Teri Hatcher: The Hunger
In 1996, Teri Hatcher was playing Lois Lane on “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”. She also had the distinction of being the most downloaded image in the early days of the internet. She had appeared in some movies prior to becoming famous, but when Stephen Rebello interviewed Hatcher for the October issue of Movieline magazine, she was trying to transition from TV into movies. Unlike a lot of actresses Rebello had interviewed, Hatcher wasn’t shy about her ambition.
Note: The interview makes reference to a David Schwimmer called Dogwater. When the movie was actually released, it was retitled Since You’ve Been Gone.
Teri Hatcher turns up at the high-end Beverly Hills restaurant where we’re meeting right on time, though at first I don’t recognize her. As she thrusts out her tiny hand, saying, “Hi, I’m Teri.” I realize it’s her new cinnamon-colored locks, shorn gamine-short, that throw me. When she slides her sleek, 106-pound figure across the banquette opposite me, she notices my attempt to adjust to her new Who’s-that-girl? look. “It’s all right.” she reassures me. “I haven’t decided whether I like it or not, either.” Before I can weigh in with an opinion, her pal David Spade drops by our table and scans her hair and face for signs of Teri.
“You hate it, don’t you?” she says, to preempt whatever he might say, then adds, “It’s for the movie.”
“Who do you play in it?” Spade jibes. “The Riddler?”
“It’s a guy thing, isn’t it?” she asks after Spade moves on. “Guys like long hair. It’s for the movie, you guys.”
Ah. yes, anything for the movies. Hatcher’s got one feature coming out. 2 Days in the Valley, in which she stars with Jeff Daniels, Eric Stoltz and Glenne Headly, and another, Dogwater, in the works, but before we talk about her movies. I have to tell Hatcher that, from some angles, the new hairdo gives her face a Julia Roberts-ish cast. “I know,” she says, laughing. “As Tinkerbell in Hook, right? Great! I have to emulate the worst movie she ever made.”
Hatcher’s behavior brings me to a key reason why I wanted to chat with this bona fide TV star (“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” for you movies-only purists) who is inching her way into films after a few false starts. She’s willing. See, one thing I’m very much over is those young, would-be stars who do all they can to act us if stardom means nothing lo them. The types who treat a premiere or interview like martyrs enduring the pains of hell. The ones who refuse to turn up the star wattage on screen. Who won’t wash. Hatcher has none of these annoying affectations. She shows up for photo ops looking spectacular, she seems to enjoy being a celebrity, and, happily, she has a wild, unbridled side to her. She ably guest-hosted “Saturday Night Live,” won kudos for her deft handling of copresenter Tom Arnold’s meltdown at the Golden Globes, and instantly achieved a kind of immortality guest-starring on “Seinfeld” as the doll with the perfect breasts. On the movie screen, the few ticket buyers who caught her venal, Cajun femme fatale in Heaven’s Prisoners saw the raw, in-your-face delight with which she played a nasty piece of work. In short, Hatcher strikes me as a woman who goes at her career hammer and tongs. Consider today: all in the last 15 hours she flew in from the Chicago set of her newest film, underwent a root canal, stopped in at a beauty spa, and turned up for our chat ready to boogie.
And now, back to Hatcher’s justification for her red Tinkerbell ‘do. “When you’re on a series nine months of the year looking a certain way, it’s really important to remind people there’s more to you, you know? I didn’t want audiences to walk into Dogwater and spend a half hour going, ‘It’s Lois Lane in a movie with a bunch of other people,’ [Director] David [Schwimmer] and I felt that this look would be legitimate for someone who turns up for a class reunion in a Christian Lacroix gown, but who inside is a hard, hard person who in the end faces how lonely and insecure she is. It was exciting to go to the dailies [and] see a different person up there. Our French director of photography said, when he shot me, that the gown made me look sort of Audrey Hepburnish. Now, I, Teri, barely even know who Christian Lacroix is.”
Uh-oh. Don’t tell me she’s going to try and pull one of those I’m just-a-simple-barefoot-girl-who-doesn’t-give-a-hoot-about-haute lines. Last month she was on this magazine’s list of the “Ten Best-Dressed Actresses in Hollywood.” “I probably go to fewer parties and premieres than anyone else I know,” she protests. Uh-huh. “OK,” she concedes. “I do have a sense of style–I can look at something simple and know that it’s beautiful. I like to dress up in things that are simple and classic, but let’s just say I’m fortunate enough to have access to great people who dress me. People are all the time telling me stuff about Gucci, Todd Oldham, Dolce & Gabbana or whatever. Half the time I’ve heard of them, half the time I haven’t.”
