By Dan Jewel and Anne-Marie Otey
When Neve Campbell was 17, she won her first TV role, as a member of a band on the Canadian drama Catwalk. Campbell's character started out sweet and demure, but, she says, the writers soon changed her into a sex symbol sleeping with everyone in the band. "All my fan mail," Campbell recalls with a laugh, "was from prisoners." These days, Campbell, 22, has a new fan base: teenage girls.
On Fox's Party of Five she plays insecure Julia Salinger, and every week, she says, women write to "say they're going through the same things".
Campbell also plays an insecure teen in The Craft--but with a difference. In the dark comedy, she's a witch who, says Campbell, "puts spells on people who hurt her."
Offscreen, life has been considerably more complicated for the Toronto-born actress. When she came to L.A. to be in Party in 1994, her boyfriend of five years, mid 20's Canadian actor Jeff Colt, wanted to join her--but couldn't stay without a green card. So, in April 1995, Campbell and Colt--who share an L.A. apartment--got hitched.
But a two-career marriage has required some adjustment. Put simply, her career is in orbit, while his is just lifting off. "People call me Mr. Campbell," says Colt, who also admits being troubled by his wife's love scenes with Party boyfriend Justin (Michael Goorjian). He only worries, he jokes, "when she calls out 'Justin' in the middle of the night."
Campbell is realistic about marriage. "If we grow apart," she says, "that's a circumstance we'll deal with." That attitude may come from watching her family. Her mother, Marnie Neve, a psychologist, and father, Gerry Campbell, a drama teacher, divorced when Campbell was a baby and seldom speak.
Even so, Neve (pronounced Nev) and her brother, Christian, 24, learned a love of theater from their parents, "My father took me to see The Nutcracker when I was 6," she recalls. Becoming a ballet dancer "became my dream". Campbell studied dance at Toronto's National Ballet School from the age of 9, but eventually, she says, she found the competitive atmosphere "overwhelming" and, at 15. she quit for an alternative high school. That year she won a role in Phantom of the Opera.
After her stint on Catwalk, she left school and headed to L.A., where she beat 300 actresses for Party. Says Amy Lippman, the executive producer, “There’s nothing we've thrown her way that she hasn't been able to handle."
Including a busy schedule. After wrapping the horror parody Scream last month, it was back to Party for another season. "I'm tired," Campbell says. "But it’s necessary to get my face out there." Colt has another explanation. "She's able to do everything," he says, "so she wants to do it all."