Metcalf was there at the base ment beginning of an ensemble that would become one of the most prestigious in the country; it included Oscar nominees John Malkovich ("In the Line of Fire," "Places in the Heart") and Sinise ("Forrest Gump"), and Jeff Perry, whom Metcalf married. (Now divorced, they have an 11-year-old girl, Zoe. She also has an 11-month- old boy, Will, by her current companion, actor Matt Roth.)
"It was like 'Peyton Place,' " Metcalf recalls bemusedly. "We were left alone for 10 years. We were free to do anything. You could get naked. You gave everything, even in roles you had no business doing. I played a 12-year-old in 'The 5th of July.' I played the mom in 'True West,' which I still couldn't play."
"From the beginning, you could see that Laurie didn't have to say a lot to get her meaning across," Sinise said. "She had great natural ability. Her work seemed effortless. She had an uninhibited quality, yet she was very simple, very clear."
Steppenwolf gained national attention with a 1982 production of "True West," the Sam Shepard play. The inevitable pressures of success began to pull the group apart as individual careers began to take off. Metcalf's performance two years later in "Balm in Gilead" was the talk of New York's theater cognoscenti. ("The reports on that performance are legion," Goodman says. "A lot of my friends told me about it.") It led to roles in two Susan Seidelman movies: "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Making Mr. Right."