Amy Irving's Enjoying a Close Encounter of Two Kinds: Love with Steven Spielberg and Stardom in 'The Fury'
Not since the first Lady Macbeth complained of that damned spot has an actress made a bloodier showbiz splash than 24-year-old Amy Irving. She was the sole survivor of Sissy Spacek’s wallflower’s revenge in Carrie. And in the just released The Fury, also directed by Brian DePalma, the psychokinetic vibes are Amy’s own—and the box office potential and gore are even more galore.
Half-knowing skeptics snicker that in Hollywood blood isn’t thicker than connections, and that Amy owes it all to her new boyfriend, director Steven (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) Spielberg, 30. But they’re not the next Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd. The fact is that Amy had earlier tried out for the part of Richard Dreyfuss’ wife in Close Encounters—only to be coolly told by Spielberg that she was too young. “He doesn’t come on to young actresses in his office,” Amy remembers of that meeting, adding, “and I’m glad.”
The unsuccessful audition had been DePalma’s idea, as was the casting of Amy in Spielberg’s life. But the get-together soiree he arranged for her and Spielberg—not to mention other heavies like Martin Scorsese—turned out mortifyingly when the nervous Irving got sloshed. “It may be tacky to have been impressed,” she admits, “but for a young actress to be out in that kind of company was a heady experience. I got a little silly.” Spielberg must not have noticed, since Amy, who previously dated Carrie co-star William Katt, soon moved in. They now share a Coldwater Canyon place, which she calls “the house that Jaws built.” The Jaws promotion logo is in fact inlaid in one stained-glass window, and a Close Encounters companion is planned. What’s more, Amy claims that their pet parrot can croak the five-note theme from Close Encounters.
If that suggests a thoroughly showbiz creature, well, Irving’s first walk-on was prenatal. Her then pregnant actress mother, Priscilla Pointer (Amy’s on-screen mom in Carrie and Diane Keaton’s in Mr. Goodbar), brought her onstage, in a sense, in a 1953 production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding. Her father is director Jules Irving, who recently worked on NBC’s Loose Change. Amy first acted at 9 months in Rumpelstiltskin in San Francisco. “My parents told me it was tough to be an actress,” Amy recalls. “They wanted to make sure I had the right training.” That meant New York’s High School of Music and Art and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Her Hollywood apprenticeship came in TV bit parts (The Rookies, Police Woman) and an audition for the Princess Leia role in Star Wars. (She and Carrie Fisher, who beat her out, have since become such close friends that when Amy moved out of her Laurel Canyon house to join Spielberg, Carrie moved in.)
At 5’4″, Amy wages a junk-food junkie’s weight battle that began when she had to lose 20 pounds to slither into a bikini for The Fury. She’s taking dancing lessons three hours a day in New York for her next movie, Voices. It will keep her in Hoboken, N.J. until May, though she did fly home recently to accompany Spielberg to the Directors Guild Awards (Woody Allen won) and they phone daily. “It’s important to have a home life in acting,” declares Amy. “You’re such a gypsy. When a film is over, you tear up those roots and start all over. My career used to be the most important thing to me. But Steven has changed that. Now my career and personal life break even.” Making a marriage, though, is no more imminent than making a movie together. “People get messed up about why they are together,” she says. “I don’t want to be known as Steven’s girlfriend. And we don’t want to be a Famous Hollywood Couple. I’m living my life’s fantasy right now.”