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Looking to Make All the Wright Moves : Movies: Robin Wright, now starring in 'Forrest Gump,' tries to juggle family life and rising fame on the big screen.

July 06, 1994|JAMES GRANT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The couple met in 1988 before making the film "Loon." Penn subsequently backed out, while Wright went on to a romance, both on and off screen, with Penn's replacement, Jason Patric. Wright and Penn met again when they starred in "State of Grace" two years later. The connection they felt was immediate, although both claim the romance did not blossom until after the filming concluded.

Penn wasn't the only one who changed as a result of the relationship. "He helped me to believe that I could be strong and stand up for myself," Wright says.

The press has hounded the couple about marriage plans ever since they first appeared in public together in 1990. If there are any plans, she's not about to talk about them. She's too busy playing Mom to their son and daughter.

Clearly, motherhood has changed her perspective on life. "I think it grounds you," she says. "But I think it would be the equivalent of feeling yourself having grown up. Suddenly, you have kids and zip, you're there."

The pull of motherhood always enters into Wright's decision to take on new acting assignments, including the decision to do "Gump," even though her son was only 4 weeks old when filming began. "People asked me, 'How could you?' . . . That was a major thing, but there was something about the script. I knew it was going to be great, so I dealt with the circumstances. I was just really tired."

Not surprisingly, the actress remains persnickety about her selection of projects. She turned down lead roles in "The Firm" and in the sequel-to-the-sequel "Batman Forever." She withdrew from the role of Maid Marian opposite Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" after learning she was pregnant. She turned down a part in "Born on the Fourth of July"; after discussing the project with director Oliver Stone, she reportedly informed him he had a problem with women.

There were no such problems with "Gump." She felt so comfortable with Hanks and the rest of the cast that she was even at ease during a prolonged nude scene, in which she warbles "Blowin' in the Wind" wearing only a G-string, a guitar and a lot of hair spray, and during a love scene with Hanks.

She rolls her eyes remembering shooting the love scene. "It's always awkward. Always odd. Always sweaty." Wright takes another long drag from her cigarette. "It's uncomfortable."

Wright most recently has completed work on "The Crossing Guard," her first film with Penn, who directed the film, since "State of Grace." Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston star, and Wright plays the love interest of David ("Indian Runner") Morse.

"I hear from older people that, with experience, you feel that things that used to burden you in your 20s don't anymore. It's a bit easier to figure things out and not let it abuse you, like Jenny (in "Gump") has let things abuse her. Even though she knew it was not the right path, she had to do it anyway. That was her fate. I can't wait to get to that point where I can say, 'Yeah. It happened. That's life.' "

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