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"Vinny" Star Marisa Tomei Advises Aspiring Actors

By Zachary R. Mider, Contributing Writer

Marisa Tomei, known for playing spunky characters in films such as "My Cousin Vinny," gave some spunky advice to members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club Friday afternoon.

About 45 students crammed into Rehearsal Room C of the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) on Brattle Street to ask Tomei about the difference between acting in film and on stage, the advantages of being a celebrity and the significance of an enigmatic tattoo on her right foot.

Although she refused to explain the tattoo, Tomei was candid and effervescent.

When asked what she did for fun, Tomei said, "This is fun."

Since Sept. 10, she has been in Cambridge as part of the cast of "We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!" at the A.R.T, which closed yesterday.

Tomei, 35, is most famous for her role in "My Cousin Vinny", which won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1992. She most recently starred in "Slums of Beverly Hills".

During her hour-long talk, Tomei gave advice for those hoping to launch their acting careers. She was skeptical of big acting schools and programs.

"I'm glad that I dropped out of B.U.," she said, referring to her one-year stint at Boston University.

Tomei said that many college programs are not tailored to individuals' needs.

"Sometimes those programs can smash down their instincts," she said.

Her first experience with theatre came early, during a summer in a small community in upstate New York, where she participated in impromptu theatre.

"It gave me a feeling of theatre being so integral to the community," Tomei said.

Jennifer Y. Hyman '01, who is also a Crimson editor, asked Tomei if she felt typecast because she always seemed to play characters with "attitude."

"I don't mind that. I just like people that are more characters," Tomei said. "I liked playing Dottie Perez [in "The Perez Family"]. I don't want to be Shirley Jones [who played Laurie in "Oklahoma"]."

"I'm not sure how professionally she acted--how much time she put into thinking about the questions," Ramy M. Adeeb '00 said of the talk, although he said he found it interesting.

But others valued the informal style.

"I found her really refreshing," Hyman said. "She was a nice escape from the intellectualism of Harvard and Harvard dramatics...I felt like she was talking to us as friends."

Brian J. Rosenthal '00 was even more enthusiastic.

"I was inspired by this. I want to be like Marisa Tomei," Rosenthal said.

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