is a Native American. “He is like, ‘Good morning, what a beautiful day,’ even if it is raining. (He is) just taking everything for the good that’s in it, not just that he is ignoring the bad. It’s just he really sees the good in everything. That’s refreshing. We all try to be like that. Doing him everyday definitely wears off on me.”
Because Burrows works 11 months a year on “Northern Exposure,” he doesn’t have time to do any other acting jobs. So he travels the country during his vacations. “Last year I took my pickup truck and just drove all over,” he said. “This year, I went on a motorcycle ride across this half of the United States.
Burrows has always been interested in seeing the world. That’s the reason why he left Kansas (“I kind of just ran away from home”) and moved to L.A.
Burrows got his big break in the 1988 horror film “976-Evil,” directed by Robert Englund of “Nightmare on Elm Sreet” fame. “I got my heart ripped out of my chest,” Burrows said, laughing. “I got killed off, but it got me in the union.”