WHEN HE WON THE PART OF THE man he calls “my idol” in the Fox TV bio Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story, Dennis Boutsikaris experienced Woody Allen-like angst. On the one hand, this was a break for the actor previously best known as writer Jerry Harper on Tom Arnold’s The Jackie Thomas Show. On the other, the miniseries, which airs this week, tells the story of Allen’s life with Farrow and his affair with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. “I still have second thoughts about the movie,” says Boutsikaris. “I’ve never met Woody Allen, and after this I probably won’t.”
It almost doesn’t matter. To prepare for the role, Boutsikaris, 42, spent hours watching Allen’s movies and playing Allen’s favorite Louis Armstrong records. Director Karen Arthur approved. “We didn’t want someone who would give a weak imitation,” she says. “That’s a hard head to get into.”
Start with the hair. “They shaved my hairline back, dyed my hair red, thinned it, then shaved a bald spot,” says Boutsikaris. “Then the nose question came up.” Onscreen, Boutsikaris wears a plastic proboscis, which caused him to break out in itchy red welts.
Somehow, Boutsikaris and costar Patsy Kensit, as Farrow, muddled through. The script culminates with the couple’s 1992 child-custody battle. “I’m loath to express any opinion about their private lives,” says Boutsikaris.
His own life doesn’t much resemble Allen’s. He grew up in Berkeley Heights, N.J., the son of an ad exec and a homemaker. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1974, he worked off-Broadway and in 1982 played Mozart in Broadway’s Amadeus. He lives in Nyack, N.Y., with his wife of 13 years, actress Deborah Hedwall, their daughter, Nina, 7, and son Costa, 4. Still, when it comes to feelings of dread and apprehension, he has his idol down pat. “Mr. Allen is a busy man,” says Boutsikaris. “I hope he has something better to do than watch this film.”