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April 7, 2001
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SJP


Potter has planted her roots
By LIZ BRAUN


If fame is going to ruin Monica Potter, it's got to find her first.

The star of Along Came A Spider lives in Cleveland.

Yes, Cleveland, Ohio. That's where the actress grew up. And after five years in Los Angeles, she moved back to Cleveland with her two young sons. Home is home.

Potter was in Toronto to promote Along Came A Spider last week. The psychological thriller has Morgan Freeman playing the same forensic psychologist/detective he played in Kiss The Girls, and Potter as a secret service agent who partners up with Freeman to recover a kidnapped child.

The film is in theatres now.

If anything is going to boost Potter into the spotlight, Along Came A Spider should do the job -- it's a big change from her usual light comedy to this dark intrigue.

"Oh, I don't know," she says, modestly. "I've had my hopes up so many times before."

Potter, usually the best thing in any movie she's in, has starred in Patch Adams, The Very Thought Of You, Head Over Heels, Con Air, Without Limits and A Cool Dry Place.

She almost didn't take the role opposite Freeman in Along Came A Spider, but the studio pursued her. "It's so ironic. I didn't trust my gut instinct on this one at all," says Potter.

"I pictured her entirely differently."

Luckily, Paramount Pictures did not.

Potter concedes, "I'm surprising myself with the things I do. It's taken other people to bring things out of me, though I've always had faith in myself. In the work I do, everybody sees me differently. I mean, I know who I am, but this is good for me. It's interesting. It sheds light on things."

Potter is one of four daughters of an inventor and a secretary and says she knew from childhood, toddlerhood really, that she wanted to be an actor one day.

Or maybe a nun. Around the age of 14, the Irish Catholic was attracted to the calm and order of the orders, but her final career decision was helped along by the fact that she was married and pregnant at 19. She had another son at age 22. After some five years of the usual dues-paying and lousy jobs, she achieved her acting goal and was cast in Without Limits opposite Billy Crudup.

Humorous and very grounded -- and beautiful -- in person, the 30-year-old Potter is no longer married, but her ex-husband, a builder, is her closest friend.

"He's the most magnificent man I've ever been involved with," she says, fervently. "We're a family. We're just not married." And yes, he lives in Cleveland, too.

Much as she enjoys her work, Potter no longer reads anything written about her, good or bad. It's too unsettling, she says. And she works hard to keep her head on straight.

Her thoughts about the future rarely involve her job, says the actress. "It's more like, where I want to be when I'm 80," she says quietly.

From what we've seen, Potter at 80 will probably still be going strong -- still working, still happy, still family oriented. Still living in Cleveland. It could happen.


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