The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes doesn't 'Miss' a thing
By Donna Freydkin
NEW YORK — Ask many actors, and they'll tell you how driven they are, how they have a short-list of top directors in their sights, a dream project in the works, and a production company where they toil.
Then there's Katie Holmes. Who jokes that to chart out her professional goals, first, she'd need to find a pencil.
"I'm so lazy. I really enjoy acting. It's a hard business and — I don't know. I'm driven by challenges and opportunities,'' says the 35-year-old actress, who stars in the drama "Miss Meadows," opening Friday.
"I take it a little bit all in stride. I'm interested in directing now. I find myself more drawn to that, as something I'd like to go into," she says. "I'm a big reader. Right now, I'm reading Alice Munro's short stories. I just love her. I optioned a book, "All We Had" (a debut novel by Annie Weatherwax). I'm going to direct it and act in it."
She's doing it thanks to her friend Sarah Polley, the lauded director of "Away from Herand Stories We Tell." "She has really inspired me to take a chance," says Holmes.
The same applies to her acting. In "Miss Meadows," Holmes is a teacher who, in her downtime, rights the wrongs of society and who couldn't care less about public opinion. When told by a neighbor that she might wind up an old maid, Miss Meadows chooses to construe that statement as one about housecleaning, not marriage.
"I liked her freedom and tapping down the street and enjoying birds. I'm not one to look at a bird. Maybe now I will be,'' says Holmes.
It took writer/director Karen Leigh Hopkins 14 years to get the film made, and having Holmes come on board was the tipping point. She's found her perfect Miss Meadows, a woman whose exterior has little to do with her inner life.
"Katie does not suffer fools and is not a fool," says Hopkins. "She's delicious and warm. It's what I would teach my kid: You show people who deserve it who you are. The rest can make their own judgments.''
Holmes "treats everyone with great manners and respect,'' Hopkins adds. "I love that she keeps a mystery. It's intriguing. What's important is the work."
And what she wears while doing it. While shooting the film, Holmes learned something that she applied to her life as mom to Suri, 8, from her marriage to Tom Cruise.
"We wanted Miss Meadows to look very pleasing to the children. I heard someone say they dressed for their child because they realized they were part of a memory. It was really moving when I read that. I should do that! Throw out the sweats! I better get this right. I'm part of a memory," says Holmes, clad on this day in super-sexy Michael Kors leather pants.
As for raising her daughter, Holmes takes each day as it comes, and doesn't agonize too much about perfection.