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A Far, Far Place From 'Melrose'

May 26, 1996|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Melrose Place's" resident blond bad girl insists she isn't out to change her image with her latest TV movie "Shattered Mind," airing Monday on NBC.

But Heather Locklear's legion of male admirers, which most notably include Wayne and Garth of "Wayne's World" fame, will be shocked to see that the object of their devotion is distinctly unglamorous and very, very un-Amanda in the disturbing drama. Locklear plays a dowdy young married woman caring for her two children when she learns she has Multiple Personality Disorder.

"The director said, 'I don't want anybody to know it's you,' " recalls Locklear, who is friendly and perky despite suffering from a bad cold that has left her voice hoarse and scratchy.

"But I see me easily," she adds with a smile, curling her whippet-slim, size 2 form on a sofa in a Universal City hotel suite. "I know what I looked like in eighth grade and [what my] hair color was then. So I don't think it is really playing it down. The clothes are unattractive, but it's not that bad. I grew up with hand-me-downs, so it wasn't a big deal. It was great not to have hair and makeup people all over you, though they had to color my hair [dark] every day. Then the makeup person put concealer on my eyelashes and my eyebrows, so it was all toned down."

In "Shattered Mind," Locklear effortlessly segues from Ginger, a wild, tough-talking prostitute, to a terrified child name Bonnie, to DJ, a tough male teenager, to Suzy, the suicidal mother of two who finds her life and marriage spinning out of control when her sexually abusive father dies.

The actress, who is married to Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, shot "Shattered Mind" last year during her hiatus from "Melrose."

"I always figure I am not going to work [during hiatus] and then this came up," she says. "I said, 'OK, if I am going to do multiple personalities, it can't be cheesy. It depends on who the director is because this is a scary thing. I don't want to look like a fool.' Stephen Gyllenhaal ["Paris Trout"] was interested in doing it. So I met with him and that really made up my mind to to it. But as soon as I said yes, I said to myself, 'What am I getting myself into?' "

Playing a character with Multiple Personalty Disorder did wonders for the careers of Joanne Woodward in "Three Faces of Eve" and Sally Field in "Sybil," but the 34-year-old Locklear says she didn't want this to become "Sybil II."

"If this plays like 'Sybil,' what is the point of me doing it? I don't want to be compared to doing 'Sybil.' There is no reason to do it. It has got to be different."

Locklear and Gyllenhaal worked intensively in rehearsals to make certain that her performance would be different. It took Locklear a while to make the subtle transformation from one character to another.

The shooting schedule was grueling and exhausting--six days a week for three weeks. "Sunday was the only day of rest," she says. "My husband wasn't home for half of it, so I could just go home and go to bed. It was just nice to have a light moment every once in a while. A lot of times I would just lay in my trailer and think."

After filming was completed, Locklear was still haunted by those characters. "That depression kind of hangs on," she acknowledges. "The sadness of all the characters just stays with you. I was walking around saying, 'What's wrong with me?' It took me a while to get out of it."

Locklear suffered no such angst making the feature comedy "The First Wives Club," due out later this year. "It was really fun to go to New York," she says with enthusiasm. "I play James Naughton's wife, and Stockard Channing was his first wife. [The character is] very smart but he was basically trading in his wife for a younger model."

That film was shot while "Melrose Place" was in production. "They let me off on a Thursday or a Friday and I would fly to New York and work on Friday and Monday. It is great fun to work on a big-budget feature."

As for "Melrose," Locklear acknowledges what a lot of fans of the Fox series have been saying: the tongue-in-cheek soap lost its way this year.

For example, fans were shaking their heads in disbelief when Amanda ended up seducing her first "Melrose" amour, Billy, to keep her advertising job and then professed her love a few weeks later for the doctor she knew was responsible for destroying the life of her "one true love" (one of the many "Melrose" walk-on guest stars).

"I think some of the other cast members think [the same thing]," she says. "I think the writers think that. We all noticed it. It kind of brings you down a little bit. The dialogue is important and the witty lines that make it funny and fun, rather than making everyone live through giant explosions. They are going to try to bring it back to where it should be."

Locklear, who has one more year on her contract, says the show is still fun for her, "when I am actually actively involved in [a story line] and it's not me explaining [a plot point] to everyone else. [And] when it is not repeating itself. A lot of times I say, 'I just did this [scene] last week with Allison. I thought she was fired and now she is coming back and I am having the same conversation.' "

Though she would like to do more features, Locklear enjoys working on a series. She formerly starred in "T.J. Hooker" and "Dynasty." "I like the security," she explains. "It's fun and exciting. 'Melrose Place' has been such a blast. It has been a great ride."

"Shattered Mind" airs Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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