Evers since she was discovered by Twin Peaks director David Lynch in 1984, Alicia Witt has been building an enviable career for herself in Hollywood. The 25 year-old actress has played the precocious teen-age daughter of television’s Cybill, a singing prodigy opposite Richard Dreyfus in Mr. Holland’s Opus, a porn-star in search of Hollywood fame in last summer’s Cecil B. Demented, and most recently in Touchstone Pictures’ Playing Mona Lisa, an aspiring young concert pianist in search of herself. She’s even fired up the screen in every man’s dream role – that of Madonna’s lover in 1995’s Four Rooms. She’s been in the acting game since the age of seven racking up a resume full of diverse credits as well as impressive list of A-list co-stars.
Alicia has been acting most of her life, but she says she has always had other interest as well. “I did a new musical in L.A. last summer called The Gift,” she says. “I got to sing on stage and I really loved that. It was like having a really cool standing date every night. I think I’m going through withdrawal.”
Acting and music aside, the young Hollywood beauty has another significant interest for which she is less well known. She is a true animal lover. “I have always wanted a dog,” she says, “but my mother just didn’t understand how animals and people coexist.” So, six and a half years ago, Alicia took in a cat discovered by a friend wandering alone up and down Rodeo Drive. She named her Jesse and last summer brought home a friend for her favorite feline. Jake, Alicia’s rescue pup, was also found abandoned and alone and the animal-loving actress couldn’t resist. It was the opportunity to prove her mother’s theory wrong.
Jesse and Jake bonded instantly according to Alicia, and are a happy addition to her Los Angeles home. “At this point, I’d have a whole house full of pets if I could,” she says. The duo sleep and play together and spend a good deal of time in her bed. “They’re there even when I’m not,” says Alicia.
Having pets has taught her a lot, she admits; not the least of which is the importance of picking after herself. Jake’s still in the puppy stages,” she explains. “Anything in his path is potential chew fodder, so I’ve learned that I can’t throw my clothes on the floor.”
What else has she learned from joining the pet-loving set of Hollywood’s top actors? Alicia has found more than a few fellow animal devotees among the ranks of television and film stars. “I did a couple of episode of Ally McBeal,” says Alicia, “and it’s such a pet friendly environment. The make-up trailer is full of dogs. Calista (Flockhart) has a beautiful 10 year-old dog that she brings to the set.”
Alcia’s co-star in last year’s Cecil B. Demented, Melanie Griffith, also turned out to be an animal lover. Griffith’s cat had sadly wandered off in L.A. while the star was shooting the film, and never returned. “They suspected it had been by coyotes,” says Alicia of Griffith’s beloved pet,” and I was wishing I could have magically replaced the cat for her. Melanie was very upset about it. She didn’t know how to break the news to her three year-old daughter.”
Alicia’s apparent soft spot for the fury variety expresses itself not only in compassion for lost animals, but in her own form of activism as well. When the assistant producer on the set of Playing Mona Lisa had adopted a dog from a Van Nuys rescue organization called Pet Orphans, Alicia immediately got involved. “I was never very impressed by how conscienscious they are,” says Alicia of Pet Orphans. “They really care about these animals.” It didn’t take long before Alicia became a volunteer dog walker.” I wanted to help out,” she says.
What’s helped Alicia out a lot is a Best Actress award at the 2000 U.S. Comedy Art Festival for her role as Claire in Cecil. She’s not sure what lays ahead or what roles she’ll pursue newt, but she seems confident that the right part will come her way.
In the meantime, Alicia hasn’t even confirmed her plans for the holidays yet. “That’s too far in advance for me to plan,” she says. She is already thinking of the decorations at home, however. “In pas years, Jesse has had a fantastic time with the Christmas tree, chewing on branches and knocking of ornaments,” she says. “It will be an adventure this year with Jake.” He’ll be doing something else to that tree.