Sunday, January 13, 2002

Three with Hollywood pedigree in 'Orange County'

The Associated Press

        As in any family business, the movie industry often sees offspring follow their parents into their profession.

        The new teen comedy Orange County brings together three second-generation film folks: Co-stars Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks' son) and Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek and production designer Jack Fisk) and director Jake Kasdan (filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan's son).

        “It was this insane coincidence,” said Jake Kasdan, whose previous credits include Zero Effect and episodes of the TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. “We had a good laugh about it, then said, "OK, let's make our movie.' ”

        Hollywood has always been something of a land of pedigree: There's the Barrymore clan, now headlined by Drew Barrymore; Walter Huston, son John, and John's daughter Anjelica; Douglas Fairbanks and Lon Chaney and their namesake sons; Charles Chaplin and daughter Geraldine; Lloyd Bridges and his sons Jeff and Beau; Kirk Douglas and son Michael; Judy Garland and daughter Liza Minnelli; Jon Voight and daughter Angelina Jolie.

        Ms. Fisk figures the coincidental teaming of three Hollywood offspring on Orange County is not that surprising.

        “At first I was like, that's really interesting,” she said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was bound to happen. There's so many second-generation people in any business, doing what their parents do.”

        The difference for Hollywood offspring is that audiences of millions may be comparing them to their parents. Overcoming that, said Colin Hanks, is a matter of building a body of his own work so comparisons to his father will wane.

        “This will die down eventually. It's just because this is my first big movie in the spotlight. This is sort of my ta-da unveiling,” Mr. Hanks said. “Really, I've been dealing with this for years, and I got over it a long time ago. I say "dealing with it,' but believe me, this is not a burden by any means.”

        In Orange County, Mr. Hanks stars as a teen desperate to attend Stanford. When a series of mishaps bump him from the acceptance rolls, he goes to extremes to get in, with help from his girlfriend (Ms. Fisk) and his dopehead brother (Jack Black).

        Mr. Hanks, 24, had a walk-on bit in his father's directing debut, That Thing You Do! and appeared in HBO's Band of Brothers, for which Tom Hanks was an executive producer. Colin Hanks also co-starred in the film Get Over It and was a regular on the TV series Roswell.

        More so than Mr. Kasdan and Ms. Fisk, Mr. Hanks has grown tired of the second-generation questions and worries that it might overshadow the movie itself. Driving to the premiere of Orange County, he heard a radio spot mentioning a contest for tickets to the movie “starring Jack Black and Tom Hanks' son,” Mr. Hanks said.

        “Personally, yes, I am sick of it,” Mr. Hanks said. “But I totally understand that it's a point of interest. It would be a point of interest to me if I was looking at the thing as a third party. It's one of those scenarios where if it gets more people to see the movie, I know that's a good thing.”

        Mr. Kasdan, 27, grew up on movie sets, and his father slipped him into several of his films, including The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist. Ms. Fisk, 19, recalls going to work with her mother as a child.

        “When I was probably 8 or 9, my mom would do these movies, and there'd be kids my age playing her kids,” Ms. Fisk said. “I was like, "Mom, I want to do this. Why can't I?' She'd say, "Honey, you can do this for the rest of your life. Believe me, for now, you just want to have a normal childhood, and wait a little bit.' ”

        When she was 12, Ms. Fisk landed the lead in The Baby-Sitters Club, but it was not until two years ago — when she moved to Los Angeles and appeared in Snow Day and Skeletons in the Closet — that she really committed to the profession.

        “People always used to introduce me as Sissy Spacek's daughter. Sometimes they didn't even say my name. It used to really bother me,” Ms. Fisk said. “I'd want to tell people I'm not just a little Sissy Spacek. I'm Schuyler. I've come to realize to an extent that you have to earn your own name, and I don't mind so much now that people have preconceived ideas. I'm proud of my mom. She's one of my best friends.”

        While Ms. Fisk has only seen her mother in the good times, as one of her generation's most acclaimed actresses, she's also aware of Ms. Spacek's early struggles as an unemployed actress.

        “I want her to be happy, and the industry has been good to me,” Ms. Spacek said. “I wanted to be sure she's doing it for the right reasons, because she loves it, and not to be a star.”

        Kevin Kline, who has a cameo in Orange County, appeared with wife Phoebe Cates and their two children as a family in last year's The Anniversary Party.

        As with Fisk and Spacek, Mr. Kline said his children have only seen the flush years, not their father's hard times before stardom. That might make them more inclined to follow their parents into show business, Mr. Kline said.

        “So they're like, "Hey, nice life. You just go to beautiful, exotic places, you get a lot of free food and stay in nice hotels. What a life. Let's do that,' ” Mr. Kline said. “I could disabuse them of that delusion from my own experiences.

        “If they wanted to be actors, I hope by the time they're old enough to make that decision, they will have seen the reality and maybe be turned off by it,” Mr. Kline said. “The thing about actors, you should only do it if you can't not do it. It has to be some kind of compulsion, obsession.”

        Having a famous parent may get a foot in the door for auditions, but success only comes with talent, hard work and luck, Mr. Hanks, Ms. Fisk and Mr. Kasdan said.

        The big advantage to growing up around the industry is the insider's perspective it lends, Mr. Kasdan said.

        “That's how I learned how to make movies and watch movies,” he said. “It was this incredible education that almost nobody else gets. Unbelievable access, unbelievable dinner-table conversations. That whole part of it, that's where it helped me.”


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