American Film Magazine - July/August 1988, Page 68

Close-Up: Mary Stuart Masterson
Written by Nancy Bilyeau

"No more tomboys," vows actress Mary Stuart Masterson, who in Howard Deutch's 1987 Some Kind of Wonderful talked tough, pounded drums, and wore dog tags and boy's underwear. "I want a womanly part -- someone sensuous." (Of course, this doesn't mean she can't still shoot baskets on her own time.)

In her new film, Mr. North, twenty-two-year-old Masterson doesn't exactly steam up the screen, but she does project the vulnerability and dignity that have set her apart from other, showier young actresses -- short on hair mousse, she's long on emotional honesty. Her role as an ailing Newport pre-debutante is small, but she cuts through the rather treacly dialogue to deliver a poignant performance. The film -- based on the Thornton Wilder novel Theophilus North -- was directed by twenty-six-year-old Danny Huston (John's son) and features, among others, Robert Mitchum, Lauren Bacall, Harry Dean Stanton, and Anjelica Huston. "It was sort of a Love Boat in Newport," Masterson says with a laugh.

At age eight, Masterson was a Stepford child: She played the daughter of her real-life father, actor-director Peter Masterson, in The Stepford Wives. (Masterson's mom is actress Carlin Glynn.) Ten years later, she landed a major role in Heaven Help Us, a little-seen but very funny evocation of Catholic high school life in the sixties. Since then, she's received critical attention as Sean Penn's naive but tough girlfriend in At Close Range and as D.B. Sweeney's strong-minded wife in Gardens of Stone.

Confounding laments about the apolitical narcissism of the Brat Pack generation, Masterson is an active member of SANE/FREEZE, a disarmament lobbying organization with which she traveled to the Soviet Union last fall. "I don't want to preach," Masterson says, "but I do want to make my own decisions about the issues. So many people want to be told what to think."