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From Tinseltown to River City for actor

Have you recently passed on the street a brown-haired guy with an easy smile who could easily pass for a university student and done a double take?

You know the face. Can't come up with the name?

That handsome man passing you on the street is actor Loren Dean of Mumford and Apollo 13 fame, currently in our city filming the independent feature War Bride, also starring Oscar winner Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) and Anna Friel (A Midsummer Night's Dream).

Then again, one can be forgiven for not instantly identifying the youthful 30-year-old with the warm brown eyes. Wearing Armani shades, black khakis, runners and a grey-blue T-shirt, Dean easily blends with the masses.

One of those rare talents who contains not a hint of Hollywood attitude, Dean displayed a sense of humour about his talent for remaining anonymous while he explored our malls and Whyte Avenue, which he deemed very cool.

"Perhaps it's a big conspiracy and everyone in Edmonton is in on it. Maybe, just when they've caused enough shame and humiliation, they'll come up to me and pat me on the back and say just kidding," Dean quipped yesterday from the Allarcom Studio set where shooting continues. "Put it this way, I don't stop traffic and that's a good thing."

Dean may be hard to peg, thanks to his diverse screen appearances over the years, including the futuristic Gattaca where he was decked out in a Prada suit, Armani coat and slicked-back hair.

We'll be seeing a lot more of him with August's release of Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys where Dean plays a young NASA astronaut. Of course, he'll be long gone from our streets and back under Los Angeles palm trees by then.

So why did a busy actor who can garner gigs in monster budget projects take a role in an independent project shooting in the film hinterland? Quite simply, he was enamoured with the story as well as with his character Joe, who falls for his best friend's wife.

"I loved the simplicity of the characters and there's a purity about him that I really responded to and I also love the period," said the Los Angeles resident.

"It demands a greater amount of truth with myself than some of the roles I've played," said Dean, who continues to play and compose on the piano, which he's been playing since he was six. "I enjoy films like this more. It calls for more from you, but it's also more rewarding."

While producers wouldn't reveal the budget for the film, slated to hit the big screen later this year or early in 2001, they have managed to garner a cast with impressive chemistry on the set.

"When you see them together, you'd swear it's really happening," said Calgary's Douglas Berquist, a producer in the joint U.K. and Canadian project.

The story revolves around two women who fall in love and marry Canadian servicemen shortly after meeting in London in 1940. The men go off to war and the brides head to Canada to live with the in-laws and find life is far different than they had anticipated. It is a story with a rich historical foothold in Britain and Canada.

"It's not really a movie about war. It's a movie about love. It's a classic love story," explained Alistair MacLean-Clark, a producer from London.

The cast heads to London for filming after work wraps here May 26.

Before the group leaves, chances are Dean, who has a "bit of a shopping addiction," will be cruising our streets. He'd also love to go swimming with the dolphins in West Edmonton Mall. Not only is he charming, an animal lover and fan of shopping, he's also single.

Now we'll see if he gets some attention on the street.

Thursday, May 18, 2000 - By Shelly Decker, Edmonton Sun

The Rebel Behind 'Mumford' Loren Dean may look like a Milquetoast, but watch out Disney

Toronto -- Loren Dean is good-looking in a nondescript way. His blandness has been exaggerated by makeup artists who, in their zeal to prepare him for a TV appearance later in the day, have Pan-Caked over any distinguishable lines on his face.

When Dean starts to talk about starring in Mumford, the new Disney comedy, he sounds as Milquetoast as he looks. He says he's thrilled to be playing the lead -- a therapist with a knack for curing his small-town clientele -- after a series of supporting roles in Enemy of the State, Apollo 13, Gattaca and Say Anything. He recalls how friendly the locals were when Mumford was being shot in Sonoma County. He says that the movie is a departure for Disney, edgier and more like an independent film.

But then, responding to an innocuous question about his background, the 30-year-old actor unexpectedly tells of a teenage rebellion that seems more in the spirit of James Dean than Loren. At 16, he ran away from his comfortable middle-class home in Los Angeles, landing in San Francisco with almost no money.

On his first day, a cable car conductor at the Powell Street turnaround took one look at Dean and said, "You get off this car and you go call your mom. She is worried sick about you."

"He was like a fortune-teller," recalls Dean, who did as he was told -- to the relief of his family, who had no idea of his whereabouts.

Dean got a room in a ``divey motel'' in the Tenderloin and hung out on the streets with a kid from the Bronx. "He was there with his mother, who was like a street vendor, and the feeling I got from what little he told me was that they were kind of like on the run because his father had been killed by the Mob," he says in a mild-mannered tone incongruous with the story.

By now, it's becoming clear why director Lawrence Kasdan -- who has an eye for actors, as he showed in The Big Chill -- cast Dean as Dr. Mumford. Like Dean, the good doctor -- with his homey approach to therapy -- is not what he seems. For starters, there's his name, which, by odd coincidence, also is the name of the town where he comes to practice. As Mumford interacts with the locals, played by Ted Danson, Jane Adams, Jason Lee and Hope Davis, his disturbing and unlikely past is revealed.

