In Hollywood, this face packs twice the talent

April 21, 2003|By Anna Kaplan | Anna Kaplan,SUN STAFF

Is it possible to be a normal kid who just happens to be in show business?

The answer is yes, at least for 13-year-old identical twins Curtis and Keith Garcia of Perry Hall. The eighth-graders recently came home from Los Angeles, where they spent six weeks shooting Eulogy, in which they star as the sons of Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond fame. The film, which also stars Debra Winger, Rip Torn, Monica Potter and Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), is slated to hit theaters in October.

The black comedy is about three generations of a dysfunctional family gathering for the funeral of a family patriarch. As Ted and Fred Collins, the Garcia twins play "mischievous brats" who attempt to give their grandfather the "Viking funeral" he wanted. Their favorite part of making this movie was shooting flaming arrows. "Playing with fire is always good," says Curtis.

"It's really good experience for them to work with people of this caliber," says their mother, Deanie Garcia, 49, a substitute school nurse in Baltimore County who chaperoned her sons on the Hollywood adventure.

The twins add that their favorite star to work with was Azaria, who would do Simpsons impressions for them.

They're not letting show biz get to their head, though.

"I like to sleep in my own bed," Curtis declares as he and his brother slump over the kitchen table of their parents' house in a quiet neighborhood. No matter how much they liked sunny and glitzy Southern California, they're happy to be back home with their friends and family. They're just regular 13-year-old boys, after all - Curtis likes skateboarding and sports in general, and Keith is into art, especially Japanese animation.

The six weeks they spent out west weren't all fun and games, either. The boys spent their days on the movie set. Since school-age actors in California are required to spend 15 hours a week with a tutor, after shooting wrapped for the day, the twins spent a few hours in "school," located in a trailer on the set.

"I have a lot of respect for my kids," says Deanie Garcia. "They worked very long hours, then went to school." Now that they're home, they're catching up on the work they missed at St. Joseph School in Fullerton. Next year, they will start high school at Calvert Hall.

This isn't Curtis' and Keith's first foray into acting. They've been doing commercials and bit parts in television and film for years. Some highlights on their resumes are small roles in Unsolved Mysteries, All My Children and Homicide: Life on the Street, as well as parts as extras in Species 2 and Minority Report. However, the shooting of Eulogy was their first Hollywood venture, as well as their first time away from home for longer than a few days.

When they were just 4, Deanie noticed that the twins would memorize passages from movies and act them out. She signed them up with an agent, and a week later they were on Unsolved Mysteries. "It just snowballed from there," she says. The boys never took acting classes. They got the Eulogy roles when Artisan Entertainment couldn't find the right twins in L.A. and sent out a national casting call. They had not even met Ray Romano when he saw their tape and gave them the roles.

"Up until now, [their acting] was so low-key, some of their friends didn't even know about it," says Deanie. After a six-week absence, the boys' achievements are hard to ignore. She first realized that this movie might change their lives forever when they went to a taping of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Romano introduced them and the audience cheered. "That's when it first occurred to us they might become famous."

Who knows what's next? "It remains to be seen how this will change our lives," says Deanie. "We just take it one day at a time."

She stresses that Curtis and Keith were not raised as stereotypical child stars. No one dragged them to auditions against their will or made them live in Hollywood for six months out of the year. They even went to church on Sundays during the course of filming.

But kids in their class have already started to treat the twins differently. "People have decided to start talking to me now that I'm in the movie," jokes Keith.

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