This article was published in the 'Seventeen' magazine in January, 1986. This was the time when Kerri was nineteen and had finished Lucas. The article is written by Edwin Miller.
For a crash in Hollywood glamour, there's nothing like making three movies back-to-back while you're still a high school senior from suburban New Jersey. Word of Kerri Green's perky appeal flashed through the Hollywood grapevine after she made her initial splash in The Goonies , last summer's fantasy about adventurous kids, following up as John Candy's teenbopper daughter in Summer Rental, a screw ball comedy about a family on Holyday. And next month, just after her nineteenth birthday, Green will turn up in her first lead role – in Lucas, a gentle romance about unrequited love. Hollywood wasn't quit what this teenager anticipated . "It's fun to work in Los Angeles," she reports, ”but I could never live there. Real people don’t walk around with this simile on their face, showing their teeth, all the time. Everybody wants to be a movie star! In the supermarket, it’s as if they’re all scared that you could be someone important. Or somebody important could be watching them. They’re all so careful – and friendly – that they don’t seem real.”
Five feet one and a half inches tall, Green has huge brown eyes, red hair, and freckles to match. Her teeth flash in a series of spontaneous smiles as she chats on, but you’d never call her plastic. Clad in a tank top the colors of orange sherbet and a white denim skirt, she’s as bouncy as a Ping-Pong ball in flight; words burst from her lips like bubbles from from fizzy soda. Her account of making movies is the next best thing to being in one yourself. Talking about Lucas, she explains, ”Charlie Sheen plays a football player, and I become a cheerleader to be near him – he likes me , but he’s been going with somebody else for three years and doesn’t know what he wants to do. In the meantime , Corey Haim – he plays Lucas – has a mad crush on me. My character feels love for him – but not the same kind. The girl I play is sixteen – she’s a little bit independent , she’s learning how to be honest with people without hurting them. Her father has just left her mother, and they’ve just moved – she’s come into a whole new territory.”
Green discovered that her character in Lucas required lots of concentration and studying of lines all night, unlike the role of the fourteen-year-old in Summer Rental, which she found to be a snap. She modeled that girl after kids she knew in high school: ”Their socks had to match the stripes in their shirt and their earrings had to go with the bandanna in thier hair and the eyeliner matched the shoes. ”She adds, ”Sometimes I got stick of her, but she was cut, with her earphones and chewing gum, putting on lip gloss like I did when I was in her age. Now, ” observes Green dryly, ”I know what those girls in school thought about every morning – they had to get all thoose pieces together while I just put on pants and a shirt and go!”
In The Goonies, her first movie, her role mostly called for being ”either scared or excited,” but there was one highlight: a screen kiss with fellow ”Goonie” Sean Astin. ”The two of us were so scared,” she confides. ”I was eighteen and had to kiss a fourteen-year-old boy and I felt like a child molester!”
The cast ranged in age from ten to eighteen – Kerri, who had that birthday on the set. Despite being the oldest , she was intimidated because most of the other kids had acting experience. ”Although it helps to get things out into the open,” she says, ”I wasn’t going to say I was scared to death. I took a backseat and watched. They were regular kids – by the time you got to know them, you’d beat up on them or say , ’Go shut up and leave my alone!’ ”
She giggles as she recalls the cast classroom. ”Picture a trailer, not very big, with two teachers and seven crazy, hyperenergetic kids. People walking by would be astonished to see the trailer moving up and down. Some of us were playing games, some were fighting . . . It was a lot of fun , but sometimes you had to say , ’I can’t handle this, and you just had to get out. We all keep in touch ,” she adds. ”It’s as if the’re family. You miss them and want to see them , and sometimes you can’t stand them. I don’t have a little brother , but I feel I have about five little brothers now.”
While Green says simply, ”I learned how to survive on The Goonies,” she adds, ”I learned about the technical parts of making a movie on Summer Rental. ’What’s this thing called?’ and ’How do you do that?’ There’s so much to it! I always thought that the camera just followed people around to film a scene – but everything is shot over and over, and then it’s all cut together!” As a result, she can no longer watch a movie with blithe innocence. ”I see the reality behind it all now, ” she says, ”like, sometimes when the actors seem to be looking at the most magnificent sights, they’re not really there. I have to tune out that knowledge so I can watch a movie and still get involved.!”
She also learned that a screenplay is just a outline. ”You can get have a great script and and end up with a cruddy film; you could have a cruddy script and end up with a good film. A lot comes from the director and actors you’re working with. In Summer Rental, John Candy and the director, Carl Reiner, would think up the funniest things right on the set. With Lucas, we’d sit around and talk about things that happened to us that were like those in the script. We’d try to figure out, ’How can I make this scene real?’ ”
Kerri Green was born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York, where her father works for Chemical Bank in special projects . With her younger sister, she grew up in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, about a forty-five-minute drive from New York. She began trying out plays in junior high school, she recalls, ”because the people onstage looked like they were having such a good time.”
After seeing Green in a school play, a friend of her mother’s gave her the name of a manger who sent young actors around to audition for TV commercials. When she was fourteen, she was hired as an extra to dance in Jordach jeans commercial, but she didn’t work again for a long time. ”I started at a very awkward age ,” she reflects. ”I looked like a little pip-squeak . My manager would send me on ’kiddie calls, ’ telling me to say I was eleven! It was silly because they don’t care how old you are – it’s what you look like. I wasn’t right for many parts, so I didn’t get many calls .”