Son of a psychologis -- Dean had more to bring to the role than his ability to project a bland exterior. He knows a lot about therapy, having watched while his mother went back to college to become a psychologist when he was in grammar school.

"I would get books from the UCLA library for her, so I definitely was familiar with the lingo. Larry (Kasdan) knew I was familiar enough with it to feel comfortable," Dean says. After running away from home again -- this time to New York, where he wound up studying acting -- Dean thought some therapy might help him understand his rebelliousness. "It was my idea. I'm sure my mom thought I should do it, too. But at that point, we were beyond my listening to that kind of suggestion from her," he says. Dean became fascinated by the workings of the mind, devouring books on psychology. "I would take the reading into sessions and say, "I read this thing and what do you think of this?" I was really on a course to try to learn. I was in my early 20s by then, and I really think the 20s are a tough time."

At least Dean had a positive experience in therapy. Working on Mumford made his co-star Davis realize how dissatisfied she was with her therapist. "He says it's all about my father, but it's not," she complained during a news conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Mumford premiered.

As much as therapy, acting helped Dean discover who he is. He won a Theatre World Award for his first role on the New York stage in Amulets Against the Dragon Forces and went on to star in playwright John Patrick Shanley's Four Dogs and a Bone, a black comedy that pokes fun at the way movies get made.

Dean's experience in Hollywood has been much better than that of the characters in Four Dogs. While the 1991 Billy Bathgate, which was supposed to be his ticket to fame, flopped at the box office, Dean continued to work with some of the best film directors, including Ron Howard, Wim Wenders and Kasdan.

Ready for a lead -- "I feel more confident because of them. I know my craft. I also feel I'm ready for a lead, more than I have been in the past. It's scary to think about carrying a film for the whole run of the shoot. But the idea is scarier than the actual doing of it. Once we started on Mumford, it really became comfortable."

A planned move from New York to Los Angeles is part of his commitment to pursue a movie career full time. Dean, who is single, had thought about returning to the stage or becoming a musician. He's been writing rock music and playing piano since his youth.

"My musical ear helped me with impersonations and accents. My interest in acting came out of taking on characters with completely different accents." Dean made a demo recording recently. But he finds the business side of the music industry "such a turnoff. It's even worse than movies. I'm going to keep on playing with the musicians I've been playing with but not think about doing it professionally. My energy is going into movies."

Currently, Dean is in the middle of shooting Space Cowboys with Clint Eastwood as an aging astronaut who was denied a slot on the first manned space mission. When the space program comes to him for help with a satellite, he agrees to assist only if he is allowed to go into space. Dean plays one of the astronauts who goes up with him.

It's too soon to tell whether Mumford will result in more leading roles. But whatever happens, Dean says he has no plans to run.

"I have stopped running away. I wouldn't do it now because I'm a little more cautious and because I'm in a work mode. But I'm glad I was that crazy then. It was a great experience. I feel very fortunate that things turned out the way that they did."

Sunday, September 26, 1999 - By Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

This and that

WHO needs Central Casting when you have the Coffee Shop? The Union Square eatery, known for its appealing waitstaff, has paid the rent for many aspiring stars. Hunkalicious Taye Diggs and Jennifer Esposito used to wait tables there. Singer Maxwell was a busboy. Loren Dean, who's in "Space Cowboys" with Clint Eastwood, was an oyster shucker, while "The Young and the Restless" star Shemar Moore made coffee.

May 23, 2000 - By Richard Johnson,

Dear Marilyn: Could you please give me information on handsome actor Loren Dean, star of Mumford? He is one of the best actors in the business, always bringing depth to his characters. Thanks!
Kinsey, Orem, Utah

Dear Kinsey: Dean is not your typical actor. He's made a lot of movies--but has also taken the time to taste a lot of life. Born in Las Vegas but raised in Los Angeles, he moved to New York at age 17 to study drama, earning a Theatre World Award for his N.Y. debut performance in Amulets Against the Dragon Forces.

The young actor made his feature film debut in Martha Coolidge's Plain Clothes and went on to make other films (including 1991's Billy Bathgate, opposite Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman), but after a while decided to move to New Orleans, where he supported himself playing the piano.

In 1992, Robert Redford wanted him for A River Runs Through It, but Dean turned down the director and headed to Europe, where he once again supported himself by tickling the ivories.

Despite having taken so much time "off," the 30-year-old has racked up a lot of film credits, including Enemy of the State and Apollo 13. Look for him next May in Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys opposite Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones.

November 10, 1999 - By Marylin Beck,  E! Online

Mum's the word: The post-gala bash for Mumford at The Courthouse was an apt place for actor Loren Dean -- who plays a phony psychologist attracted to a patient -- to admit his own taboo love.

"I had a crush on my dental hygienist when I was younger," he says. "I usually hated to have my teeth cleaned, but with her, it was like: "When can I come in for my next appointment?"

Dean made girls swoon in How to Make an American Quilt, but his next film, Space Cowboys, directed by Clint Eastwood and co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, is one for the guys.

"It's an astronaut story and a thriller at the same time," he describes. "We go up in space, and things go haywire."

Saturday, September 11, 1999 - by Natasha Stoynoff, Toronto Sun

Loren Dean - one good actor  > Articles