What the Hell Happened to Kelly McGillis?
McGillis appeared once again on the big screen in the English Western, Painted Angels also known as The Wicked Wicked West. Brenda Fricker starred as a stern madame at a bordello in the 1870’s. The story depicts the things women had to do in order to survive life in the Wild West. The movie was released under different names on different dates in several countries before making its US debut on home video.
McGillis ended a busy year with the direct-to-video disaster movie, Ground Control. Kiefer Sutherland starred as a disgraced air traffic controller who is called back to duty to help with a staff shortage on New Year’s Eve. Not all of his former colleagues are glad to see him back. But his help is needed when a storm knocks out power in Chicago. Bruce McGill, Robert Sean Leonard and Kristy Swanson costarred.
In 1999, McGillis made her first appearance in a mainstream Hollywood movie since North five years earlier. At First Sight reunited the actress with one of her Top Gun costars. Val Kilmer starred as a blind masseur who meets and falls for a girl played by Mira Sorvino. When the two start dating, Sorvino encourages her new beau to undergo an operation to regain his eyesight. McGillis played Kilmer’s protective sister who lives next door.
Earlier, I said that Val Kilmer’s career woes weren’t yet apparent. Flops like At First Sight were warning signs that his time on the A-list was growing short. But McGillis, this was her most substantial role in a Hollywood movie since The Babe in 1992.
Later that year, McGillis costarred opposite John C. Reilly and William Fichtner in the black comedy, The Settlement. Fichtner and Reilly played two unscrupulous businessmen whose business is based on the real-life practice of buying up insurance policies from terminal patients at a discount and cashing them in when they die. Unfortunately for them, new treatments for terminal diseases such as AIDS are allowing their clients to live longer which is ruining their business. McGillis plays a mysterious woman with a $2 million dollar life insurance policy who may be more healthy than she lets on.
At some point, there are certain shows that start popping up in a What the Hell Happened article. The Outer Limits was one of those shows. McKillis appeared in the two-part finale to season six of the Canadian revival of the sci-fi anthology series, Final Appeal. The episode is unusual in that it serves as a sequel to the second season premiere, Stitch in Time. In that episode, Amanda Plummer played a time traveler who went back in time to kill serial killers before they could harm their victims. In the two-part follow-up, Plummer’s character is put on trial for her actions. The cast for the episode included Cicely Tyson, Swoosie Kurtz, Robert Loggia, Hal Holbrook and Charlton Heston.
Later that year, McGillis starred in the thriller, The Monkey’s Mask. Susie Porter played an out-of-work private investigator who takes up the case of a missing student. Her investigation leads her to the girl’s poetry instructor played by McGillis. McGillis takes her on a tour of the lesbian underworld the missing student inhabited. When the girl turns up dead, Porter continues looking for the killer. As the investigation continues she becomes romantically involved with McGillis.
The movie was coproduced by several countries including Australia, Canada, France and Japan. It was based on a book of the same name by Australian poet Dorothy Porter.
The following year, McGillis starred in the thriller, No One Can Hear You. McGillis played an investigative reporter who is working on a story about a serial killer. The authorities try to warn her to back off the case, but McGillis feels obligated to warn people of the danger they are in. As she follows the clues, she realizes that she may have put herself and her family in danger.
Later that year, McGillis starred opposite Billy Zane in the romantic drama, Morgan’s Ferry. Zane played one of three escaped convicts who hide out in McGillis’ home. At first, she is a hostage in her own home, but eventually she develops romantic feelings for Zane and aids his efforts to escape on a ferry.
Next: Divorce and Civil Union