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The Family That Scares Together

March 26, 1995|SUSAN KING

Showtime's "The Outer Limits" anthology series kicks off Sunday with the chilling two-hour "Sandkings." It stars three members of one of America's best and busiest acting dynasties: Lloyd Bridges, his son Beau and Beau's 10-year-old son, Dylan.

Beau Bridges plays Dr. Simon Kress, who, after five years in a secret government laboratory, has transformed inert eggs brought back from the Martian surface into living organisms. But when one of these organisms almost escapes into the Earth's biosphere, the program is shut down. Kress, though, doesn't want to abandon what he believes is the greatest discovery in the world, so he steals a sample of soil. His wife (Helen Shaver), son (Dylan Bridges) and father (Lloyd Bridges) are unaware when Kress begins to hatch the "Sandkings" in his garage. As the "Sandkings" begin to grow, Kress plunges into dementia.

"I'm probably the instigator of the whole thing," quips Lloyd Bridges, a youthful and fit 82. The Bridges clan is gathered in a hotel suite in Pasadena to discuss "Sandkings." There's a lot of good-natured ribbing and bantering among the three.

"I did a picture, 'Blown Away,' for John Watson, who is one of the executive producers of 'Outer Limits,' " Lloyd continues. "He sent me the script and said it would be great for you and Beau if you want to do it. So I read it and told Beau. Neither one of us was too happy with the script. We thought it lacked things. They fixed it a little bit more. Then I became aware that the little kid in there was a very important part and the same age as Dylan."

Lloyd was impressed with Dylan's performance as Robin Hood in a family home movie directed by Beau's older son Casey. "He was wonderful in that," Lloyd says. "He took direction, which is so important for a kid. He took it very well. I knew he could handle it. So I told his dad, 'I think we should do this, but it should be a deal for the three of us. If they don't want Dylan, they won't want us either."'

Dylan had to audition. "It look a lot of courage," Lloyd says. "It's as important as any role in there actually. It was quite an investment for them." (Both Beau and Jeff Bridges got their feet wet in the acting profession in the '50s by appearing in episodes of father Lloyd's hit TV series "Sea Hunt.")

Besides playing Robin Hood, Dylan had a tiny part in the TV movie "The Thanksgiving Promise," which was directed by his father. "I have been in lots of community theater and plays. Right now, I'm working on the lights on "Fiddler on the Roof,' " pipes up Dylan.

Beau is impressed with his son's work on the set and in the film. "You never really know until you jump in there with a young person," Beau, 53, says. "I had seen him in some of his school productions, so I knew he had a sense of play acting. But the part that is unknown is how a young person is going to react to the technical aspects of (films). I think the first day I realized very quickly he was going to be just fine."

Starring with his grandfather and father was "fun" for Dylan. "He's got his own ideas (about acting) because he has got some director in him," Beau says, glancing over at Dylan. "He makes his own home videos."

Dylan even made one while shooting the film. "There's one scene in the movie where Dylan actually operates a video camera," Beau says. "(Kress) had his son come into the garage and help him raise these aliens and asks him to film them. So unbeknown to me and most of the people in the cast and crew, Dylan loads up the camera with real film and in between takes makes his own little documentary."

Lloyd and Beau's characters have a confrontational relationship in the film. "In one scene he had to slap me and for some reason he did it about 10 times," Beau says. "I am lucky he didn't break my jaw."

"I didn't have the true emotion from you," Lloyd says, laughing.

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