By Kim Cunningham
October 04, 1993 12:00 PM


“I haven’t gone out of my way to inhabit the grotesque,” insists Tim Curry, who’s famous for his role as Frank N. Furter in the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But recently he hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to avoid it either. In HBO’s Tales from the Crypt, airing Oct. 2, Curry goes so far as to pull off a hat trick of horror, playing a conniving mother, a bland father and their repulsive daughter, named Winona. “She’s really roadkill in a dress,” says Curry, 47, who had initially turned down the triple role. “I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I’ve also stayed away from horror because of [my] early association, and then I thought, ‘Oh, lighten up.’ ”


Since his rock group, the Police, disbanded in 1986, drummer Stewart Copeland has found a new-audience by writing classical music. “As an opera composer, I get some real chinless wonders—the geeks, dweebs and social misfits,” says Copeland, 41, who guest-soloed recently with the Seattle Symphony. But then he’s changed too. A father of five, he tried unsuccessfully to dissuade his oldest son, 23, from becoming a rock drummer. “I wish he’d be a bank manager or dentist or take any honest day job. But he’ll make all the mistakes I made,” reflects Copeland. “One day, the words actually came out of my mouth, ‘Would you please get a haircut!’ ”


Irish actor Gabriel Byrne claims he first heard of American actress Ellen Barkin, now his wife, when she was set to star in the 1987 film, Siesta. “She was in London casting the movie, and they said, ‘We need a lover for Ellen Barkin.’ I thought they said Ellen Burstyn,” says Byrne, 43, who subsequently won the role and the leading lady. According to Barkin, none of this is true. “I just love the way he makes this stuff up,” says Barkin, 38, now costarring with Byrne in a new movie, Into the West. “In reality, he was about to be cast, and the director [told me so]. I’ll tell you where he gets that joke. There was this quiz in the paper that said, ‘Gabriel Byrne is married to what American actress? (a) Debra Winger, (b) Glenn Close or (c) Ellen Burstyn.’ ”


Playing an American-born daughter of Chinese immigrants in The Joy Luck Club, the new film based on Amy Tan’s novel, had special meaning for actress Ming-Na Wen. “I was the only Asian in my high school,” says Wen, who was born in Macao but grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. “I always wondered how to fit in and yet not be offended when people ask, ‘Where are you from?’ and I say, ‘Pittsburgh,’ and they say, ‘No, where are you really from?’ ” Making Joy Luck helped her find the answers. “I flew to San Francisco with another actress on the film, Tsai Chin, and when a man on the plane tried to talk to me in Japanese, I said, “No, I’m Chinese.’ Tsai said, ‘No, you’re American.’ It made me feel like I do fit in.”