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[[image - color photograph of Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt]] [[caption]]Golden Girl: Hunt (left) with Jack Nicholson in her Oscar-winning role in As Good As It Gets]] and (below) with co-star Paul Reiser and Ellen Degeneres in the season finale of "Mad About You," a show that has brought her two Emmy Awards as Best Actress in a Comedy Series.[[/caption]] PHOTO BY RALPH NELSON, COURTESY OF TRISTAR PICTURES [[image - color photograph of Ellen DeGeneres, Paul Reiser, and Helen Hunt]] [[caption]]co-star Paul Reiser and Ellen Degeneres in the season finale of "Mad About You," a show that has brought her two Emmy Awards as Best Actress in a Comedy Series.[[/caption]] NBC PHOTO BY ALICE S. HALL ing Jo Harding in Twister and the wisecracking waitress Carol Connelly, her Oscar-winning role opposite Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. But what many of her fans do not realize is that she is devoted to Shakespeare. And as she smoothes back her honey-colored hair and talks passionately about her favorite playwright, her direct, down-to-earth and deeply intelligent voice makes it clear that behind the popular and successful film and television star is a serious, strongly committed actress. This is not the first summer Hunt has spent doing Shakespeare in New York. In 1990, before "Mad About You" and way before Twister and As Good As It Gets, she appeared with Tracy Ullman and Morgan Freeman at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in a Wild West version of The Taming of the Shrew. Hunt played Bianca, sister to Ullman's shrewish Katherine. Two years ago in New York, Hunt took part in a two-day workshop with Cicely Berry, voice director of the Royal Shakespare Company, that included eight RSC actors and 13 Americans, among them Cherry Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Blythe Danner, Robert Sean Leonard and Claire Danes. And this spring, during rehearsals for Twelfth Night, she spent Sundays, her day off, in a workshop with John Barton of the RSC's "Playing Shakespeare" television series. "With Cicely we explored the way she works with Shakespeare's text, the way she puts it into your body, the way the sound of the words and the meter can feed rather than constrict the performer," Hunt says. "And doing a workshop with John Barton is a dream come true. I watched his television series, and it was a real bridge for me from what I knew about acting Shakespeare to what I wanted to be. He seems committed to finding a way to marry the two Shakespeare traditions - the modern, immediate, emotional, alive sensibility and the traditional approach to the verse and the meter and the text. When I found out there were people in the world doing work like that, I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could." Hunt, who was born in California but grew up in New York, comes from a theatrical family. Her father, Gordon Hunt, an acting teacher and director, has directed many "Mad About You" episodes; her uncle, Peter Hunt, directed the original Tony-winning 1776 and the current Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway. "As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be involved in the theatre," she says. "I went to the theatre two or three times a WWW.PLAYBILL.COM PURE THEATRE ONLINE [[end page]] [[start page]] [[2 page advertisement]] A WOMAN'S POWER. A MAN'S PASSION. [[image - color photograph of the sculpture of Venus]] VICKY TIEL VENUS DE L'AMOUR ©FIVE STAR FRAG. CO. Available Exclusively at BERGDORF GOODMAN NEIMAN MARCUS [[/2 page advertisement]]
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