``SCTV'' led Scorsese to comedian

November 22, 1990|By Knight-Ridder

Catherine O'Hara, the rubber-faced red-headed comedian who stars as the determined mom in John Hughes' "Home Alone," began her career in Canada on "Second City TV" which had its renaissance on American television as "SCTV Network."

One of the earliest fans of "Second City TV" was film director Martin Scorsese ("Raging Bull.") O'Hara remembers their first meeting. "I met him at the Toronto Film Festival. He came up and introduced himself. He said he was such a big fan of 'SCTV' that he had tapes of every show which had aired during the editing of 'Raging Bull.' Then he ripped out a piece of his passport and gave me his phone number and said, 'Call me when you're in New York.'"

O'Hara says she never had the courage to phone him, but that impetuous act of Scorsese had repercussions later. "I went to audition for his 'After Hours' and he told me he'd gone location scouting for 'The Last Temptation of Christ' and was stopped on the border of Russia because they wanted to know why a piece of his passport was ripped out. All I could say was 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I still have it, I'll give it back.'"

She didn't have to. Scorsese cast her in "After Hours." She has also co-starred in "Beetlejuice," "Heartburn" and the upcoming "Little Las Vegas," as well as "Home Alone."

O'Hara thinks that working with "SCTV" built her confidence. "You start in your early 20s and you're very opinionated about everything in life and then you get to go on stage with a very willing audience and mouth off. And get laughs. It's great training for developing your own writing skills -- in scene structure rather than a long story.


Eric Roberts admits that it was just a bit frightening to walk on a sound stage with George C. Scott, his co-star on HBO's upcoming "Avenging Angel" airing on Nov. 25 and again on Nov. 28. "He's a living legend to me," says Roberts. "So it's a little tense at first. But he helps you get over that."

Scott, who has been directing for years, says that's part of the director's job -- to soften anxieties on the set. "I certainly try to put my fellow actors at ease about anything, any kind of misapprehension or nervousness they might have at my presence," Scott says. "The reason is so that we can get on with it, get along and do the job properly."

In ''Avenging Angel,'' Scott plays Roberts' would-be father-in-law who may have a secret past.

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