4 mins read

Leoni Online: The Articles — Empire

Empire is quizzing Téa Leoni about snogging. At one point during her latest flick, The Family Man, she grapples with Nic Cage on a staircase, not only in full-on lip lockage, but also with chocolate smeared all over the actor’s face. It’s a wanton, entertaining display of earthy fun. The only snag in our grilling is that Téa Leoni doesn’t know what “snogging” is. “Snogging?” she queries with some trepidation. A brief explanation sees her warm to the word. “Snogging. I like that. We had a lot of fun snogging.” Speaking down the transatlantic blower from the set of Jurassic Park III, Leoni seems pleased with The Family Man, the story of a Wall Street Banker (Cage) who sees how his life might have been if he’d married his college sweetheart. Leoni was drawn to its feel-good-factor “Returning from motherhood, I didn’t feel particularly up for something dark and awful” which, with its what-if scenarios and Crimbo setting, have drawn more than a few comparisons to It’s A Wonderful Life(1946). “I don’t think you can deny the similarities,” she levels. “Although there are some underlying themes money and whatnot I think our film is more modern, more intima-” Leoni’s enthusiasm is cut short by a studio lackey. While the minion explains she has five minutes before she has to go into touch-ups (presumably make-up), let us survey Leoni’s vital stats: Born Elizabeth Téa (pronounced Tay-uh) Pantaleoni, Made acting debut in dreadful daytime legend, Santa Barbara. Paid her dues in small roles in League Of Their Own (1992), Wyatt Earp (1994), Bad Boys. Starred in a never-seen-re-make of Charlie’s Angels. Found fame as Nora Wilde in hit TV sitcom The Naked Truth. Went big screen in David O.Russell’s likeable indie farce, Flirting With Disaster and DreamWorks’ Deep Impact. Married David Duchovny in a quiet New York ceremony. Dropped sprog Madelaine West. Started Family Man. With no great desire to prove herself as a Streep or Sarandon “I’m not heading off to do my no make-up movie yet_ – Leoni underlines the point by currently revelling in her days running through Jurassic Park. “I can’t breathe a word about it,” comes the predictable response. “Y’know the wrath of Steven. I can’t even let you know what’s been chasing me. But I’ll tell you, it’s very big. Very scary. Big teeth.” Has it been a tough gig? “It has been a physical shoot, but I have to tell you, it’s been more balls-out fun than I’ve ever had on a movie. I wish I could put it in a clever, more specific way. This film reminds me why I do this. There have been times in my life where I’ve lost sight of that.” While JP3 should catapult Leoni into a different realm of notoriety, her profile has already been raised by her marriage to Duchovny. They first met on the Tonight Show, started dating five years later, with The X-Files star proposing in a show closet. Since their wedding in April 1999, has she copped attitude from Duchovny’s legions of moist Mulder maniacs? “Once I had potentially taken David off the market, there may have been some upset fans, a wet towel on somebody’s hot fantasy,” she admits. “But, I think David’s fans have been very supportive and sweet.” While being part of one of Hollywood’s brainiest couples may lead to some stereotyping “The latest thing I’ve heard is that David and I play Scrabble in Latin.” it has not precluded some choice cuts of tabloid tittle-tattle. “There was the rumour that I was pregnant with an alien,” she notes in mock seriousness. “That was impressive. I wanted to know if that meant I had bedded down with an alien friend of David’s or if I had cheated on him by sleeping with an alien, or is he an alien? I wasn’t sure how it came out and they offered no explanation for it. In a way, I could take that as flattery, that I was someone they’d refer to as a modern Mary. I was very honoured by that.” Before talk can turn to her next projects, the assistant is back, ushering her to an appointment with a mechanical co-star.

“Gotta go,” she says, buzzed. “It’s dinosaurs, baby, dinosaurs.”