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The TV Priscilla Presley and the 'Hardcore' Hooker Is a Woman for All Seasons

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When actress Season Hubley prepped for her steamy role in Hardcore—she plays a prostitute who helps George C. Scott search for his daughter in the sordid pornography underworld—she went beyond the call of duty. “I wanted to see how hookers looked and acted,” she explains. “I wanted to talk to them.” So, after conquering initial squeamishness, Hubley persuaded a San Diego “nude encounter parlor” to let her try out and actually stripped and talked to a young sailor from behind a plate of glass. The enthralled sailor stayed on for an extra 30 minutes, but “the experience left me so weak and sick, I went into the bathroom and threw up,” Season remembers. “It was heartbreaking—the terrible loneliness of both the girls and the men.”

As an actress the encounter paid off. Hubley’s performance in director Paul Shrader’s movie, out this month, is so touching that she all but steals it from the formidable Scott. The 27-year-old Hubley might have had some qualms about being typecast as “the bad girl” after also playing a siren on Family and the rebellious Tanya in Loose Change last year. But they were ended last Sunday with her equally authentic performance as Priscilla Presley on ABC’s three-hour docudrama. “At first I felt so strongly about not being a part of the exploitation of Elvis that I refused,” she admits. Then reality intruded. “I realized it was the best thing that could happen to my career.”

To her social life too. Season now has “a very important friendship” with the man who played Elvis, Kurt Russell, 26. She has visited his ski house outside Aspen, Colo., and Kurt has been to her place in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon. Yet they both scoff at the notion that their on-camera emoting triggered the romance. “That’s like asking if two plumbers fell in love because they were working over the same toilet,” Russell guffaws.

“We have so little in common that we can barely argue,” says Season. “I’m a total liberal, and he’s a right-winger. I’m into astrology, and he couldn’t care less. I’m an Eastern person, and he’s a Westerner. I’m kind of superstitious,” she continues. “I’m afraid that if I talk about it, it will go away. Too many good things are happening to me at once. I’m used to coping with bad things.”

Season was born Susan on New York City’s East Side, but explains, “When I was about 12, one of my friends said I was as changeable as the seasons, and the name stuck.” The family’s fortunes were “erratic,” due largely to her late father, Grant Hubley, who was a writer and small-time financial speculator. Her mother, Julie, who has since remarried, “bore it with good grace.” But at 14 Season rebelled and left home for Greenwich Village. “I started experimenting with drugs and relationships. A lot of people I knew then didn’t live through that period,” she says sadly. One was rock superstar Jimi Hendrix, “a volunteer older brother to me. If he had taken the advice he gave me, he might be alive today. But he let drugs rule his life.” Season says, “Those experiences taught me who I am—a traditional person with old-fashioned values about marriage, children and my life-style.”

She decided to try acting after graduation from high school, and a friend suggested she call his agent. “The first part he sent me out on, I got,” she says matter-of-factly. It was the lead in a TV movie, Bobbie Jo and the Big Apple Goodtime Band. Later, while filming a rock version of Othello, Season also got pneumonia “and decided to leave New York and the cold for L.A.” There, she lived with a girlfriend and several dogs in a 1965 Ford Galaxy. “I would shower at friends’ homes,” she explains, “and get my mail at a bar where actors hung out.”

Her breakthrough came with the title role in the movie The Lolly Madonna War, where she met casting director Joyce Selznick. A sort of professional godmother to a brood that includes Ronee Blakely and Kurt Russell, Selznick added Season to the group. “She saw what I was capable of doing and convinced me,” Season says. “She sees talent and fights for you.” Hubley has worked steadily ever since, except for a brief tailspin after doing a Kung Fu episode with David Carradine, whom she also dated. “I got caught up in a relationship that I found so disorienting I would wake up in the morning crying,” she recalls. “I moved to a little dark apartment in Hollywood where the cockroaches spoke with a New York accent and picked up the pieces of my life.”

Season is trying to avoid confusing her roles and real life. During Hardcore she was playing street girl on-camera and off before she noticed that Scott “could step in and out of his character like a coat. He put it on for shooting and then took it off the minute the camera stopped. It was a real discovery.”

Though she’s been in L.A. eight years now, “I still feel like an alien,” she admits. “The streets are too clean and nobody walks around. I would like to become well known enough and so much in demand that I could move out of town.” Where to? “Maybe to the mountains. Maybe to Colorado.” She also would “love to learn to race cars and write better song lyrics.” But all in all, the lady is satisfied. “I’m just coming into a relaxed time and feeling good about my life.” For everything, after all, there is a season.