She didn’t have as many roles as she would have like in school, either, so she became a cheerleader. ”That’s how I know to spell Pascack!” she says with a grin, joking about her alma mater, Pascack Hills High. ”Cheerleading was fun for a couple of years, but I did’nt like all the politics that were along with it, the silliness and the uniform. We had to wear them in school the day before a game to get people psyched up.”
Time passed, but Green couldn’t get the acting bug out of her system. Gradually, she found herself thinking like the pro she hoped to become, realizing that she wasn’t dedicated enough. ”In order to make it,” she says, ”you have to be always thinking, always concentrating on your next audition. Otherwise, it’s waste of time.” Her growing involvement played havoc with her grades. ”Most of my teachers would be saying, ’Kerri? Hello, Kerri?’ But all I could think of was this interview I was going on. I got to the point where I took just enough required subjects to graduate.”
The summer 1984, Green announced to her family that she wasn’t going to camp as usuall, that she was staying home to get a job at a Roy Rogers so she could make some money and go to the city. ”That’s all I did,” she says, ”–go to audition and work–and that’s how I got The Goonies. ”
When she went on location to Oregon to shoot the film, her mother went with her as her guardian. ”Being on a moovie location is scary, ” Green says. ”You wouldn’t want to go by yourself to a place you’ve never been, involved with a lot of strangers. You need something familiar. Plus,” she adds, ”I love my mom.” They spent a month in Oregon, later shifting to the Burbank Studios in Los Angeles, where she and her mother rented a condominium. ”I just loved traveling,” she says, ”after living in one town practically my whole life and being so bored with school that I would cry at night.”
Rooming with her mother brought an unexpected reward. ”We had lived together all our lives,” she explains. ”But we’d never been with each other so consistently. That was something new to deal with. She’s still my mother, still tells me to shut up and clean my room, but I learned how she was as a friend – we would laugh an talk and gossip and ask each other, ’Did you hear what this person said?’ That was very special.”
Filming in Los Angeles, she was overwhelmed by the number of ”faumous people” around the studio, of whom she had previously been oblivious. ”I knew some names,” she says, ”but I never really watch much TV and never read movie credits to see who the director was. I’d see a person, and someone would ask, ’Do you know who that person is?’ and I’d say no. Then I’d be told a name, and I still wouldn’t know!” She also found herself realizing that ”you could get hurt in this business very easily.” She explains, ”All the sudden, people ask for your autograph. If your start believing that you’re better then others, you can really get into trouble. Actors are important. But you can’t make a movie without the director and the crew, sets, and lights. I saw a couple of actresses who expected everybody to cater them to them – ’I want this, and I want that; the lights should be there, and I want to sit here’ . . . Most kids I’ve worked with have really been great, but some adults act more like children. Kids seem to act for fun, adults because they want to be stars and make career.”
While in Los Angelse, she acquired a mutt several months old and named him Willie. ”He’s crazy and cut, and I love him,” she remarks. ”We hadanother dog around nine years. He was little, like a Yorkie, but he had a Napolenoic complex. He thought he owned the entire neighborhood and was always running away. Finally, he never came back. It was his destiny ,” she saids with a sigh. ”I still think I’m going to see him every time I go to a new location.”
While she was shooting Summer Rental in Florida, the producer and director of Lucas flew in to audition her. ”That was so funny,” she says. ”You think of an audition in an office with someone behind a desk, and here I was in my hotel room sitting on the bed with the casting agent holding a video recorder .” She flew home to New Jerseythe day she completed shooting, repack her suitcase, and left for the West Coast the next day.
”Ididn’t expect to get the part in Lucas,” she says. ”I feel I did a good interview but wasn’t what they wanted. You always have to tell yourself that. Dealing with rejections all the time, you can never take it personally. Otherwise, you’ll become insecure, asking yourself, ’How come peolpe hate me?’ They don’t. They’re not hiring you because you’re not right for the part.”
When she first left home for the movies, Green kept the news from most schoolmates, afraid of making it a big deal. ”After I left, my sister had to handle it,” she says. ”Then she would call me up and say, ’Kerri, if one more person comes up to me and asks about you, I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill them. I’m sick of it!’ She was envious, but she was exited for me, too, and she really enjoyed it.”
When Green did return home , she occasionally felt that ”nobody really understood all that I learned and had been through in some ways.” But for the most parts, she realizes, that doesn’t matter: ”You think you’re going to change after being in the movies and not want to be with the same people, but you find your friends remain your friends even though you’ve all grow and have different experiences. It’s not like poof! you’re a different person.”
This past fall, putting the temptations of acting aside – except during summer vaccations – Green entered Vassar Collage, in Poughkeepsie, New York. ”It’s a tough school ,” she says. ”I’m scared to death but exited, too. I want to go to college like the other kids in my age, although it will be a little different for me than for most of my friends. They had to adjust to being on their own for the first time, while that’s what I’ve been doing for th past years. As much as I look forward to taking classes, I want to learn about other people. I’m curious about everything, and it would be silly to miss out.”
Missing out isn’t Kerri Green’s style.