Helen Hunt

'Dr T. and the Women,' 'Pay It Forward,' 'What Women Want,' 'Cast Away'

For someone who appeared in four films this year, Helen Hunt started the year off slowly. In fact, it wasn’t until October that her first movie was released, the comedy “Dr. T and the Women.” She quickly followed that with the emotional drama “Pay It Forward,” and then came her December double whammy, “What Women Want” and “Cast Away.”

“It’s easy to say, ‘She made four movies!'” says Hunt. “But the truth is, two were small parts, really, and one was a medium-sized part, in ‘What Women Want,’ and then there was ‘Pay It Forward,’ which was the big, huge, enormous bear of a job.”

Playing in two romantic comedies and two serious dramas in a single year might have been too much for some actresses, but for Hunt, who won the best actress Academy Award in 1988 for “As Good As It Gets,” it was the right level of challenge.

“I don’t think I did too much,” she says. “I felt like I was blessed with four completely different parts. Some of them were the heroes of the movies that they were in, and that gives you one opportunity; some weren’t, and that was a whole other kind of opportunity. But I approached them all the same way. For me, every part you play is a combination of what you do externally and how you sort of shift your center of gravity internally and emotionally.”

Hunt does admit, though, that there was one performance out of the four that truly makes her satisfied.

“I look at ‘Pay It Forward,’ of all the movies, and feel like whatever happened, I felt proud of the work. I know that on that film the bar felt very high to me and I felt like I took my very best swing at the ball.”

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