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`Mademoiselle` Magazine, March 1994, Pages 82 & 84
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`Mary Stuart Masterson Goes Bad`
Written by Laurence Hooper

In the last year, Mary Stuart Masterson has found herself a new house in 
L.A. and a new love and has experienced a welcome change in her career. 
Only one thing in her life has stayed the same -- she still hangs out with 
her dog, Spencer.

During this tumultuous time, Masterson, 27, has moved beyond the girl-
next-door types that she's played ever since she was a stoic tomboy aching 
for love in `Some Kind of Wonderful` in 1987. Next month, she stars in 
`Bad Girls,` an ensemble Western with a killer female cast, all of whom 
were sent to cowboy camp for two weeks to learn to ride horses. In the 
movie, Drew Barrymore, Andie MacDowell and Madeleine Stowe play frontier 
prostitutes. Masterson plays a timid young woman, Anita, who becomes a 
strong, willful hooker after her husband dies in a cholera epidemic. While 
the transition from married woman to frontier prostitute may be hard on her 
character, Anita, it's a boon for Masterson, giving her a chance to play a 
character who transforms herself during the course of the film.

Not surprisingly, Masterson is in heavy demand these days: After such high- 
grossing movies as `Fried Green Tomatoes` and `Benny & Joon,` she is 
finally getting enough work to act nonstop. Besides playing in `Bad Girls,` 
she'll appear this fall in the highly stylized romantic comedy `Radioland 
Murders,` produced by George Lucas, as the wife of a comedy writer who is 
framed for murder in 1939.

Between acting jobs, Masterson has tried to direct her own movie and finish 
a college degree. "I don't have a grip on anything!" she exclaims in a 
good-natured anxiety attack from the North Carolina location of `Radioland 
Murders,` where she's been working 15-hour days and ordering take-out 
pizza. "I really need to take a break," she says.

`Masterson of Her Domain`

Masterson attended New York University for a semester, and has worked 
toward a bachelor's degree through a correspondence course with a Vermont 
college. But lately, she has been too busy for college. Nearly two years 
ago, Masterson left her home base in New York after a rift with her 
husband, an investment banker she prefers not to name. A failed marriage 
"taught me not to do my life for other people," she says. "I'm being 
extremely selfish right now, and I'm very happy about it." And with a 
certain amount of glee, Masterson says she's been dating. "Yes, I have a 
sex life, and it's good," she acknowledges, though she's reluctant to 
reveal any details. "You fall madly in love, of course you want to proclaim 
it all over the world. But the problem is, then you've opened the door wide 
for people to ask about every little development and problem."

While forging her own new life, Masterson helped develop the role of her 
character, Anita, in `Bad Girls,` "a Woman with a big 'W,'" rather than a 
girl. Through her research into the Old West, Masterson found that under 
the Homestead Act of 1862 pioneer men could claim more land if accompanied 
by a wife, but single women couldn't claim land on their own. This fact was 
worked into a rewrite of the `Bad Girls` script, which portrays Masterson's 
character as a young woman who's "been raised to believe she just can't do 
anything by herself."

Of course, Anita ends up doing fine without a man and -- this being a 1990s 
kind of Western -- she kicks some ass along the way. "`Bad Girls` is an 
action film," say Masterson. "It's not just a bunch of girls sitting around 
talking about boys." Her character, Anita, doesn't hesitate to use a pistol 
to protect her girlfriends.

`Bad Girls` director Jonathan Kaplan credits Masterson for her many 
contributions. She "really had imagery for this woman's story," he says. 
"She had such a vision of the character," adds Kaplan. Masterson's work on 
the script will come in handy for her next project. She's already started 
working on `Around the Block,` a small movie set in Austin, Texas, that 
she's written and plans to direct and star in. "It's about love, sort of, 
and being separate in order to be together," she says. It has plenty of 
autobiographical elements -- "but not the same characters as in my own life 
drama." Except for her faithful dog, Spencer. Masterson hasn't forgotten to 
give him a role.