As our waitress asks if we care to order drinks, Hatcher tosses me a pointed look and says, “Well, if you won’t now report that Teri Hatcher is a lush, it is the end of the week, so I’d like to order a glass of very nice red wine, which I love.” She orders something impeccably French. Then, for dinner, she chooses a full-on meal, with sides of this and that, so our talk turns to how the tabloid papers and TV shows keep claiming she has an eating disorder. She looks me dead in the eye and says, “I have no idea where any of this garbage started, whether it’s about an eating disorder, or that my husband and I are getting divorced, or that I’m a bitch. It’s so not true, [but] all of my hometown has been on ‘Hard Copy’ with their 15 minutes of fame. The bitch and the divorce stuff is the least of it, though. I’m not anorexic. I’m naturally thin, I’ve always been thin, I’m always gonna be thin.
So, I tease, she won’t finish her meal with a quick sprint to the ladies’ room? “Oh, stop, that’s not even funny,” she scolds. “People have that disease [bulimia] and I’m really sensitive to it.” With that, Hatcher starts to mock-leap out of her seat, saying. “I’ll be right back.” Sitting back down, she admits, “Now I’m sorry I even mentioned a tabloid show name. I don’t want to give them any extra publicity. I also think those tabloids are [just] picture-oriented–they get hold of a picture and write a story around it. I could lean over on the set of ‘Lois & Clark’ and kiss Dean goodnight, someone could sell it, and then there’s a tabloid headline: ‘Hatcher and Cain Having Affair.’ Or the reverse: somebody snaps a picture of us standing there not looking at each other with our arms folded, waiting around for a shot to be set up, and suddenly, we’re having a big fight. They like to build you up, then tear you down.
“Seriously,” she continues, “it’s really nice right now between Dean and me. He’s off doing his first real movie with Drew Barrymore. He called me two nights ago, and we talked for 45 minutes. Drew has been around a lot and I think she can offer a lot of acting experience to him. It was wonderful hearing him tell me how this or that had happened on the set and I found myself going, ‘I’m not so bad, am I? You thought I was nutso but I’m not really, am I?’ It makes me feel really good that he’s come to appreciate me more than maybe he did initially, that now he really thinks I’m cool and a great actress. I don’t think that he always thought that.”
Before hitting it big with Dean Cain in “Lois & Clark,” Hatcher had appeared on The Love Boat” (as a singing mermaid) as well as on “MacGyver” and “Capitol.” Those TV turns led to roles in such flicks as The Big Picture, Straight Talk, Tango & Cash, the abysmal Andrew Dice Clay movie Brain Smasher…A Love Story and Soapdish. On hiatus from “Lois & Clark,” she went the bad-girl route in Heaven’s Prisoners opposite Alec Baldwin. So, movie stardom, it appears, is a goal, no? “I’d probably be a little nutty if I hadn’t been fortunate enough to get to do a movie every year for the past three,” she admits. “But if I hadn’t gotten ‘Lois & Clark,’ who knows whether any producer would have ever given me a job again? Now, sure, I watch people in movies and go, ‘I can be this good. I could be in this movie.’ I’ll be available [full time] for movies in a few years, and hopefully my looks will last long enough. But, right now, this is where I am, and I’m really happy with that.”
How exactly did she land the role of the wanton Claudette in director Phil Joanou’s Heaven’s Prisoners? “I slept with him, which is how I get all my parts,” she says. “No, just kidding! I stressed out about going up for that, because I work 14 hours a day on the series and it’s hard to truly prepare like I like to for such a drastically different role. Anyway, the first thing I said when I went in to read for [Joanou] was, ‘I see this role as Blanche Dubois meets Lena Olin in Romeo Is Bleeding,’ and he said, ‘That’s not how I see it at all.’ It went downhill from there.”
She shakes her head at the memory, then continues, “My husband was waiting for me in the car and we went to a little Italian restaurant. All the way, I kept telling him. ‘I just sucked. I’m the worst actress in the world. How could I blow that?’ Alan Greisman, who coproduced Soapdish, was there at the restaurant too, and when he came over to say hi, I told him, ‘I’ve just had the worst audition of my life for Heaven’s Prisoners.’ He said. ‘That’s my movie.’ I said, ‘Phil hates me,’ but he arranged anyway for another meeting. So, I went back in and met with Alec [Baldwin] and we got along well. I don’t know why all Alec’s movies don’t make millions of dollars. He is so underrated, up there with the very best. And, although I didn’t think the movie was going to be a hit, I had such a wonderful journey as an actress that I didn’t care.”
Hatcher’s notices were nothing to sneeze at, but surely it wouldn’t hurt to have a box-office hit on her record. Isn’t she after big movie stardom? “The only thing ‘movie star’ means to me is getting first crack at the few great scripts that come along every year,” she says. “I admire Jennifer Jason Leigh for not choosing to be a big movie star–she’s having the kind of career I would think of myself as wanting.
“When I have fantasies about working with great people, it’s usually with women. For instance, if Jodie Foster ever knew me, she would find me similar to her in business and creative commitment, passion and drive. There are a lot of women I’d like to be in business with, particularly Goldie Hawn, who I’d love to have produce a romantic comedy starring me. My God, if you print that, they’ll think I really am arrogant and horrible.”