Daryl Hannah: Rich Little Rich Girl

"Daryl was this sweet, incredible-looking creature," observes a friend of the actress's from that time. "She was like Dorothy Stratten in some ways. She was luckier, though, because [Binder] found and promoted her and not some psychopath like Paul Snider." In fact, the lead role in Star 80, Bob Fosse's account of the murder by husband Snider of Playboy centerfold and budding actress Stratten, is one of the few that Hannah admits regret about losing. (Mariel Hemingway got the role.)

Binder was pretty straight with me," Hannah says. "He'd gotten me a lot of work. Even if it was a really well-known, incredible director, if he knew the guy was interested in me in that way, he would not send me out. Chuck revolves in that world and knows which guys are like that, probably has been like that himself. Luckily, he wasn't like that with me."

Binder shepherded Hannah through the early days of go-see's and auditions that led to Ridley Scott's casting her in the 1982 Blade Runner. Hannah's sullen, androgynous charisma won her notice, and her first agent. Producer Leonard Goldberg appropriated Hannah as his "discovery" when she appeared as a fashion model--a thinly disguised Brooke Shields--in a TV movie, Paper Dolls. But the incipient sex bomb seemed profoundly uneasy with her pin-up quotient. She demanded a body double for Summer Lovers, the menage-a-go-go debacle directed by Randal Kleiser. Peter Gallagher, Hannah's co-star and fellow survivor, found her "terribly bright" but "very young in some kind of interplanetary way." Today, Hannah is loath to discuss the film. Shooting love scenes in Reckless, her next film, with Aidan Quinn, Hannah broke out in hives. "As soon as I get hired, they start talking about, 'Oh, and the nude scene....' What nude scene? It's just a drag. There are some definite sleazebags around. Every once in a while, you step in a little doggie-doo. I've often been talked into things, because I always doubt my initial instincts. I'm getting a little bit stronger in believing in my own instincts now."

But, playing Madison, the innocently randy mermaid in Splash, thrust Hannah into the collective fantasies of a good percentage of America's male population. The 1984 movie made money in tons, and Hannah became the blonde of the moment, among the first to get a crack at "A" scripts, with covers of Life, and People to attest to her visual appeal. But for once, or so said her Hollywood coworkers, smarts went along with the killer bod. "If anyone has ideas about her being some blonde bimbo, they're wrong," Splash director Ron Howard observed. Still, journalists quoted Hannah as confessing that she sometimes couldn't remember to feed herself or had to "really work at ordinary things--like putting gas in the car."

"After Splash," she says, "everybody saw me as The Blonde. They forgot about the personality aspect, how much character there was in the part, and wanted to cast me as a decorative thing. Nothing good comes from that." In Hannah's case, little good has. In The Pope of Greenwich Village, she barely registered in all that sub-Scorsese murk. Far more embarrassing was Clan of the Cave Bear -- One Million Years B.C. minus the Neanderthal va-va-va-voom of Raquel Welch. In Legal Eagles, Hannah was but a percentage point in the quintessential '80s movie deal. In Oliver Stone's testosterone-fueled Wall Street, Hannah's performance prompted one critic to liken her screen presence to "a throw pillow." Perhaps the erstwhile blonde of the moment's moment had passed.

Some in Hollywood believe that Hannah's instincts and career advisors have served her badly. In fact, Hannah and manager Chuck Binder temporarily parted company during her run of bum movies. "I like to work," she says, with a touch of defensiveness. "In a lot of cases, you have to pick the best of what's around, or what's offered to you, in order to keep working."

What others say is that Daryl Hannah is a very rich, very headstrong young woman who ought to take her career far more seriously. Apparently, director Fred Schepisi had to talk her into Roxanne, the improbable 1987 hit which helped nudge Hannah toward bankability again. She had been intent on convincing Schepisi to go instead with second choice Christine Lahti.

Others argue that Hannah is paradoxical. While giving off a careless vibe, she is actually a case study in blonde ambition. On the good will generated by Roxanne, Hannah took her production auspices, Girlie Pictures, to Lorimar for a two-year stint. None of her own projects came off, so the would-be mogul chose director Neil Jordan's misbegotten High Spirits. Hannah played a lovestruck ghost, a sort of supernatural sister to Madison the mermaid, but opposite her was Steve Guttenberg, who is no Tom Hanks. The movie evaporated.

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