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My wife thought I was gay; Kevin Kline had to play it straight on his first date.

Hollywood star Kevin Kline's attempt to woo his wife ended almost before it began.

His move to get Phoebe Cates to go out with him was a flop.

For the actress was sure handsome Kevin was actually GAY.

Fortunately for Kevin, Phoebe was quickly convinced that he was straight. The couple have been happily married for almost nine years.

Ironically, his latest starring role is as a drama teacher, outed by his most famous pupil in his Oscar acceptance speech in the movie In & Out.

Kevin said: "Before I met Phoebe, she'd seen me in Sophie's Choice. And when we first started dating, she said `you know, I'd sort of assumed you were gay'.

"I said `oh really. Why?' And she said `well, you come from the theatre, you seemed so clean - and you really used your hands a lot on that movie.

"I don't think I use my hands that much. At least, no more than most Italian men.

"But, funnily enough, one of the reasons why people suspect my character Howard is gay is because he uses his hands a lot, too."

Kevin met Gremlins star Phoebe when they were both working on plays in the same theatre. He was so smitten he hired her former PA and told her one of her first jobs was to get him a date with Phoebe.

They tied the knot three weeks before Kevin won his Oscar for his hilarious performance in A Fish Called Wanda. The couple now have two children, Owen, five, and three-year-old Greta.

In & Out is loosely based on Tom Hanks' Academy Award speech when he won an Oscar as a gay lawyer with Aids in Philadelphia.

Kevin missed the famous speech because his daughter was born that night.

He said: "But, of course, I heard about it once the papers got hold of it and sensationalised it as `Tom outs teacher'.

"Tom didn't really out his teacher. In fact, he rang him up beforehand and said `if I win, I'd like to mention you and the fact that you're gay and to say how inspiring gay teachers can be'.

"That's quite an issue in the States. There are some puritanical, nervous, ignorant people who think gay teachers will somehow turn their pupils gay with gay vibes.

"Our writer, Paul Rudnick, took the idea and made it `wouldn't it be funny if he was outed three nights before his wedding'."

IN & Out is the latest in a string of gay-themed hits, including My Best Friend's Wedding and Birdcage.

But some critics have suggested these films round up all the old stereotypes of gay people.

Kevin disagrees: "The fact that the writer of In & Out was gay and the producer was gay meant I wasn't worried that gay people might take offence.

"The film pokes fun at everyone. And I enjoy offending people - that's why I continue to work with John Cleese."

The coming-out comedy shows Howard under pressure from friends, pupils and his outraged fiancee.

Worse, the nation's press then descends on the town, including Tom Selleck as a gay newsman determined to get Howard to confess.

This film does more than pay lip service to gay issues - it features a dramatic kiss between Kevin and co-star Tom.

Tom Selleck has successfully sued an American paper in the past for claiming he is actually gay himself. But Kevin says deciding to film the scene was no big deal.

He said: "I've kissed men before on stage, though not on film. You have to go for it whole-heartedly."

And it was business as usual when it came to preparing himself for his screen snog - man or no man.

He said: "You don't just kiss once, you have to kiss over and over and over. You can have a woman with a bleeding chin after 10 minutes.

"So it's good to shave as close as you can. It's also nice to brush your teeth. Even so, by about five or six in the evening, our stubbles were battling it out.

"Obviously it's more courageous for Tom Selleck to do the role than me. He's got such a macho image, but he was wonderful."

The movie was originally due to star Steve Martin and included a dance sequence to show off the comic's happy feet with a home- alone disco dance.

Kevin decided to use the chance to strut his stuff on screen in a manic disco number.

He said: "It was spontaneous, but a choreographer showed me a few popular moves in gay discos to bring me up to date."

Kevin swaps comedy for tragedy with the first of his two new films this month. The Ice Storm is a dark drama of two wife-swapping families who get caught up in sex, secrets and lies.

He said: "My agent called and said `there's this script and it's the most harrowing domestic downer'. So I said `oh good, send it along'."

Kevin plays Ben, the feckless faithless husband torn between responsibility and his affair with next-door neighbour Sigourney Weaver in the early 70s.

Insiders predict his performance could earn him his next Oscar.

Hollywood's nickname for the man so choosy about his roles is Kevin "de-Kline", but the man himself says he'll play just about any part.

He said: "I tend to choose roles where I get to sit down in chairs a lot. But I'll be changing that.

"I am doing an action movie next with Will Smith called Wild West. It's a fantasy adventure western. There's something for everyone."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Synnot, Siobhan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 6, 1998
Previous Article:Sigourney swings into 70s.

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