Passion for the screen
Jeanne Tripplehorn’s big love is acting.
OCCASIONALLY acting can just be a job, says actress Jeanne Tripplehorn. But, for her, most of the time it’s a calling. Best known as the kinky lawyer in Basic Instinct, sensible Wife No.1 in Big Love and the waterlogged love interest in Waterworld, Tripplehorn admits her passion for it waned slightly after she had her son, who’s now nine years old.
“I lost the heart for acting because my heart was with my family and my son so that was really, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.’ But then they get older and you realise you have to flex that independent artiste in yourself again, and I realise I’m fully whole because I have my son. I’m so lucky because as an actor I get to be a mother fulltime when I do it, and then I go off and work. Then I come back and get the balance. I get to be a working mum when I need to and I can be a fulltime mother, which I love.”
That ennui soon passed, as she proves in Lifetime’s Five, premiering on Oct 10 in the United States. The project is an anthology of five short films about breast cancer, directed by famous femmes like Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Penelope Spheeris. It stars a galaxy of luminary actors like Patricia Clarkson, Tony Shalhoub, Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin.
Tripplehorn is the thread that stitches all five parts together, as the one character touched by all their lives.
She admits she likes acting because it enables her to be somebody else. The reason she does it is because she can’t help herself, she says in the bustling lobby bar of a hotel in Beverly Hills, California. “You have to want it more than life itself. Any artist – whether an actor, a painter – has to want it more than life itself. You can’t live a fully realised life unless you do it. Those are the ones that are going to survive because they’re going to do it. They just HAVE to.”
She started out as a radio DJ and wet her feet in local theatre. She even dropped out of one college, hoping to attend Juilliard. “I went to New York and I auditioned for Juilliard two weeks after I arrived in New York. Right after I got out of Juilliard, I did a TV movie-of-the- week with Jason Robards and Campbell Scott. Then I got Basic Instinct, and I was off to the races.”
She supported herself mainly through student loans.
“In my third year at Juilliard in the summer I did a commercial for AT&T. That gave me a little money, but not much. So I tried to do commercials on my off-time. I worked at the Museum of Television and Radio during the summer; I was a cataloguer.”
Capturing the role in Basic Instinct (before she finished school) convinced her that she would be able to make a living in her dream profession.
“My parents were so proud and we didn’t have a lot of money. My mother was in Tulsa and you had this project where you present your work and a couple weeks later you have your physical graduation with the gown and diploma. And my mother had to choose between them. She couldn’t afford to come to both. She said she’d rather see me perform, to see what I’d been doing for four years, but she didn’t see me graduate. It was her Sophie’s Choice.”
Tripplehorn lost her mum, but finally found the man of her dreams when she met actordirector-writer Leland Orser, to whom she’s been married 11 years. She says for a while she had compunctions about marrying an actor.
“Just because being with another actor is really tough. And actors, by their nature, can be complex people. I don’t consider myself complex in my approach to life so I had given up finding somebody who had my outlook and balance. And luckily I found somebody. I think if Leland weren’t as balanced and honest and as solid a person as he is, I probably wouldn’t be married to anybody in our business. But it’s worked out because we trade off (on each other) and we’re able to do what we both want to do and have a grounded enough life for our child.” – © McClatchy-Tribune Information Services n Catch Tripplehorn on BigLove on HBO (Astro Ch 411) every Monday at 10pm.