Monica Potter is sitting on the couch in her living room, drinking coffee and wearing
pyjamas with blue pants and a white top. She lives in the Valley, "far from
Hollywood," and the tv is tuned to Oprah. Soon, a friend will be coming over and
there’ll be some wardrobe clearance – before she has to sit down and pay some
"So this is my big Hollywood life," she says with gentle irony, suggesting
perhaps that she is not so naïve as to be totally enthralled with stardom per se. But
then Monica Potter needs a sense of humour, partly to deal with life (more on that later)
and especially now, to deal with the one inevitable question she always has to deal with.
"I see it like getting this huge compliment." on
being compared to Julia Roberts
"Oh, I know what you’re going to ask, it’s OK," she says laughing
and reassuringly, her mouth stretching into that familiar, irresistible smile that’s
a trademark …of Julia Roberts.
"What do you say when people compare you to…." Goes the question.
"Oh, I just smile," she says, which is either an innocent and sane response, or
a very clever rebuttal. "Like she smiles," Potter adds, referring to her friend,
with whom the subject has been drained of interest. Yes, many film critics and others have
remarked on Potter’s Roberts-like screen image and the echo of the Roberts face is
certainly evident. But it’s hardly cloning… "Look, I see it like getting
this huge compliment. When I was a young girl, my sisters used to call me Milton Berle, so
I reckon this is an improvement…"
This interview is given to help promote her film, The Very Thought of You (originally
called Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence, which she much prefers). Potter plays her
first really big lead role, as Martha, who is pursued by three men, none of whom know
about the others, and all three are best friends.
"It was a little scary" on The
Very Thought of You
"This is only my second or third film," she says, "and it was a little
scary. There was a lot of dialogue and I wasn’t used to that." (Maybe she was
thinking about her support role in Con-Air . . .) "I stayed scared and that kept me
on my toes. I didn’t want to be too relaxed."
Potter says the experience was memorable as much for spending all that time in London
– her first time – and discovering all the differences of the culture and the
people. "It all seems so precise and proper," she says.
Although she had never met her co-stars Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes and Tom Hollander
before, they "got along really well. Every day I had a different boy….so it
never got boring and it was often very spontaneous. Rufus liked to improv a
When Potter first read for director Nick Hamm (a name no actor would be seen dead with)
she did a few scenss "10 different ways! But we really hit it off. We’d get mad
at each other once in a while but it was a healthy way; if we had a problem we’d just
"I don’t involve any of them in any of this,"
on her family
Across the country in Ohio, Potter’s two sons (8 and 4) are with husband Tom, who
has his own career, but who plays dad with his family, so that Potter can stay in Los
Angeles and work on her career. Cleveland, Ohio is Potter’s home town, where she went
to Villa Angela Catholic School for Girls – and promptly fell pregnant at 19. Her
looks gave her a way out of town, and she began modeling in Chicago and for two years in
Miami before trying Hollywood.
"Coping with young children is very, very difficult," she admits. "They
go to school in Ohio and I have a house there, so I live between the two places. I
don’t involve any of them in any of this," she says, as if it were the plague.
"People sometimes say why don’t I have a nanny and take the kids along, but
that’s dumb; it’s not the kids’ fault their mother has to travel like a
circus act. I look at this as a career but it will have to work out so we’re all
happy. We came to this decision [about how to manage career and family] together. It took
some adjusting," she says frankly.
With her pert face, upturned nose and generous smile, Potter seems ideal for romantic
comedies, but she’s hoping to get a chance to show her broader range. "I
don’t want to say what’s coming up in case I jinx it," she says with a
smile. "I’m reading scripts and meeting people, and there are a couple of
projects I’d really like to do." (In the meantime, she can be seen with Donald
Sutherland and Billy Crudup in Without Limits, which opens in Australia July 15, 1999)
"she puts castor oil on her eyelashes and eyebrows to
make them thicker"
Although a vegetarian, Potter says she loves fish and especially can’t resist
sushi. As for an eccentricity, it’s known that she puts castor oil on her eyelashes
and eyebrows to make them thicker. "That’s true – when I was little, my dad
told me about it; and it works!"