Date: Tue, 06 Jun 1995 18:33:07 -0400
From: KONG WAI LEE <kw_lee@vega.concordia.ca>
To: Multiple recipients of list MSM-L <MSM-L@vm.temple.edu>
Subject: Entertainment Weekly Article II B&J

     From Entertainment Weekly, Issue No. 169. May 7, 1993.
Titled "A Perfect Mismatch"

     Mary Stuart Masterson has experienced love in the movies.
But love at the movies..now that's a very different story.  On
her first movie date, at a showing of Aliens, she barely watched
the screen.  "I wasn't feeling well," the 26-year-old actress
says, blushing.  "I spent an hour and a half throwing up in the
bathroom."
     For Johnny Depp, the topic of romantic movie dates summons
equally bittersweet memories.  "When I was a teenager," remembers
the 29-year-old heart stopper of Edward Scissorhands and Cry-
Baby, "I went to see Star Wars at a drive-in in Florida.  I was
all excited."  But instead of getting smitten, Depp and his date
just got bitten, by mosquitoes.  "It was so bad that I ran to the
snack bar and got this mosquito repellent, but all it did was
make us stink.  It was a total disaster."
     "Actually," Depp adds, his eyes narrowing into slits, "I've
never heard of this phrase date movie.  Is this a new
phenomenon?"
     New?  No.  Rekindled?  Yes.  After a decade dominated by
action films, the sleeper success of Benny & Joon--an oddball
romance starring Masterson and Depp as seemingly illmatched
lovers who find each other a perfect fit--is the latest evidence
that movies made for couples are finding their niche once again.
In its first few weeks, the film has launched a flurry of hand-
holding in the dark, despite its commercially improbably story:
Masterson play Joon, a schizophrenic cared for by her big
brother, Benny(Aidan Quinn).  Enter Depp's Sam, a dyslexic
charmer obsessed with silent comedies.  Boy meets girl.  Boy
loses girl.  Boy visits girl in institution and wins her back.
     "People don't just want to see tits and screwing and
shooting and decapitated heads," says Depp.  "I think movie
executives have underestimated the American public.
     Masterson agrees.  "It's stupid that people think of movies
like Benny & Joon as surprising when they do well," she says.
"They are basic stories about the most fundamental human needs.
And the fact that those are considered risks, and the RoboCop
movies mitigate those risks--well, it's backward.  Movies like
Benny & Joon are universal."
     Even so, the film was nearly derailed before shooting began.
Originally Laura Dern and Woody Harrelson were attached to the
project.  But then Dern passed and Harrelson, who had committed
to play Benny, jumped into Paramount's Indecent Proposal.
Furious, MGM slapped Harrelson and Paramount with a lawsuit
(since settled out of court), and the movie's fate hung by a
thread.
     "Laura Dern is great," says Depp. "and Woody
Harrelson...well, I've never seen anything he's done, but I'm
sure he's very good.  But Aidan is my idea of the perfect man.
And Mary Stuart, she has knowledge way beyond her years."
     Like many of his roles, Depp's Sam is a misunderstood
antihero, a type he gravitates toward because "somebody who is
different, who is judged on appearance instead of heart, who is
looked upon as a freak--well, all I can say is, freaks are my
heroes."  Nonetheless, "after playing Sam, I figure we've pretty
much covered the innocent-lonely-guy sort of thing.  I'm trying
to go elsewhere."  That he may do in Tim Burton's Ed Wood, a
black comedy in which Depp is set to play the '50s transvestite
filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr. (Plan 9 From Outer Space), who is
considered the worst director in movie history.  In the film, due
for production at Disney this summer, Depp gets to pet pink
angora sweaters and dress up in women's clothing.  He can hardly
wait.
     Masterson, whose roles in Some Kind of Wonderful and Fried
Green Tomatoes gave her ample experience with eccentric
characters ("I get a lot of 'I'm a misfit too!' fan letters"),
had to walk a finer line when playing Joon.
     "Every time you see something about mental illness in
movies," she says, "it's always this descent into madness, or
people are labeled as special, like, 'What we're actually trying
to say is, this person is f---ed up.' In preparing for Joon, I
discovered that it's not gloom and doom all the time.  But I was
very scared of coming off as flip."
     For all its difficulties, Masterson considers the role "a
gift."  Usually, the actress says, she's "like the twelfth girl
on the list.  If the part's a tomboy and she swears, I might get
it.  Or if it's written for Jodie [Foster], I might have a shot
after the other two in front of me pass."
     Because there aren't enough good parts to go around,
Masterson has written her own.  In Around the Block, an
independent production she'll also direct this fall, she plays a
woman who conquers her fears by becoming a singer.  "It's a
romantic comedy too," she says proudly.  "Who knows?  Maybe it
will become a big date movie.  If I'm lucky."

                                        -- Ryan Murphy