New Kid on the New Block

UPDATED 08/08/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/08/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

HELLO, DALI: INTENT ON GETTING a very close look at a signed print of Salvador Dali's The Wailing Wall, Amy Locane gingerly unhooks it from the wall of her fancy, furnished Hollywood sublet. Satisfied, she tries to replace the picture. And keeps trying. The wire won't snag the hook. It's on. It's off. It's on—but it's still not right. "It's tilted!" shrieks Locane. More fine adjustments. Then: "There, that's better. Okay. We're set." Order, and its reassuring sidekick, calm, reappear in the universe.

Locane—whose name is the answer to the trivia question "Who played Sandy the sultry barmaid on the first 13 episodes of Melrose Place?"—has lately done a fine job of getting her world in order. She has recovered from the roller-coaster ride of landing, then losing, her role on Melrose in a matter of months. "The writers didn't know what they were doing with Sandy," says Locane, who agreed with the producers' assessment that her character had run her course. "I wanted some direction. I think they're happy that I'm gone and I'm happy with my life."

Why shouldn't she be? Locane, 22, has two movies coming out soon: Blue Sky, a family drama starring Jessica Lange that's set to open in September, and, next week, Airheads, a comedy with Brendan Fraser, the hunky young actor with whom she appeared in 1992's School Ties. In Airheads, Locane plays Kayla, the venon-spewing, crotch-kicking girlfriend of a rock musician whose band hijacks an L.A. radio station in an attempt to get its demo tape played. The character, she says, is miles from her own personality. "Kayla and I get mad when people don't treat us with respect," says the actress. "But with me, a plastic cup might fly."

If so, it's unlikely to hit any young Hollywood luminaries. Locane doesn't hang at the Viper Room or On the Rox. Instead, she says, she attends Catholic church most Sundays and spends her evenings at home reading novels or fashion magazines and watching TV. (As a viewer, she's "addicted to Melrose Place," she says, noting that "everyone on the show fits now") Locane hasn't had a significant other since she broke up with her last boyfriend, a college student, about four years ago. "I like self-assured men, and there's not a lot my age," she says with a shrug. "Anyway, relationships take a lot of work. I'm happy to be free."

Free is one word for Locane. "Very private" is the phrase preferred by Grant Show, her former Melrose castmate, who adds that Amy is "shy about her sexuality." Airheads director Michael Lehmann calls her downright straitlaced. "She was very uncomfortable," he says, about wearing Kayla's skimpy outfits. "She's led a sheltered life."

Locane grew up in Princeton, N.J., the only child of Helen Locane, a former legal secretary, and her ex-husband, Richard, an electrician, who divorced when Amy was 2. As a child, she spent a lot of time by herself. "I didn't want to go over to my friends' houses and see their perfect families," she says. "So I did my own thing." Confirms her mother, who never remarried: "Amy's always been a loner. She still loves to walk to the apple orchard back home and watch the ducks in the pond."

Locane also loves acting and always has—"maybe because I watched so many old movies alone," she says. At 12, she was in a park when a photographer spotted her and helped her land a role in the sitcom Spencer. As more jobs followed, she became more outgoing. At Trenton's Villa Victoria Academy, an all-girls high school, "I was in the in-crowd," she says. "I had a lot of boyfriends."

On the screen she has certainly hung with some hot young actors. In addition to playing Fraser's love interest, twice, she was Johnny Depp's prom-queen girlfriend in 1990's Cry-Baby, and she grows flushed while speaking of Adam Sandler, Saturday Night Live's Opera Man, who is another Airheads costar. "He's very cool," she gushes. Still, she scoffs at the notion of any on-set romance. "Not for me—ever," she says. "I tend to like guys who aren't in the business."

For now, at least, Locane is content to zip around L.A. solo in her 1973 two-seat convertible Mercedes—and have her mother fly in from New Jersey for occasional visits. ("We both kind of get life," says Locane, who also talks weekly with her father, now living with his third wife near Princeton. "We weren't close when I was growing up," she says, "but I finally realized he's a part of me.") Mightn't she at least throw a little premiere party when one of her movies opens? No way, says Locane, looking back at the still perfectly poised Dali. "I don't want to bring in people who'll trash the furniture!"

JOHN GRIFFITHS in Los Angeles

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