She left Hollywood behind; now Sissy Spacek, actress and mom, makes movies on her terms
After years out of the spotlight, five-time Oscar nominee (and 1980 Best Actress winner) Sissy Spacek is back this winter with two new films, Affliction and Blast from the Past. Scoop caught up with Spacek, 49, over a cup of herbal tea near her Virginia home.
Where have you been?
I've been raising my children [she and husband Jack Fisk, 53, have two daughters, Schuyler, 16, and Madison, 10] on a farm. When we had kids we decided early on to move here. The people are wonderfully eccentric, and it is a special place to be.
Would you ever consider moving back to Los Angeles?
We're not going anywhere. We're there often, and we enjoy it, but this is home. I've always thought that you don't ever leave a place behind, you just add new places to your repertoire.
How do you deal with fame here?
Well, I usually can hear people across the room whispering to each other and then pointing. I often go right up and say hello, and everyone knows me around here. But I'll tell you a funny story. My daughter Schuyler was in a school play and she played the part of Annie. A few days later we were walking around town and this woman comes up to us with that "Aren't you...?" Of course we're thinking that she had recognized me. But she says to my daughter, "Didn't you play the part of Annie? You were so good." And Schuyler was busting at the seams!
Both daughters had parts in the movie The Baby-sitters Club.
Yes, and the older one, Schuyler, did great, but that's a mother talking. Madison was always fooling around and wanted to play. But it was a great experience for both of them.
How do you balance career and family?
Well, you see, that's what I'm trying to do now. I'm going to start with getting the closets and drawers organized. I could use about 36 hours in every day. I'm just like everyone else rushing around and relishing my children.
What do you think about women's roles in films now? Have they changed?
We have a way to go. I can't complain. I worked it to my advantage. Ever since I realized that I was into this world as a woman, I've had to work within the confines as a female, and I've enjoyed it immensely.
What do you do when you're not in front of the camera?
I used to ride [horses], now only on occasion. I'm a hiker and a walker. I love to garden, we have flowers and vegetables. I'm no Martha Stewart, but I want to be. We do all the things that people do who live around here; we do things as a family group.
Where do you envision yourself in five years?
I would be very happy if I'm right here doing the same thing, a little bit older.
Some Like It Bitter
While dining at Manhattan's oh-so-stylish Le Cirque 2000 late last month, gossip columnist Liz Smith found something tasteless and very much not on the menu: Tony Curtis tapping her on the shoulder and yelling "[Bleep] you!" A bewildered Smith replied, "Thank you," as Curtis stomped off, while her dinner companion, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, tried to look on the bright side. "Liz," Richards deadpanned, "you're lucky he didn't moon you." Curtis, according to New York's Daily News, was upset that Smith referred to his 5'11" wife, Jill Vanden Berg, as an Amazon in one of her columns. That news bewildered Smith even more. "I wish I were an Amazon," she said. "They were a great race of women warriors. I think 5'11" is nice and tall for a girl. So why would that bother a guy unless he's worried about being too short?" Tongue-in-cheek, Curtis downplayed the incident at first, telling PEOPLE the expletive "could have burst out of my lips, but I can't remember." But when told Smith had called his behavior "not very grown-up," Curtis replied, "Really? Well, [bleep] her."
The Paltrow men are fine now, thank you, after Gwyneth tearfully dedicated her Golden Globe Award to grandpa Buster (battling stomach cancer) and father Bruce (at left, who had his tonsils removed). "She's such a bundle of love," says Buster, 84.
Xena Stars in Greek Revival
Clearly none of the folks jammed into the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was suffering from Xenaphobia (the fear of sword-wielding women wearing metal breastplates and corsets). Quite the opposite. Inspired by TV's camp champ, Xena: Warrior Princess, 5,500 fans–many in full ancient-world regalia–turned up for a convention celebrating their heroine and her fallen-god pal Hercules. Similar shows are scheduled for New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco this year, boldly going into territory once claimed exclusively by Star Trek and its fans. "It lets us experience different fantasies," explains Fort Worth engineer Dana Hill, 39, a devotee of both Trek and Xena, who admits that "a lot of people who are into this genre don't fit in your mainstream." That didn't bother Lucy Lawless, the actress who plays Xena, as she graciously received a standing ovation and cheers of "Yi-yi-yi!"–Xena's battle cry. "It's pretty amazing," she said, "to look out there and see so many people who love you." And dress like you. Lawless, however, let slip that if Xena were transplanted to the 1990s, she'd head to the nearest mall for spandex. "She'd love to get out of those corsets," says Lawless.
