Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Richard Dreyfuss

GOING NATIVE

FOR RICHARD DREYFUSS, who played an influential teacher in 1995's Mr. Holland's Opus, the classroom still beckons. "I would like one day to teach," says Dreyfuss, 50, a high school grad who has been auditing college history courses in Sun Valley, Idaho, where his three kids—Emily, 14, Ben, 11, and Harry, 7—live with his ex-wife Jeramie. He won't say if that means an end to acting. "It is just something I want to concentrate on."

Dreyfuss's pedagogical ideal bears little resemblance to the hapless academic he plays in Krippendorf's Tribe, the new film about a single-dad anthropologist who has his three kids impersonate a New Guinea tribe in hopes of fooling a foundation that has been granting him money. "It's an unabashed, unashamed comedy," says Dreyfuss, who spends much of the movie under plumage and body paint. Costar Jenna Elfamn of TV's Dharma & Greg says, "Richard made me laugh so hard, I had tears running down my face. I dig that guy."

Laughs haven't always come easy for Dreyfuss, who won a Best Actor Oscar at 30 for The Goodbye Girl in 1978. His career nearly derailed in the early '80s after a car accident and cocaine arrest; ex-wife Jeramie has long suffered from painful lupus; and a birth defect left son Ben, 11, blind in one eye. But the self-described "easiest parent on the block" isn't complaining. When he's not visiting his kids, Dreyfuss spends time in L.A. with his girlfriend, accountant Janelle Lacey, or playing golf, a recent discovery. "One day, by accident, I hit the ball up in the air," Dreyfuss says, "and wanted to do it again."

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