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capturing_skeet

'Newton' star enjoys the ride (Date: March 27, 1998)

Although Skeet Ulrich is not yet as famous as Matthew McConaughey or Ethan Hawke, his co-stars in today's true-life crime saga "The Newton Boys," he is in a class apart already.

At 26, Ulrich is the first to announce his planned retirement from acting.

"I'm going to live on my farm and make furniture. Hopefully, I'll make six more films, and that will be enough," Ulrich announced.



What's odd about this declaration is that Ulrich is by everyone's notion on the cusp of a brilliant career. The New York University drama grad is pegged as a likely successor to McConaughey or Matt Damon as Hollywood's It Guy.

His previous films, which include "Touch" and "Scream," were considered preludes to what was to have been a breakthrough role in the Oscar-winning comedy-drama, "As Good as It Gets."

Cast opposite Oscar-nominee Greg Kinnear as his hustler/model-turned-boyfriend, Ulrich had a romance and a running joke about an obsession with Brad Pitt that became history when the film was edited. "I was in 20 scenes, and now it's three," Ulrich said.

But that's hardly why he's quitting.

"I'm not at all bitter about this business. I like filmmaking. It's just there are things better. I like my life more than I like my job."

Is it going to be easy to turn down the big money? When Matt Damon said no, Ulrich inherited the plum lead role as a bushwhacking soldier in the $35 million "To Live On," the currently filming Civil War-era romance from Ang Lee ("The Ice Storm"). Ulrich stars opposite singing sensation Jewel, who is making her film debut.

"I still have to sleep at night," he said with a shrug, lighting a Camel and scratching the 19th century-style goatee he's grown for the film.

"It's hard," he said, searching for a way to explain what sounds nonsensical. "Suddenly you're taking on this lifestyle, and you step up your commitment to the game and part of me is not willing to do that. The battle's been trying to figure out to just do it or go at it a little slower. Or just get out of it."

What could be the decisive factor in that debate could be his wife of five months, English actress Georgina Cates.

"Marrying my wife is the greatest thing I've ever done, and certainly it's made me a happier man. I'm much more confident in following what I believe and not worrying about the consequences," he said. "Having the courage to say this makes me happy: Life's too short. That's purely from the beauty of my wife."

It not only looks, smells and feels like the real thing, for Ulrich it's one step beyond that, if possible. "Swear to God, it was beyond love at first sight. Honestly. The second I saw her eyes, I knew I'd marry her."

How to explain it?

"Ask someone who understands the chemistry of love a little more than I do," he answered.

With such momentous decisions - love, marriage, retirement - talking about his current movie seems of less-than-earthshaking importance. But Ulrich is keen on "The Newton Boys." He plays Joe Newton, one of four brothers who stole an impressive amount of money in their 1920s career as bank and railroad robbers. They were notable as well for the lack of bloodshed in their armed robberies.

"I love this kind of film. I've never been a film buff or watched tons of movies," said Ulrich, who grew up mostly in Atlanta, "but 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' is probably the only film I own of that genre."

He thinks once more of retiring, of getting back to his working farm in Virginia with the 90 cows. "Garbo had it right," he said of the movies' most famous retiree, the legend who retired at the top of her fame and never returned to face a film camera.

"Twenty years from now, I know where I'll be: I'll be at home."

From: The Boston Herald | Date: March 27, 1998 | Author: Schaefer, Stephen
Tags: 1998 articles, skeet ulrich, the newton boys
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