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Leoni Online: The Articles — USA Weekend

Téa’s next move Marriage and motherhood may prove just what was needed to jump-start Téa Leoni’s acting career. She co-stars with Nicolas Cage in the upcoming movie The Family Man.

usa-2366294 by Bob Makela

Téa Leoni is big on family. She’s close to her brother, deeply misses her grandparents and gushes about her parents. “They have the most genius marriage,” she says with bemused pride. “These people are still two of the [friskiest] individuals I’ve ever met.” Despite her deep family connections, there was a time when Leoni, 34, wondered if she’d ever start her own family. Cuddled up today under a blanket in her Jurassic Park 3 dressing room, an ailing Leoni fights the flu and recalls being 24 and married “for all the wrong reasons.” She says she looked at her parents’ marriage and “thought I would’ve arrived if I got married. Or at least be on the boat there.” When things ended, the actress insists, she wasn’t anti-marriage. “I just couldn’t find any reason to do it again. I kept begging somebody to present me with a reason to do it.” Enter X-Files star David Duchovny. This time around, Leoni was realistic. “We were both clear we weren’t promising to wake up every morning in love,” she says. “And that’s different from the 24-year-old’s delusion. You’re in it for the whole ride. Without the panic and fear.” Marriage and motherhood (daughter Madelaine is 20 months old) may have been just what Leoni needed to revitalize her acting career. Her movie The Family Man, which opens Dec. 22, is an ode to the subtle joys of suburbia. The movie stars Nicolas Cage as a Wall Street tycoon who has chosen career over love — only to wake up Christmas morning to find himself living the life he would have lived had he married Leoni, his college sweetheart. “This movie’s gonna do the same thing for her career that When Harry Met Sally … did for Meg Ryan,” says the film’s director, Brett Ratner. Leoni, though, doesn’t exactly see it that way. “I don’t really know what I’m doing, frankly,” she admits. “I have the hardest time watching myself. I don’t enjoy it. When I saw Family Man, I had to run out of the theater and get sick.” Although Leoni had just had her baby and wasn’t much interested in returning to acting (her résumé includes her own little-seen sitcom, The Naked Truth, and roles in movies like Deep Impact and Flirting With Disaster), the chance to work opposite the Academy Award-winning Cage proved too enticing. And after her last-minute audition, Leoni’s next career move was made. “I think her strong suit is as a light comedienne, and I don’t say that as a slight,” says L..A. Weekly film critic F.X. Feeney. “She’s able to render all kinds of light, bitchy moments — and yet be likable doing it.” While she was growing up in Manhattan, Leoni’s family nicknamed the self- described childhood drama queen “Sarah Bernhardt.” After dropping out of college, traveling and doing some modeling, Leoni went to an audition on a dare for a TV remake of Charlie’s Angels. The 1988 series was never made, but Leoni stayed in L.A., eventually winning a part on the daytime drama Santa Barbara in 1989. Cut to the 21st century, where Leoni finds herself living in Malibu with her famous husband and their little girl. And while it might seem all glitz and glamour, the down-to-earth actress seems to have struck a healthy balance: an awareness of and gratitude for her good fortune. “One of the things I love about Family Man is how Nic’s character awakens to the gifts of this simpler kind of life. And that’s something David and I have tried to do in our marriage. To be awake. Awake as parents. Awake as lovers. Awake as friends.” But even with a pile of her daughter’s toys in the corner and a frilly little girl’s dress draped over a chair, Lenoi is not quite the suburban housewife she plays in her new movie. “We don’t have a minivan,” she says with cocky playfulness. “I can’t ever do that. The second thing is, I don’t bowl. Sorry.”

There’s something about Téa

Remember Cameron Diaz’s Mary in There’s Something About Mary? Well, Téa Leoni is a real-life Mary. She loves golf, fast cars and watching sports. Besides her obvious physical gifts — and that sardonic, smoky voice — here are a few reasons why, as her Family Man producer Brett Ratner says, “She’s the type of girl you could fall in love with or have as your best friend.”

She loves watching sports:

“I grew up a sports fan. In fact, David [Duchovny] and I spent a lot of our honeymoon in bed watching the Knicks in the playoffs. There was a whole lot of excitement in that room.”

She drives a pickup:

“My truck can make me very happy. It’s got a new exhaust on it — it’s legal. It’s got a little bit more bite to it, a little bit more angst in the engine, which I like.”

She loves to golf:

“Playing tournament golf sucks, though. Because usually I end up with men. They think it’s gonna be fun. And then they see I can swing. And they don’t really like that. When you’re better than a man in golf, it doesn’t elevate their game. It shrinks their game and shrinks a lot of things.”

She’s a Yankees fan:

“… all based on decisions I made when I was 10 to 12 years old. It’s a loyalty to childhood magic and dreams. How can you be sick of the Yankees winning every year? It’s something to celebrate every single time.”