Helen Hunt is, of course, best known as Jamie on "Mad About You," the television sitcom in which she co-stars with Paul Reiser.
But she is about to get a major movie-career boost, thanks to her top-billed role in "Twister," which is on the fast-track to become one of the summer's $100 million blockbusters.Hunt, who began as a child actress (she made her film debut at age 9), already has a lengthy filmography, however, primarily made up of pictures made long before she hit it big on "Mad About You" - theatrical films, television films and straight-to-video films.
Including one in which she played the teenage daughter of an ex-Mormon polygamist! (A 1981 made-for-TV drama called "The Child Bride of Short Creek.")
In television interviews for "Twister" over the past week, she's apparently been talking about some of her previous work, which has prompted several readers to ask about whether they're available on video.
As it turns out, more than 20 films featuring Hunt can be found on video-rental shelves, including some that may surprise you:
- "Pioneers" (1973), in which Hunt makes her film debut as the young daughter of the title character, played by Joanna Pettet. Early in the film, William Shatner plays her father.
- "Quarterback Princess" (1983), which cast her in the true story of Tami Maida, a girl in a small Oregon high school who managed to become both a football star and the homecoming queen.
- "Bill: On His Own" (1983), as the young tutor to mentally retarded Bill Sackter (Mickey Rooney). This true story is a sequel to "Bill," which won Rooney an Emmy.
- "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (1985), which teams her with Sarah Jessica Parker in a bouncy comedy about a couple of teens who want to enter a dance contest.
- "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986), in which Hunt plays Kathleen Turner's daughter - though Hunt is actually only nine years younger than Turner. (Jim Carrey also has a small role.)
- "Project X" (1987), a comedy that has Hunt and Matthew Brod-erick taking a back seat to the antics of chimps in a military testing program.
- "Miles From Home" (1988), a save-the-farm drama that casts her in a small role as Penelope Ann Miller's best friend. Richard Gere stars.
- "Next of Kin" (1989), an action picture in which she has the thankless role of Patrick Swayze's wife, waving goodbye as he goes off to fight with Liam Neeson.
- "Dark River: A Father's Revenge" (1990), as a young scientist falling in love with Mike Farrell, whose daughter died after exposure to river water polluted by a battery factory. (Filmed in Utah; also known as "Incident at Dark River.")
- "Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story" (1991), a change-of-pace role as a vixen, in this true story of a schoolteacher who seduced one of her students in a plot to kill her husband. (The same story was the basis for "To Die For" last year.)
- "Mr. Saturday Night" (1992), as the pushy agent who tries to get Billy Crystal's retired character to make a comeback.
Classics? No. But a nice sampling of Hunt's diversity - or at least as much as she's been allowed to display up to now.
- AND WHILE WE'RE at it, do you remember any of Paul Reiser's movie roles?
Last year he was part of the trio of divorced dads in "Bye Bye Love," and he's had supporting parts in such comedies as "Crazy People," "Cross My Heart," "The Marrying Man" and others.
But the film I always remember him for was his most dramatic effort - he was the smarmy villain of James Cameron's "Aliens."
Hard to believe of nice little Pauly, isn't it?
- DO MEN AND WOMEN really have explicit conversations with friends about the intricacies of their intimacies, as do so many characters in modern movies?
That is, do they really get into detailed discussions of . . . well . . . private specifics?
This happens all the time on the screen, of course, and the question came to mind again when I saw "Flirting With Disaster."
In an early scene, Patricia Arquette's character shares specific details of sex with her husband during a conversation with her best friend. And later, while traveling on the road, a gay character casually, graphically discusses his sex life with a group of strangers.
Perhaps I'm living in the Stone Age, but it seems to me there are private things that most people really do keep private, things they simply don't reveal in conversations with friends - even the closest of friends.
But then, I don't usually strike up a conversation with the stranger standing at the next urinal in a public restroom, either - and we all know how often that happens in movies today.
- BY THE WAY, JUST in case you don't know it already, "Flirting With Disaster" is loaded with second-generation movie-actor types.
Ben Stiller is the son of comic actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, who have each appeared in a number of movies, though their greatest success was as a comedy team (Stiller & Meara).
Patricia Arquette is the sister of Rosanna Arquette ("The Executioner's Song," "Desperately Seeking Susan").
And Josh Brolin's father is James Brolin, erstwhile B-level star of "The Amityville Horror," among others - and, in another life, TV's "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Hotel."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Helen Hunt, about working on "Twister":
"I found it flattering that somebody (director Jan De Bont) was willing to fight so hard for me when up against the commercial realities that I am not Demi Moore."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK II: Robin Williams, about why he likes to do films for youngsters, such as the animated "Aladdin" and the special-effects laden "Jumanji":
"I wanted to do something that would make my children laugh. I wanted to be in a movie they could see. They wonder where I go all day. I wanted to be able to show them the movie I made. I had been the voice of the genie in `Aladdin' and I wanted to do something else. Kids get embarrassed about what parents want them to see. I think kids will think this one is cool."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK III: Jane Leeves, popular for her role as Daphne on TV's "Frasier" and the voice of the ladybug in the current Disney animated feature "James and the Giant Peach":
"I think they had a little trouble finding that voice. She seemed to be much older, middle-aged and matronly. I gave sketches to friends of mine and said, `OK, just tell me when it's right.' They'd say, `No, you sound too thin.' `You sound too tall.' Eventually I found this older voice . . . I think I put Angela Lansbury out of a job."