He’s best known as Billy Campbell on Melrose Place, and she was Oscar-nominated for Leaving Las Vegas. But growing up in New Jersey, Andrew and Elisabeth Shue were part of a “quintessentially ’70s soccer family,” says Andrew. Now the pair have produced the independent film Gracie, loosely based on their own childhood—and young Elisabeth’s determination to play on a boys’ team. In theaters June 1, the movie was a family affair: Andrew plays a coach, Elisabeth is the mom of the heroine (Carly Schroeder), her husband, Davis Guggenheim, directed, and the project is dedicated to the Shues’ older brother William, who died in an accident at 26 (see box). Long after hanging up their cleats, Andrew, 40, and Elisabeth, 43, spoke with PEOPLE’s Natasha Stoynoff about working—and playing—together.
Is sibling rivalry an issue for you?
ANDREW: We keep most of our competitiveness on the soccer field.
ELISABETH: Where I have the great challenge of trying to take him down.
ANDREW: For the record, she hasn’t beaten me yet, but it could happen soon. I’m now admitting that’s possible!
You come from a family of soccer nuts [Andrew and William Shue both played soccer at Dartmouth, and their younger brother John played for Harvard]. How did your love of the sport as a kid inspire the movie?
ELISABETH: Growing up I played with my brothers in the yard, so it didn’t seem weird to play on a boys’ team. And I looked so much like a boy—everyone had that shag haircut—they didn’t know I was the girl until the end of the game.
ANDREW: And they’d go, she was the girl? She was good!
Now as a mom of three [to Miles, 9, Stella, 6, and Agnes, 11 months], is working out still important to you?
ELISABETH: I play tennis for two hours every day. I want to compete at the lowest level of pro tennis—it’s my own personal goal. Once I accomplish that, I quickly take care of my job as an actress, then I become just a regular mom.
Andrew, since Melrose Place you’ve started a family [three boys ages 10, 8 and 3 with wife Jennifer Hageney, a florist] and helped start up the Internet group CafeMom.
ANDREW: Jennifer and I have a great balance of raising our kids and living in New Jersey and working on our projects. I get my kids on the bus in the morning, then go to the office. CafeMom is now the largest social network on the Web for moms, and I’m involved with the strategic marketing. My kids all play soccer as well.
Do all the Shues get together and square off on the field?
ELIsABETH: Andrew’s kids have an unfair advantage. He’s built a soccer field in his backyard. A real soccer field.
ANDREW: But your kids have you.
Gracie was made in honor of Will, who died in 1988. How did your parents react?
ELIsABETH: They really loved it, [but] I think they were grateful that much of the movie was fictional. My father was especially overwhelmed, just being able to feel my brother Will’s spirit alive onscreen.