Never mind that she came thiiiis close to becoming Mrs. John F. Kennedy Jr. There's a lot more to Daryl Hannah than her famous ex. Consider: She can ride an elephant and herd steers. She sometimes stays in a tepee near Telluride, Colo. She likes to dye her pancakes green or red—you know, happy colors. She loves to swoosh down mountains on her snowboard and take risks of other kinds too. Last year the millionaire screen star—who made her first splash 14 years ago as a mermaid besotted with Tom Hanks—went out with the guy who sold her a Christmas tree. The romance didn't sparkle, a friend says. Pity—for him. "She's so beautiful and yet so self-effacing," says Christopher Reeve, who costars with Hannah on Nov 22. in the ABC remake of Hitchcock's classic Rear Window [see review, page 27]. "That's very charming, because a lot of women that beautiful have outsized egos." Adds fellow admirer octogenarian Ray Walston, her costar in the upcoming comedy My Favorite Martian: "Some of these fellows—well, this particular fellow who was going with her, and then he went off with someone else—I think that was a foolish move."
Sorry, John. Foolish or not, the move devastated his ex. A popular actress applauded for her parts in such '80s hits as Roxanne, Wall Street and Steel Magnolias, Hannah, 37, put her career in crawl during her five-year romance with JFK Jr. After their 1994 breakup—and the death of her stepfather, real estate mogul Jerry Wexler, in 1992—she all but disappeared from films. "There was a lot of personal drama and trauma I needed to attend to," she told reporters in 1996. "It was a choice I made."
And now seems to have unmade. In Rear Window, says Reeve, whose role as a quadriplegic crime witness marks his first acting role since he was paralyzed in a 1995 riding accident, Hannah "does a lovely job, with little looks and gestures," of conveying her love for his disabled character. The part is but the latest in a string of films for Hannah. Last year she played a porn actress in the cable film The Last Days of Frankie the Fly, and this year saw her as a serious (and redheaded) lawyer in Robert Altman's The Gingerbread Man and as a trampy soap-opera actress in the low-budget comedy The Real Blonde. "We wanted a woman who walks into the room exuding a sense of power and control," says Blonde producer Marcus Viscidi of her role. They offered Hannah the part as soon as she'd read for it, and she burst into tears. "In all my years," Viscidi recalls her saying, "I have never been offered a role at an audition."
Hannah's delight at landing a part in a small, independent picture might suggest that her career has seen better days. "Like all actresses, she's struggling to get decent jobs," says cinematographer Haskell Wexler, her stepuncle. "She's struggling in the right direction"—meaning, away from the ditsy-ingenue parts in which she feels she has been typecast. "I certainly have never really been in control of my career," she told Notorious magazine earlier this year. "I wish I were. I've done these [stereotypical parts] because they're the best of what's offered to me." As Robert Alt-man sees it, seeking out small but interesting roles is a sign that Hannah is at last taking control: "She's done the money pictures before. I think she realizes there is more to life than being Daryl Hannah the celebrity. She wants to enjoy her life and career."
Easier said than done. Like the horses that roam her 460-acre property near Telluride, the shy Chicago native occasionally gets spooked. Screen nudity, for instance, unnerves her—though she managed to finesse the issue when, researching her role in The Last Days of Frankie the Fly, she visited an L.A. porn-film shoot. "She was shy about watching the sex scenes," says adult-movie actor Ron Jeremy, "but she just said, 'There's a first time for everything.' " Still, she wasn't about to let the camera sneak a real peek in The Real Blonde. For a scene requiring her to show her skivvies, says costar Maxwell Caulfield with a chuckle, "she was wearing three pairs of black panties. I guess she was self-conscious."
To Caulfield and others the bashful actress comes off as an adorable kid sister, the kind who never saw a runaway mutt she didn't want to bring home or a prank she didn't want to pull. During filming of The Gingerbread Man last year, she and cast-mates were drinking at Churchill's Pub in Savannah when, according to another patron, building contractor Dan Cooler, Hannah said, "Let's have some fun." The next thing they knew, she was in front of the men's bathroom—charging gentlemen a buck each to get in. "She has this lovely childlike quality about her," says a friend, screenwriter Mitch Markowitz. "[But] her girlishness belies an intelligence and X-ray vision. She isn't fooled by people."
Except, perhaps, people of the tall, dark and troublesome sort. Before Kennedy, Hannah spent nearly 10 years with musician Jackson Browne; the romance ended in 1992 following a violent confrontation in their Santa Monica home that left Hannah with a broken finger, black eye and swollen lip. Browne denied hurting her, and she did not press charges. In hindsight, she said, the relationship marked a pattern. "In men I like a certain darkness," she told Notorious. "[But] I would love to just have someone with no problems, who's easy."
Such as, one hopes, her current beau—all Hannah will divulge is that he's a nonceleb. If the relationship is to last, this much is sure: The guy can't be too attached to creature comforts. Though she has homes in Los Angeles and Manhattan, Hannah is happiest at her Colorado retreat. "She prides herself on living this rustic life...splitting logs and living off nuts and berries," says Caulfield. "You know you are a real friend when you get an invite to stay in the tepee."
Karen S. Schneider
Irene Zutell, Ken Baker and Jeff Schnaufer in Los Angeles, Vickie Bane in Telluride, Joe Tirella in New Bedford and Amy Laughing-house in Savannah
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