New generation of actors transcends 'cottage industry' films

The Associated Press

NEW YORK In the 1980s it was the Brat Pack. Don't even try to label the newest generation of actors.

''People like me and Brad Pitt and others are making completely different kinds of movies,'' says 24-year-old Uma Thurman, who earned an Oscar nomination for her role as a mod junkie Mob wife in ''Pulp Fiction.''

''When the Brat Pack happened, there was a certain kind of movie Sixteen Candles, Weird Science. The same people always worked together, and it was practically a cottage industry,'' Thurman says in the Feb. 27 issue of Time magazine.

Instead of the self-conscious teen roles that made Brat Packers such as Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe famous, many so-called Generation Xers have cut their teeth on films of extreme range and tenor.

Winona Ryder, 23, earned her Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Jo in the old-fashioned ''Little Women,'' on the heels of the hip ''Reality Bites.'' Keanu Reeves, 30, went from bone-head surfer boy in ''Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure'' to quoting Shakespeare for ''Much Ado About Nothing'' before breaking the banks with the action-thriller ''Speed'' last summer.

''People my age have an earnestness, a desire to do good work,'' says Mary-Louise Parker, who co-starred in Woody Allen's period piece ''Bullets over Broadway.''

But that doesn't mean they're not still kids at heart.

Says Thurman: ''I am completely a goofball nerd.''

HOOVER, Ala. Like the younger men of his books, best-selling author Pat Conroy still has a hard time getting the approval of his father.

''I think Dad still thinks it's some kind of admission that I can't bench-press 100 pounds that I'm a writer. It's like admitting I shop mainly at Victoria's Secret. He really just can't quite get it,'' Conroy said after receiving the 1995 Southern Voices Award for Distinguished Achievement.

Conroy's novels include ''The Great Santini,'' ''The Lords of Discipline,'' and ''Prince of Tides.''

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