Ex-law student Portia de Rossi will drive you crazy as Ally McBeal's new spark plug. Kevin Raub examines her briefs.
Australian-born golden girl Portia de Rossi never wanted to be an actress. But, alas, it was to be her fate. LIke the sime when she was 14 and deived so deeply into her character in a school play that her amibition got her sent straight to the headmaster's office. "I played this character who smoked these black cigarettes out of this long cigarette holder," she recalls. "In keeping with my character, I decided to go on stage with a lit cigarette. I was suspended for that."
Given the thespian kiss-off at Geelong Grammar School outside Melbourne, de Rossi aimed for a career in law. That didn't work out either, though it would eventually come to pass. Sort of. The same year she began law school at Melbourne University, de Rossi shed her innocence (and clothes) in the hoity-toity film, Sirens. The character, a green 16-year-old whose on screen sexual awakening became a sure-fire testosterone-jumper for every American male this side of the Pacific Ocean, wasn't far from the truth. "[The director] really did want fresh talent and he really did like working with non-actors. He saw that kind of innocence with me. I'm a fairly private, demure kind of girl."
Uh, sure. After relocating to Los Angeles, de Rossi played a ditsy "Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?" blonde in Scream 2, followed by a slew of indepedant and major motion pictures roles that run the gamut from a detoxing heroin addict in The Invisibles to an elitist, smart-drug junkie in American Intellectuals. Now, ironically, things have come full-circle for this former law studen: She's playing a lawyer on Ally McBeal.
But that is by no means all this self-professed car fanatic from Down Under does. When she not manhandeling opposing counsel on one of the hottest shows on television, you might find de Rossi speeding around Santa Monica in her brand new BMW M#, or pampering Bean, her Maltese, at a local spa for pets. She recently ended a four year realtionship and is enjoying the solitude. "No dates for this girl. I'm having a lot of 'me time'-it's really good. Especially when you work as hard as I do, doing an hour long show...who knew that you were there for 12 hours a day? So when you're not, you just don't want to hear football on the television, you know?"
Don't worry, she'll come out of it. In the meantime, de Rossi is quite comfortable changing the world of her own. "My whole idealogy of studying law was to help people and make a difference and all that shit. Now I feel like with acting, you can pretty much do the same thing by not showing yourself as a one-dimensional, stupid, blonde woman that's just the sidekick to some faculous action hero."