by Shawna Malcom
The Heather Report
The 'Dollhouse" star is at it "Again"
Unlike most actresses her age, 16-year-old Heather Matarazzo has never auditioned for Kevin Williamson. The words "costarring Freddie Prinze Jr." make her cringe. And she wouldn't dream of angling for a role on one of The WB's acutely self-aware teen romps. "Can I puke now?" she says, only half joking. "No offense, but a lot of those shows have never even heard of originality. I want to do things you haven't seen a million times before."
True, Matarazzo's current gig -- as Heather Wiseman, the lonely daughter of a government-created superhero on CBS' hit sci-fi drama Now and Again -- is about as far off the Felicity path as a girl can get. But it is in keeping with the actress' penchant for unglamorous, off-kilter parts, like a molested student in the 1997 Keanu Reeves thriller The Devil's Advocate, and a mentally retarded gang-rape victim in the 1999 telepic Our Guys: Outrage in Glen Ridge. Her romance with risk began in 1996, after drawing raves as junior high Ubergeek Dawn Wiener in the Sundance sensation Welcome to the Dollhouse. "[People] still come up to me and say, 'Wow, I expected you to be uglier, Wienerdog,'" she says. "I don't know whether to take that as an insult or a compliment."
Other folks are a bit more tactful in their praise. "In a really good way, Heather's the antithesis of what we've come to expect from young actors," says Now creator Glenn Gordon Caron, who cast Matarazzo without an audition. "She has such a unique look, and her instincts are flawless. I feel I could write anything for her and she'd nail it." Case in point: An upcoming episode centers on the fanciful fallout after her character is struck by lightning.
Luckily, nothing that electrifying has marked Matarazzo's own adolescence. In fact, she fesses up to a relatively normal offscreen existence. A native Long Islander, she lives at home with mom Camille, a homemaker, and dad Ray, a data-processing manager. She loves to veg out in front of the tube (Ally McBeal's a current fave), and she recently failed the written part of her driver's license exam, missing 11 out of 20 questions. ("Hey, I got nine right," she laughs.) Matarazzo even attends public high school, and like many a graduating senior, she often frets over her wardrobe. "In the past, I seemed to play characters with absolutely no fashion sense," she says. "But these days, I'm stylin'." Well, that's one thing she has in common with those WB kids.
October 29, 1999
Todd Solondz talks about Heather Matarazzo in his film "Welcome to the Dollhouse" »