The Further Exposure of Rob Morrow

Can Rob Morrow do what David Caruso couldn't? His follow-up to the respectable failure Quiz Show is Last Dance, in which he stars with Sharon Stone, who, he claims, "is the real thing."

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Based on the much-publicized skirmishes he had with the producers of the television show "Northern Exposure," I'm half expecting Rob Morrow to be standoffish, if not downright combative. So I'm pleasantly surprised and frankly relieved when the 33-year-old New Yorker greets me at a Beverly Boulevard Tex-Mex joint with a hearty hello and a handshake that's so friendly it requires two hands to execute.

Perhaps those tales of Morrow's on-set divatude were blown out of pro-portion, I think, as I follow the stylishly dressed actor to a table by the window. Or maybe, having had some success at navigating the chasm between TV and feature films (Robert Redford's Quiz Show and the upcoming Last Dance and Mother), Morrow's mellowed in the last few years. A third possibility--that Rob Morrow really is an asshole and he's just good at acting like he's not--seems less and less likely as our conversation goes on.

DENNIS HENSLEY: Your new film, Last Dance, isn't based on the Donna Summer song of the same name, is it?

ROB MORROW: (Laughs) No. It was, however, loosely inspired by the song ''Save the Last Dance for Me," though it's not used in the movie.

Q: What's your character?

A: I play a kind of rich playboy who graduates from law school and all he wants to do is meet girls and drive his Porsche. His brother, Peter Gallagher, the chief of staff to the governor in this unnamed Southern state, says. "Get off your ass and we'll put you in the clemency department until you find something to do with your life." They put me on the case of this woman, Sharon Stone, who's been on death row for 12 years and did, in fact, commit a double homicide when she was 17. But she was under the influence of crack, a fact which wasn't admitted in the trial.

Q: Sounds like it should be called Hot Babe Walking.

A: (Laughs) Sharon Stone does look beautiful. We had very intimate scenes and I was just right there with her. It was pretty heavenly.

Q: I heard you two don't have a love scene.

A: Bummer, huh? I wouldn't have complained.

Q: What surprised you most about Sharon?

A: I was impressed how flexible she was in the fray, because I didn't know what she was going to be like. We just jammed. She's the real thing.

Q: When Dead Man Walking came out were you thinking it might hurt your film?

A: Ask me that next year. If Last Dance does well, it doesn't matter.

Q: Did you audition for the role?

A: I didn't. I had worked for Disney on Quiz Show and I owed them a couple of movies. So they were nice enough to offer it to me.

Q: You've played two lawyers in a row. Do you like playing lawyers?

A: Lawyers are great characters because they effect change. My mother tried to convince me when I was starting out to become a lawyer, because, she said, "They perform too. The courtroom's their stage."

Q: Did you call her and say, "You have your lawyer son now"?

A: Well, not only that. She wanted me to be a doctor as well, and I played a doctor on the TV show.

Q: If your acting career ended tomorrow, what would you pursue?

A: I guess photography. I studied it for a while and it's a hobby of mine.

Q: How did your book of behind-the-scenes photographs from "Northern Exposure" come about?

A: I made it to give to people, and I said to my agent, "See if we can sell this." and we did, I don't think I made any money from it, but I liked handing it to people I worked with.

Q: You left "Northern Exposure" before your contract was up, right?

A: Yes. I did 101 shows. I didn't feel like I could do anything else. It was just time to move on.

Q: I read that your costar Janine Turner was upset because you didn't tell her you were leaving.

A: I understand why she was upset. Things can get leaked before they should. I had to be quiet about it so I don't know how she found out, but not from me. And she was pissed. That's definitely been smoothed over.

Q: How did your other coworkers react? Were they like, "Good for you," or did they think you were a traitor?

A: Probably both. I wasn't doing anything except trying to be truthful to myself, trying to continue to grow, I was scared that I was going to stagnate creatively, you know, so I guess you can't please everybody.

Q: By the time you quit, you had made Quiz Show, so you knew that you had some future in features?

A: Well, I didn't know necessarily, to tell you the truth. I started the process before Quiz Show came out.

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