Wesley Snipes star of "One Night Stand." -- Chris Wahl, Sun

Toronto Film Festival 97

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Sunday, September 14, 1997

More than just a pretty face

By LIZ BRAUN -- Toronto Sun

 Okay, Wesley Snipes: Tall, dark, handsome. Might as well start with the obvious stuff.
 If your Snipes movie experiences run to such fare as Money Train, Passenger 57 or White Men Can't Jump, expect a pleasant surprise when you see him in One Night Stand.
 The new drama about personal change and fidelity was shown at the Toronto film fest, and it's the project that brought Snipes here yesterday on a promotional visit. His role has already won him the Best Actor nod at the Venice film fest.
 In One Night Stand, a Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) film, Snipes plays a man at a turning point in his life. He's married, he's a father of two, his business is going well. On the surface, everything is just fine.
 Then, by chance, he meets a woman (Nastassja Kinski) to whom he is attracted. Things change.
 Snipes' character is gentle, funny, intellectual and vaguely vulnerable, and that's not unlike the actor in real life. He says he shares his One Night Stand character's capacity for friendship and his esthetic sense and artistic integrity. And he says that modestly.
 "And I identify with his feeling that, `I've done this, I've done that -- now what am I going to do in my life?'
 "You get caught between what's best for everybody else, or for society or for the public, and what's best for you."
 The movie is about, among other things, marriage. Snipes, who is divorced, says, "I don't understand the mandate of being together forever. The idea that you should do that is wrong. It makes us slaves to a societal mandate.
 "You can still love, but it doesn't mean you have to be tethered to the flesh." Wow.
 So would he get married again?
 "Sure!" enthuses Snipes, and he laughs.
 The actor has a son, aged eight -- "He just came to see me in Chicago and I fell in love with him all over again" -- and having more children tops his wish list for the future.
 Also on that list are success for his company and a slower work schedule.
 "And I want to build a school. That would be my crowning achievement." The school would be an arts oriented establishment where kids might be tutored in certain life skills, too.
 He offers an example. Let's say, begins Snipes, that all your formative years people urge you to do your best. "Moms always say that," he points out. " `Do your best! Even if you're a garbageman! Always do the best job you can!'
 "So -- what if you do become successful? Then what? Who is going to advise you? What if there's no one in your family or your background you can turn to?" he asks. "How do you handle that?"
 In his case, with grace, apparently.

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