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Stars want to shed the images that brought fame Assessments: Winona Ryder would like to play tougher characters; she's become a regular at the gym. But Sylvester Stallone says he built his 'imposing exterior' to mask feelings of inadequacy.


Now that we're at the end of the year -- and fed up with articles on how to stay trim and have that box of Christmas cookies -- it's a perfect time for the self-reflective pieces offered in the December issues of Vogue and Esquire. The reflecting is being done by movie stars Winona Ryder and Sylvester Stallone. Both actors talk about seeking liberation from the images that brought them stardom -- Ryder in an OK Vogue article that could have dug deeper, and Stallone in a long, fascinating Q & A with interviewer Susan Faludi, the feminist author of "Backlash."

The waif-like Ryder wants to play stronger, more decisive characters, such as the action hero she portrays in the coming "Alien: Resurrection." She's spending six hours a day six days a week in the gym pumping up, she tells Vogue. Meanwhile, the steel-like Stallone wants roles with less muscle, such as his character in the coming "Copland." For that role, he's fattened up and stopped going to the gym.

"When I was younger," Ryder says, "every time I'd open my mouth on the set, people would go, 'Isn't that cute? Winona has her little ideas. Isn't that cute?' " Well, "playing cute and confused doesn't interest me anymore," she says. The 25-year-old woman who no longer wants to be the good girl in films smiles confidently from the cover of Vogue, looking more grown up than we can remember. But beneath the self-assured veneer, as the article illustrates, Ryder is still a bit of a neurotic. "I'm so insecure about everything," she says, even about worrying too much.

Mr. Rocky Rambo, on the other hand, seems to have his worrying in check as he moves through a discussion that touches on cultural views of masculinity, male body image and its significance, and the difficulty of trying to change how others perceive you when you have worked all your career to establish that perception.

Says Stallone: "I grew up with a pretty profound complex of inadequacy. And, I thought the only way to override that was through creating an imposing exterior. But, as I grew older, I became unaware that I was doing it. Yet, I was wondering why people were not finding me accessible. And, then taking this part [the fat role in Copland], I didn't realize how extremely difficult it would be to change my shape and to let it go. Then, I realized I had been using it as a psychological tool for a very long time."

Hollywood and color

And, speaking of muscles, the December issue of Black Enterprise magazine shows how much potential consumer muscle African-Americans have to flex over the television and film industry. In an excellent entertainment issue that features Spike Lee holding hands with Johnnie Cochran and Olden Lee, two of the investors in Lee's "Get on the Bus," the magazine explores how African-Americans can influence Hollywood's portrayal of blacks on the big and small screen.

With articles on how to invest in African-American films, how to complain about the lack of range in television shows portraying African-Americans, and a look at who's who behind the scenes, Black Enterprise drives home the point that because African-Americans make up a large portion of the TV and film audience, they have the power to control more than the remote control.

Don't do that

There are environmentalists. And, there are Environmentalists. Take, for example, my friend who lives in environmentally sensitive Seattle. He won't even own a dog because instead of seeing man's best friend when he looks at a cute pooch, he sees a time bomb waiting to damage the earth with its "business." He, and others who not only want to protect but also worship the environment, would get a kick out of this month's Outside magazine.

In it, writer Jack Hitt, who feels inferior to his friends because zTC they are more environmentally correct than he, asks the question: "Is Anything OK Anymore?" He answers it with a big fat no. You can't rock climb with a clear conscience because it scars the rocks. You have to think long and hard before spitting out your toothpaste when you're camping because it disturbs nature.

"Even the deep blue sea doesn't provide much haven from all the nitpicking," he writes. "Snorkeling, which was once a harmless tourist business in the Caribbean, now prompts technical debates as dreary and dense as a fully convened United Nations discussing mineral rights in Antarctica. The traditional 'giant-stride' dive from the edge of your boat is now pooh-poohed, since it may alter water-flow patterns carrying invisible fish eggs. Naturally, touching anything is forbidden. Taking snapshots traumatizes the fish."

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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