November 06, 1995 12:00 PM

HE’S THE SON OF RICHARD HARRIS, who is as well-known for boozing and brawling as for his acting (in such movies as Camelot) and singing (the 1968 hit “MacArthur Park”). So it isn’t surprising that Jared Harris, 34, fondly recalls the times he and his brothers Damien and Jaime shared with their father when all four were growing up together. The elder Harris, now 65, and Jared’s mother, Elizabeth Harris, divorced when Jared was 7, but the boys let loose during visits with Dad. “We would play soccer in the living room and smash lamps,” says Jared. “He’d be playing with us. And breaking it all as well. Crash!”

Their father—who has since cleaned up his act and appeared in such hit films as 1992’s Unforgiven—obviously had a powerful influence on his sons. Damien, 36, is a movie director (The Rachel Papers); Jaime, 32, is an actor; but Jared may be the breakout star. He can be seen in two current films: Nadja, a black comedy in which he plays Dracula’s son, and Blue in the Face (the sequel to last summer’s Smoke), in which Harris reprises his role as cigar-shop owner Harvey Keitel’s mentally retarded assistant. “[Jared’s] a better actor than I am,” says Richard Harris. “My ego would never let me play characters who are not the center of attention.”

For that matter, Jared, though no teetotaler, seems too sensible to follow in his father’s once boozy footsteps. “Even as a teenager,” he says, “I never drank for courage or to lose inhibitions.” He recalls how his mother (who later married Rex Harrison) suffered while his father drank two bottles of vodka a day. “He’d go out for cigarettes,” says Jared, “and he wouldn’t come back for two weeks.”

The London-born Jared took up acting at Duke University; after graduating, he returned to England to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1990, upon landing the part of Hotspur in Off-Broadway’s Henry IV, he moved to New York City. “Part of me would just love to be onstage every night,” he says. And if he’ll always be known to some as just another second-generation actor? “I don’t care who I get lumped with,” says Jared, “as long as I get a chance to work.”

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