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Schoeffling Carves Out a Niche Away From the Movie Set

December 15, 1990|LIBBY SLATE

Michael Schoeffling, co-starring in "Mermaids" as a mysterious convent caretaker who captures Winona Ryder's teen-age fancy, may never have to stand in the unemployment line. Between such film assignments as "Sixteen Candles," "Belizaire the Cajun" and "Longtime Companion," the 30-year-old actor has a successful furniture-making business at his home near Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"Actors spend most of their time out of work, so I actually spend more time making furniture," he says. "The thing about furniture that's much better than acting is that it's just me. There's no director, no script--the concept is me, unless a client wants something. In film work you do the best you can under the given circumstances, but you don't have control. At least, I don't."

Not that Schoeffling particularly aspires to attaining the kind of stardom that commands on-set omnipotence. He prefers living with his wife and two young children in his native state because there he "can afford to live like a king, and there's a change of seasons. You do miss stuff (not being in Los Angeles), but it's worth it. How much money do you need? How many parts do you need?"

Schoeffling's own acting needs surfaced after he left college after a year on the wrestling team, and spent the following two years exploring Europe and North Africa, working as a cook. Upon his return, he moved to New York, where he met an agent through his actor-roommates and landed a role in "Racing With the Moon." Cut from the film, his official screen debut came opposite Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles."

Next up for Schoeffling is the spring release of the drama "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken," in which he plays Cliff Robertson's rebellious son.

Has he any other plans?

"Yeah, I have a bunch of chairs I gotta go finish."

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