ON THE BLOCK
Life was wonderful for Jimmy Stewart on his Hoomau ("heavenly land") Ranch in Hawaii. The actor purchased the 1,600-acre property in 1959, after honeymooning in the islands a decade earlier. Stewart's family just sold the ranch for $3.25 million because they didn't have the time to manage the ranch's three barns, corral, airstrip, two reservoirs, rain forest, maca-damia grove and herd of Black Angus cattle. Realtor John Michael White says that Stewart–who died in 1997–never built a house for himself, choosing to camp out or stay in one of the three houses on the property for the ranch hands. "He was a very humble guy," White says. "This was his little bit of paradise."
PJS Caught in PC Debate
Despite decent ratings, Eddie Murphy's new animated comedy, The PJs, keeps getting dissed by some prominent blacks. First, director Spike Lee labeled the show's depiction of an inner-city housing project filled with stereotypes like junkies and ne'er-do-wells as "really hateful toward black people." Now, Alvin Poussaint, the Harvard professor who worked with Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, says The PJs is full of "tired, worn images" that could poison young minds. "It's disturbing to see a buffoonish kind of show coming from him," Poussaint says. "He has not been one to show great sensitivity." Murphy won't talk, but the show's producer Larry Wilmore is firing back, telling The Washington Post that the show should not be seen as representing all blacks "just in the same way you wouldn't say Seinfeld represents all Jews." Those who don't like the show can change the channel, says Todd Boyd, author of Am I Black Enough For You? "We're not talking," he says, "about a sociological thesis."
So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star?
Despite the booming economy, more and more actors are developing second careers–in front of the microphone. John Travolta will sing in his next film, Standing Room Only, a biopic of legendary Hoboken crooner Jimmy Roselli. Party of Five's Jennifer Love Hewitt just released "How Do I Deal," her single from the sound-track of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. And Michael Keaton rocked the house fronting a band in the recent Jack Frost. The stars are crooning outside the movies too. Dennis Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Brad Pitt, Kim Basinger, Keanu Reeves and Billy Bob Thornton contribute tracks to Hollywood Goes Wild, a CD scheduled for spring release. Proceeds go to the Wildlife Waystation, an animal sanctuary in California's Angeles National Forest. "These guys are really talented musicians," said executive producer Ron Lovely. Jeff Goldblum, who cowrote a bebop tune for the project, cautions that "it's just for fun"–he often performs Mondays at Lucky Seven, a Hollywood supper club. But a warn-thespians considering an alternative gig: In My Life, featuring Goidie Hawn, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Sean Connery singing Beatles tunes, sold a flat 70,500 copies since its November release.
A Capitol Time for Whoopi
As VIP seating goes, Whoopi Goldberg's sought-after perch at President Clinton's impeachment trial rivaled her center box in Hollywood Squares. Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) provided the ardent Democrat with tickets, and she took the proceedings seriously. "She wasn't cracking jokes," said one Senate aide. "She seemed like a regular person in awe of the setting."
Sean's Poison Penn Letter
Imagine the nerve. Sean Penn wanted to promote The Thin Red Line in Houston, but 20th Century Fox wouldn't provide him a private jet. So Penn sat right down and wrote himself a nasty letter to Fox titan Rupert Murdoch, asking why Murdoch couldn't spend $16,000 on jet rental (Fox says $40,000) when his newspapers make all that money "exploiting the pain and suffering of myself and my peers." Fox said Penn's "personal commitment to the movie speaks for itself"–meaning he only did a couple of interviews for it, says a rep. Fellow actor Billy Baldwin defended Penn, calling him a "role model and inspiration," and not a "perk pig."