I apologise that the pics are not the best quality- my scanner is broke and well...the magazine is 22 years old! I did the best I can!
I have also typed up the article under the cut for easier reading!! Enjoy!
Robert Sean leonard: Life after Dead Poets Society
Talented, cute and alive and well. Actor, Robert Sean Leonard has resurfaced again after a brief absence to star in the new movie Mr & Mrs Bridge. He tells Jenny Tucker why he couldn't kiss his mum!
Robert Sean Leonard. The name means very little. But when it comes to the face, well... Recognisable as the lead boy in the 1989 surprise hit. Dead Poets Society, in which he played Neil Perry, the stage-struck schoolboy who commits suicide, Robert is one of those actors who's identified by his firm jawline and ink-black eyes.
Not that he’s complaining, of course, the film gave him the push into notoriety that he’d been striving towards, and now his days of standing at the back of the queue, waiting for bit parts, are over.
Peter Weir, the director of Dead Poets Society purposely chose a bunch of unknowns for the film, which was a stroke of luck for Robert who was bowled over when he heard he'd been selected for the cast.
"I couldn’t believe it at first," he remembers. "l was pretty ecstatic. The film sort of took me by surprise. The success of Dead Poets shocked me, I knew people would go to see it. but I never thought it would be so big. It's a real beautiful story, though, about the glory of people. Plus, of course, Robin Williams was starring in it."
It'd be fair to assume that Robert spent many a frivolous hour whiling away free time between scenes swapping comic lines with Robin, but, apparently, that wasn't the case.
"He was real sweet, real funny," explains Robert, "but we shot the whole film In twelve weeks and Robin was only there for about four of them. I didn’t really see him that much, but I do remember getting to the set early a couple of times and sitting watching the sunrise with him and Peter Weir. That was fun!"
Since all the excitement surrounding Dead Poets has lulled, Robert has settled down to a stretch of live theatre work. He's currently appearing in a production of Romeo and Juliet in his home town of New York. Today is Monday, his day off, and he’s taking things easy. He relaxes in his apartment, dividing his time between watching videos and reading - he’s engrossed in a heavyweight biography on the life of actor. Charles Laughton.
Unfortunately, though, he’s not feeling one hundred percent and thinks he may be coming down I with a chill.
"My voice is a bit shot," he says. "I've been playing Romeo on stage now for a week, and although it's going really well, it has put a bit of strain on me "
Almost 22, Robert isn't an apprentice on stage. born in Westwood, New Jersey, he moved to New York City at the age of 15 , and immediately began auditioning for various productions. With no formal training, it was sheer talent that landed him several understudy roles at the New York Shakespeare Festival. His major break came in the form of his Broadway debut in the hit play, Brighton Beach Memoirs.
"Theatre is my first love," he enthuses. "I’ve always stuck mainly to live work, but obviously films hold an interest for me too. When I was younger, I used to go for loads of film auditions, but never got them. I did try for Mosquito Coast with Harrison Ford, but River Phoenix beat me to it. I suppose I just wasn’t right for the role. It didn't bother me, though, I was young and just kept going."
After a couple of forgettable movies (The Manhattan Project and My Best Friend Is A Vampire) Robert struck lucky with Dead Poets Society. He's now set to get patted on the back once again for his role as Douglas in the new Merchant Ivory film, Mr & Mrs Bridge, which follows the life of a conventional upper middle class family living in Kansas during the late thirties. Robert stars as the painfully awkward son of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (who are married in real life). Douglas loves his parents, but finds them totally annoying and embarrassing, his mother treats him with childish naivety (when she thinks he might be starting to get interested in girls she thrusts ‘a guide to marital bliss' under his nose) and his father keeps him at an arm’s length - consequently, their relationships are all slightly off key.
There's one memorable scene in Mr & Mrs Bridge where Douglas attends a boy scout ceremony and is called upon to kiss his mother. As all the other scouts peck their mums on the cheek, Douglas shuffles uneasily, desperately trying to force himself to follow their example. Eventually, he looks away - he just can't bear any form of close contact with her. The scene is really quite disturbing as it obviously causes Douglas and Mr and Mrs Bridge much discomfort and pain. Robert agrees:
"The whole film is all about being unable to communicate - something that can be extremely hard to come to terms with. My part was difficult because Douglas almost connects with his mother and he almost connects with his dad, but it never quite happens, so it's a really frustrating situation.
"The film captures the sort of feelings we all experience with our families. When you’re growing up, everything your parents do annoys and embarrasses you. I did feel like that to a degree with my mum and dad, but I’m actually very fond of them. I started acting at an early age and they always encouraged me and came to see me in all my shows. My parents gave their lives to me and without me and my brothers and sisters, their lives wouldn't be whole. The feelings parents have for their children are very unique, and I don't think I'll understand that fully until I have kids of my own."
With two veteran actors like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward alongside him. It seems that the pair would feel protective towards their screen son. Robert admits that the couple did take him under their wing, especially Joanne who is very warm and open. Paul is a little more reserved. Even though they left Robert alone to create his own style of acting it seems the couple rate his ability - since their initial meeting, they've both been to see him in every theatrical appearance he's made. Surely he feels nervous knowing that two pairs of seasoned eyes are scrutinising his performance?
"No. not really." he shrugs, "It's the critics I get more uptight about... God I hate critics! Loads of my friends come to watch me on stage, so I suppose I've got used to it. Actually, five out of the seven boys from Dead Poets surprised me and came to Romeo on Saturday. That was great!"
Robert still socialises with his co-stars from the film, but he admits that although many of his friends are in the business, he doesn't really know anyone hugely famous. He's not the sort to rub shoulders with Rob Lowe in a late night bar or hang out at celebrity gatherings. And he also insists he doesn't have time for a girlfriend. He's more inclined to be found at home, doing the washing-up or enjoying the company of close friends. The glitz of movieland causes him to screw up his nose in distaste and he sometimes wonders what all the fuss is about where better-known actors are concerned.
"I wouldn't say Tom Cruise is the best in the business. Sometimes I look at what these people are doing and wish I could have a crack at it. I actually rate Daniel Day Lewis and Matthew Broderick quite highly. I think they're both brilliant actors."
Yet, surprisingly enough, it’s not an Oscar award that Robert wants sitting on his mantelpiece - its a framed photo of Bobbie junior.
"Someday I'd really like to have a family, he coos. "I want to continue the way I’m going — working, enjoying having good friends and then, when it's right, I'd like to be a parent. You know, all the normal things "