- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

NEW YORK — Two young actors and the director of the new teen-age farce "Orange County" are following in the footsteps of successful parents.The actual teen-ager in the group, 19-year-old Schuyler Fisk, is the daughter of actress Sissy Spacek and production designer Jack Fisk. She grew up on the family ranch near Charlottesville, Va.
In her face and voice, Miss Fisk strongly favors her mother, who may be headed for a second Academy Award on the strength of her performance in "In the Bedroom."
Miss Fisk plays the high school sweetheart of Colin Hanks, the 24-year-old son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks. Again, the pedigree is fairly easy to detect vocally and physically.
Jake Kasdan, the 27-year-old son of screenwriter and director Lawrence Kasdan, directed "Orange County." The elder Mr. Kasdan's notable movies include "Body Heat," "The Big Chill," "Grand Canyon" and "Wyatt Earp."
Although "Orange County" proves an attractive showcase for the three offspring, it is not a debut vehicle for any of them. Miss Fisk got her start in "The Baby-Sitters Club" and appeared last year in "Snow Day." She also contributed a song to the "Snow Day" soundtrack.
Mr. Hanks had a bit role in the teen comedy directed by his father, "That Thing You Do." He was a regular on the "Roswell" television series before getting knocked off, in part to accommodate an accelerating feature career. His credentials as high-school-age characters also were displayed likably in "Whatever It Takes" and "Get Over It."
Mr. Kasdan misfired with his debut feature, the would-be raffish mystery comedy-thriller "Zero Effect," in 1998. Having rebounded professionally through television comedy, notably the series "Freaks and Geeks," he finds a more confident style in "Orange County." The movie was written by Mike White, a writing and producing collaborator on "Freaks."
Despite growing up a long way from Hollywood, Miss Fisk was sold on moviemaking from a tender age. "I spent a lot of time around movie sets, and there was something about them I really loved," she says. "From the time I was tiny, I knew I wanted to be in that environment for the rest of my life, whether I was doing hair and makeup or acting.
"I should say that the Hollywood scene was not at all a part of our lives," Miss Fisk adds. "When we were on set, it was because my mom was working. We never went to Hollywood parties or did that thing. Looking back, it's so great, because I had such a normal life."
Asked the best piece of advice offered by her mother, Miss Fisk says: "Save your money because you never know in this business when you're going to be working. Beyond that, just keep your priorities straight. You know, family, home, the people you love, the real connections."
Although the young actress lives in Los Angeles and considers herself "bicoastal," she finds that "the more I'm out there, the more I want to go back to Virginia."
Among other attachments, she has a horse back on the ranch.
Miss Fisk moved to Los Angeles when she was 17. She finished high school a year early, taking classes at the University of Virginia to speed up the process. "You have to be in New York or L.A. to get your foot in the door," she says. "I had an agent and manager from making 'Baby-Sitters Club.' I just started auditioning. It was a slow, slow process. There's a lot of rejection, a lot of roles you can't get. You can't take it too personally. That's another thing my mother prepared me for. She said it took four years before she got an acting job in New York."
During press interviews sponsored by Paramount Pictures, Miss Fisk was asked whether casting directors knew her background. "Some of them probably did. I never made a point of telling anyone. You want to be your own person," she says.
Now that Miss Fisk has her foot in the door as a movie actress, she has begun to think seriously about attending college, which didn't appeal to her at 17. She has been applying "everywhere, really," but would prefer "an East Coast school, since I love the East and think it's gorgeous and all. I'm an East Coaster all the way."
Mr. Hanks is a West Coaster. Although a Los Angeles resident for some time, he identifies San Francisco as his favorite city and calls himself "a Northern California boy at heart." His father grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, of course. Tom Hanks was born in Concord and graduated from high school in Oakland. Colin is a product of his first marriage, to Samantha Lewes.
Asked about the impact of the name on his emerging career, Colin Hanks says: "I'm sure it got me a couple of auditions, but it never gets me a job. Look, I was kind of grass-roots when I started. I didn't even have head shots to pass around at auditions. My father never made any calls for me, not a single one. He had nothing to do with getting me an agent. I did everything on my own."
Someone quips, "What a piker."
Mr. Hanks responds: "No, that's the way it should be. He didn't really give me advice about whether I should start. He knew that this was something I liked doing. I'd always done all the plays in grade school and middle school and high school college, too. He came to every single one of them, even though he lived in a different city."
According to Mr. Hanks, his father's advice more often concerns "the other half of the job, the half nobody knows about." That is? "Things like publicizing the film," he says.
Mr. Hanks reveals that he has hit his first down phase since being cast in "Roswell" almost three years ago. "I would literally finish a job one day and go to something else the next. Since I finished this movie, in April, I haven't worked a day," he says. "Which is OK. It's part of the process."
Moreover, Mr. Hanks regards himself as somewhat naturally lazy, a tendency that cushions the slow periods. "I'm really simple, a homebody. It's in the genes. My dad and his father are also great at lying around," the actor says.
Mr. Kasdan echoes Miss Fisk's early infatuation with moviemaking. "It's pretty Pollyanna, but I was enchanted, and the enchantment lasted until I was old enough to try it myself," he says.
The director did not attend film school and describes his undergraduate years as "a series of dropout experiences." However, he calculates that being around his father provided "a 20-year education in the practical side of filmmaking."
Mr. Kasdan describes his parents as "honest but supportive" in response to his professional aspirations. "They've been around long enough to experience moments that are less than desirable," he says, "but that's also long enough to know that the negative things were mostly negligible. It's lucky to get to do this kind of work. It is hard incredibly consuming. You don't do a lot of other things. It lasts for months and months and requires single-minded dedication to your own work, and you get beaten up a little bit from time to time but those are awfully luxurious problems."

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