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Leoni Online: The Articles — Fast Chat with Téa Leoni

WE WERE in a discreet midtown hotel looking for Téa Leoni. Because this hotel was so discreet, even the concierge didn’t know if Leoni was a guest. So we sat in the lobby and waited. We recognized her immediately, from 20 yards away, by her perfect posture. Leoni, who first claimed comic fame as the star of the funny but short-lived NBC sitcom “The Naked Truth,” is loose-limbed and entirely too graceful in a pearls-and- white-collar, young Katharine Hepburn way. (The pearls were her grandmother’s; she wears them everywhere.) We clambered over and jumped on the elevator with Leoni and her small entourage and apologized for ambushing her. “What?” she retorted. “Like I don’t have my game face on?” She laughed, uttered an expletive and excused herself to go to the bathroom. Then she sat on a couch and discussed with freelance writer Susan Stewart her current movie, “The Family Man,” in which she is a down-to-earth wife and mother of two opposite Nicolas Cage. The naked truth is that she mostly discussed her actual family, in which she is the besotted mother of Madelaine and wife of “X-Files” star David Duchovny. Your daughter is almost 2, and this is your first movie since she was born. Was it hard to go back to work? Nothing makes you stupid like childbirth. They tell you the hormones will make you forget the experience of labor, but you also forget half of everything else. Have you forgotten your experience of labor? I was in labor for about 30 hours…After 18 hours of hard labor, I was only one centimeter. At the very end, they brought in the pediatric emergency team. They said, “It’s very unlikely she’ll be spry.” This Russian nurse was in the catcher’s position. I was pushing. I’d been pushing about an hour. She was from Chernobyl. She said, “Do you want a C-section?” . . . A minute later, Madelaine popped out. So how was infancy? Anything (I) did right was just luck. Was your husband helpful? Oh, my God, David. It’s just the dexterity issue with men. I personally haven’t found changing a diaper particularly challenging. But he’s such a guy. Thankfully she’s almost out of diapers. Sometimes a cranky toddler is hard on a marriage. I’m impressed with how David and I have run our relationship since the baby. We do tend to the marriage. Of course, this (one-night publicity trip to New York) is the first time I’ve spent a night away from her. I arrived last night at 8:11, and I was calling (home) every 40 minutes. She’s in good hands, with my mother-in-law and a family friend. Are you a worrier? I think I was caught off guard by the worry, and I suddenly understood this place called motherhood. I remember actually saying to my mom, “I don’t know if I’ll ever sleep deeply again.” Flying in today, I had the first thought, well, if the plane goes down, she’ll survive… because she’s not with me. You sound a bit crazed. Does acting-you’re filming a “Jurassic Park” sequel now-help or make you crazier? Oh, I hate screaming the lauds of acting, how it’s so difficult and you really have to be very smart to do it. People ask, “When did you decide to be an actor?” My standard answer has always been, “I haven’t decided.” But ironically, when I had the baby I decided to embrace it. You give so much to your kids, and there’s so much coming out of you, acting is what fills me up. So here’s an acting question. Is that you naked in the shower scene in “Family Man,” dancing to “Beast of Burden?” I’m not sure it’s me, and I’m not sure if it’s Nancy (her body double). I don’t think it was me, because at seven months after giving birth, I wasn’t looking that good. But listen, if it is me, that lady was fine. You are thin as a stick. It is hard to imagine you flabby, even after childbirth. I gained 60 pounds. And I enjoyed every burger along the way. Some people lose weight in that first trimester. I was nauseous, but I found the only time I was not nauseous was when I was chewing. You ate fast food? Oh, yeah. Before the pregnancy, I was always appreciative of McDonald’s and Burger King. I feel that, really, the people who know anything about food know that’s delicious. But for the pregnancy, I might have overdone it. What was your favorite menu item? A fried chicken sandwich from Burger King with some sort of really perfect mayonnaise. Did David gain weight along with you? No, and I felt that’s where he fell short.

Did you worry about what breastfeeding would do to your bosoms, since you are a Hollywood commodity? No, because I don’t show my breasts. I just roll ’em back up into my bra and go on.