Stop blubbering your little boo-hoos over some Mommie Dearest stereotype of celebrity kids and their troubled childhoods. These days, Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow are more likely to earn pity for missing a yoga class than for enduring Joan Crawford-style beatings with wire hangers. If it's hard to feel sorry for privileged celebrities, it's even harder to shed tears for their well-nurtured offspring. Consider the players in the upcoming comedy Orange County: When two children of Academy-acclaimed actors and one son of an award-winning director work their way into a studio movie through their parents' connections, can you still sympathize when they complain that some critics might think they're riding on mom and dad's coattails?
"I know people are going to say that I got the job because of my dad, but I auditioned and everything," says Orange County star Colin Hanks--the 24-year-old son of Oscar monopolist Tom--during a recent swing through Minneapolis. Of course, Hanks and 18-year-old costar Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek) were introduced to the project by Courtney Kivowitz at Creative Artists Agency--the same firm that represents the elder Hanks, Spacek, and Orange County director Jake Kasdan's dad Lawrence. Hanks recognizes the awkward connections, admitting, "It was kind of weird because I knew Jake for a few years before the audition. When I came in, it wasn't really like a real audition. He was like, 'Hey man, how are you doin'? What's been going on?' And then later he was like, 'So, um, I guess you could read something.'"
If only someone had given the same strenuous test to our man G.W. before he ran for prez. Still, Jake Kasdan does seem to have chosen an appropriate leading man for his followup to Zero Effect: Orange County follows Shaun (Hanks), a high school senior who gets rejected from Stanford because his dysfunctional family members unintentionally destroy his shot at a more prestigious future. (No, a reversal of real-life circumstances does not constitute clever irony.) After Shaun takes a spontaneous trip with his girlfriend (Fisk) to change the dean of admissions' mind, he learns that One Has to Make His Way Through Life Regardless of His Environment, and Without Help From His Family. Of course, going through obstacles on your own is much easier when your film is filled with more spotlighted names than a Robert Altman picture: Lily Tomlin, Ben Stiller, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, Jack Black.
Yet despite help from their cohorts, and a script that boasts some irreverently funny moments (and many that are pure syrup), neither Fisk nor Hanks has another movie lined up after Orange County. "If this acting thing doesn't work out, I'm sure there are other things we could do that are more behind-the-scenes," says Fisk in an optimistic tone. And what low-profile career might strike her fancy? "Being a rock star would be great," she muses.
"Yeah, a rock star would be cool!" adds Hanks.
"All I know is that I don't want to have a nine-to-five job," notes Fisk. Hmmm. Has either Fisk or Hanks ever had a nine-to-five job? "Umm...no." Has either of them ever worked any kind of job besides acting? Fisk and Hanks look anxiously at one another. "Ummm...no." Then Hanks comes to the rescue. "One night," he offers, "I substituted for a friend at his job. I cleaned a bathroom. It was horrible, and I wasn't any good at it. I never want to do that again."
Don't worry, Colin. No one's gonna make you do that again. That's what the maid is for.