- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

SANTA MONICA, Calif. —Arriving in a flurry, Lolita Davidovich apologizes for "flying in so late." Moments later, shes talking about how having a daughter, Valentina, now 16 months, has "settled and centered me" and "made me more organized."
Then, catching the irony, she laughs and apologizes again for her tardiness.
She has come to the Santa Monica offices of her husband, director Ron Shelton, to talk about her role in the NBC miniseries "The Judge." The two-part adaptation of the legal suspense thriller airs Sunday and next Monday, both at 9.
She plays a former county prosecutor, Catherine Rosetti, hired to defend a judge charged with murder and to entice her former boyfriend, Paul Mandriani, to join the defense team as well. The all-star cast includes Edward James Olmos as Judge Armando Acosta, Chris Noth as Mandriani, Sonia Braga as Acostas wife and Charles Durning as the judge presiding over the case.
As Rosetti, in a short red wig and serious suits, Miss Davidovich hides some of her natural lushness. Thats not the case on interview day. Her own marmalade hair flies free, and her striking figure is set off in a midriff-baring green knit top, sleek blue jeans and high-heeled boots, also in a marmalade hue.
She still looks sexy in the miniseries, but thats not really the point of the Rosetti-Mandriani relationship.
"There is romance, but its a past romance," she says. "Its a sexy relationship, but it doesnt manifest itself in a formula way."
As research for the role, Miss Davidovich relied on anecdotes and information provided by her agent, David Brownstein, a former trial lawyer who represented mobsters.
She believes theres "an inherent arrogance" to being a trial lawyer that an actor must capture to be convincing. "Youve just got to be full of yourself. … Theres a certain pompousness that often goes with it, and a righteousness."
Miss Davidovich sees the art of being a lawyer as "knowing how to use the language and how to tell a story, because laws are all interpretable and often arent up to date with society."
"The deliciousness of language" is what attracts her to acting.
She hankers for a return to the stage in any George Bernard Shaw play, stuffed with lengthy speeches.
Miss Davidovich, 39, was born in Toronto. Her father was from Belgrade, her mother from Slovenia.
"I was kind of a late bloomer in most things. I was an introvert as a child. I — wasnt very social, and not a whole lot has changed."
Her manner of speech is reflective, her demeanor a little dreamy, as she searches to express herself.
How did she become interested in acting?
"I think its probably a combination of being Slavic and being very emotional and being such a good listener. I love people so much, and their suffering, that to kind of inhabit them and vicariously live experiences and other peoples situations was probably the most creative and healthy thing to do, rather than just living, living the role.
"Does that make sense? I dont think it came out right," she says.
Miss Davidovich met her husband during the filming of "Blaze" (1989), which he directed. She played stripper Blaze Starr. Mr. Shelton also directed "Bull Durham" (1988), "White Men Cant Jump" (1992) and "Tin Cup" (1996).
"My Serbian friends really have so embraced him as an honorary Serb by virtue of his loud voice, uncompromising methods, drinking habits — um, not habits, but propensity," she says with affection, glancing at the offices well-stocked bar.
"And his earthiness. Hes so quintessentially American," she says, musing about "the big, crazy, unpredictable pioneer spirit" she believes American and Slavic cultures share.
Mr. Sheltons office is cluttered with sports photos and trinkets, but the actress says, "I so have no interest in sports. None."
Well, there is one sport.
"Boxing. We both share a love of boxing," she says, referring to Mr. Sheltons comedy about the sport, "Play It to the Bone." The 1999 film starred Miss Davidovich, Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson.
Not baseball?
"No. Im willing to give it a try, though. Probably we will because the little one is so athletic."
Miss Davidovich has been busy filming in Canada and appearing in the play "The Vagina Monologues" in New York City.
In Canada, besides working on "The Judge," she also filmed two projects for Showtime.
In "Snow in August," written by columnist Pete Hamill and inspired by his childhood, she plays the mother of an Irish boy growing up in the 1940s amid the multiracial gang culture of Brooklyn. The movie will air in August. In the cable networks series "Beggars & Choosers," she guest-stars as a seductive Parisian TV executive.
Soon shell play Kurt Russells spouse in "The Plague Season," a police-and-politics drama that Mr. Shelton will film in downtown Los Angeles.
"He always writes movies in the worst locations," she says with a laugh. "I say, 'Cant you write a movie set in, like, Prague or Brazil? Does it have to be between here and Las Vegas?"

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