DOMINIQUE SWAIN
The Pretty Pumpkin Co-Star Says
Goodbye to Sex Kitten Roles

BY HEATHER WADOWSKI

At the age of 14, Dominique Swain shocked audiences with her explosive acting debut in the erotic drama Lolita. Her performance quickly caught the public's attention, earning the newcomer several award nominations, including the Chicago Film Critics' Award for Most Promising Actress. However, even though she appeared in the Nicolas Cage/John Travolta action-thriller Face/Off that same year, after 1997 Swain seemed to disappear from the movie scene altogether.

Although Swain continued to star in several films, among them Happy Campers and New Best Friend, most of her movies only opened in limited release. Even Swain's latest project, the United Artists' comedy Pumpkin, is only opening in Los Angeles and New York. And while Swain knows that she's now carrying the "indie movie star" title wherever she goes, she insists that she's not intentionally keeping herself away from huge Hollywood blockbusters.

"I don't put myself into the indie box," Swain says. "I just happened to love the characters that I was going to play in each of those small-budget movies and kind of planned them all back to back. I think it is really important though to do commercial movies so that you can continue to do what you want to do, and also so that people can see you."

In Pumpkin, Swain plays Jeanine Kryszinsky, an opinionated sorority girl who never stands up for herself for fear of being outcast by her sisters. While picturing the beautiful 5'9'' blonde in the role of a catty sorority girl seems fitting, Jeanine definitely doesn't fit the stereotypical sorority girl image. The role actually takes Swain away from her typical roles, with the 21-year-old actress sporting with an out-of-control,curly brown wig that makes Screech's hair from Saved by the Bell: The New Class look tame by comparison

"I really demanded the Afro," Swain says. "I think that I've been kind of typecast into the sex kitten roles, even though I was trying to avoid them. There were so many times where people would be like, 'we're looking for this troubled teen who's going through a sexual awakening' and I'd be like, 'again? I've been sexually awakened.' I'm just glad to have this role as a kind of departure and proof that I can do something else."

Growing up in Malibu, Swain didn't have to look very far for someone to model her character after. Although Swain has yet to attend college and watch real sorority girls at work, Swain didn't have to look any further than her own high school friends to get a feel for Jeanine.

"I used to know this girl who would take her sweater on and off six times during a car ride because she had boys on either side of her," Swain says with a laugh. "She'd be like, 'Oh, I'm so hot!' and off her sweater would go, revealing this long, luxurious chest. My friends and I would just be in the backseat like, 'what the hell is she doing?’ She also made these little Zip-Loc baggies filled with her cosmetics and would carry them with her–about 50 different products that were just necessary to take for the weekend. I'm shocked every time I see someone like that."

As for what’s next for the former Lolita, Swain can soon be seen in Briar Patch, a drama which lets her play another character that’s "absolutely not a sex kitten role." Although Swain's not sure whether or not Briar Patch will be in wide release, she is also in negotiations to start filming a psychological thriller that she believes "everyone will be able to see." No matter where life takes her, Swain's confident that she'll never stop acting–whether the public knows it or not.

"I'm caught by the bug. No matter what else I decide to do for the rest of my life–whether I decide to direct, produce, act or become a house painter–I'm still gonna be acting whether it's just a hobby or it's what I focus my life around. It's contagious."