Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

UPDATED 03/09/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/09/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

>Penelope Spheeris


PENELOPE SPHEERIS EARNS MILLIONS making comedies like Wayne's World, but the Senseless director is more than the sum of her mindless movies. The black-leather-wearing single mom plows her money into gritty, personal work such as the punk-rockumentary The Decline of Western Civilization, Part III, which cost a fraction of what Wayne's World did and hasn't yet been released. "I've always been a bit of an outsider and a rebel," says Spheeris, 52.

Senseless, which stars Marlon Wayans as a man who loses control of his five senses, will pay her bills, but Civilization got Spheeris a new boyfriend. Last September, a year after shooting, she spotted "Sin," a "gutterpunk"—her words—who appears in the movie and was still homeless on a Hollywood street corner. "I pulled up and said, 'Hey, what's going on?' " says Spheeris. "He moved in with me that day."

Spheeris has a lot of demons she'd like to explore in film: Her father, Andrew, was murdered in a racial dispute in 1952 after defending a black man; Robert Schoeller, the father of her 27-year-old daughter, Anna, died of a heroin overdose in 1974; and her brother Jimmy was killed by a drunk driver in 1984. "When you have a life like mine," says Spheeris, who is planning a film about her dad, "you become either creative or destructive. If you go to prison, you'll see a lot of people who had lives like mine."

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters