Derek de Lint's flight bonus plan is looking real hefty these days With all the commuting he's doing between L.A. and Amsterdam, he literally is a flying Dutchman. He's also a happy Dutchman After 14 years of acting-theater as well as in 15 films-he's coming into his own internationally. His name doesn't make L.A producers jump for joy, yet, or hearts throb on this side of the Atlantic, yet, but his clean-cut good looks, his strong stage and film presence, his green-into-brown eyes, and his irresistibly charming smile make a face that's not easily forgotten. And by year's end, American audiences will have seen him in at least three movies: Last spring The Assault, a Dutch film in which he starred, captured the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for best foreign film In June his first feature film, Soldier of Orange, was aired on prime-time TV, and this November, the much-talked- about Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff director) film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, will open with de Lint in the lead. And his recently completed film with Charlotte Rampling, Mascara, and another film, Diary of a Mad Old Man. will be released here Not bad for a tella who just decided a year ago that it was time to make a name for himself in American films. De Lint is part of a growing number of young, bona-fide European stars who, tempted by I'Amerique, dare to leave the comforts of stardom at home in order to capture the elusive golden apple In Hollywood Gerard Depardieu, Chris-lophe Lambert, Rutger Hauer, and Klaus-Mana Brandauer represent an Eighties version of the handsome, debonair foreigner of the David Niven or Marcello Mastroianni sort who was able to penetrate the closed American audience which, in general, has had a history of rejecting anything "foreign" in movies. This new crop is older than our own Eighties brat pack-Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, and Matt Dillon-and just i different enough from our older stars-Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Redford-to fascinate and intrigue, De Lint, who was 37 last July, is confident enough in his talent to risk starting all over in the U.S.
Starting over hardly means the bottom for him, not when you consider his experience and the leading ladies he's been competing for. Sigourney Weaver, for instance. He lost the role opposite her in the film about ethnologist Dianne Fossey, but he was smiling when he talked about It: "I could have spent three months in the jungle with Sigourney," he muses, "but it probably happened for a good reason. I'm sure I would have gotten bitten by a mosquito and caught malaria." Under the circumstances, that's a positive attitude, and that's the one de Lint intends to keep while he works his way into the big time, American style.
Derek de Lint's resume looks like a computer went haywire, merging his file with a few others. Let's start with his languages, all five of them-Yugoslav, German, French, English, and, of course, Dutch. With a laugh, he explains, "In a country the size of Holland [about half the size of Maine], you have to learn a lot of languages because If you go 15 miles east, you have to speak German, if you go 70 miles south, you have to speak French, and if you go 10 miles west, you have to swim. If you go 100 miles north, you have to speak Danish. I wish I were fluent in more languages so that I could work in more countries."
He dabbled in a few areas "before deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up." On his way to stardom, he's been a farmer, a stand-up comic, a painter, a play producer, raised peacocks, and still is an ardent amateur photographer. The second son in a family of two kids, de Lint says that- unlike his brother, who was the solid type and went on to become a specialist in orthopedic surgery-he simply couldn't concentrate. "I'm not that kind of a guy. It was difficult for me to really get my teeth into any one subject. By the time I finished school, I still didn't know what to do. I thought about moving to Australia, just to get as far away from Holland as possible." His parents, panicked at the idea that he might become an Australian beach bum and never come home, convinced him to try art school. This time it was his professors who advised him to change. "After two years they told me, 'Every time you $tart a project, it always has a sideline or some connection with the theater. Why don't you go back to Amsterdam and go to the theater school?' So I did." Eventually he spent his summers in New York City auditing acting classes at HB Studio. The bug had bitten, and he finally knew what he wanted to do with his life.
It was in January of this year that de Lint began investing his time and energy into going after the "big fish," the American market. That meant going outside Holland, sacrificing film and TV work there, organizing an international team of agents, a manager-and working strenuously on his English, And just to set the record straight, he adds, "More important than all of this is surrounding myself with good friends who will be honest enough to tell me when I'm good and when I'm full of it, too. It's very humbling to have the queen of your country come to the opening of your film, then the next day to go to the United States, where nobody recognizes you. I have to keep a great sense of humor and never take myself too seriously."
Maybe he doesn't take himself too seriously, but there's no joking around when he contemplates uprooting his wife and his two sons, leaving behind good friends and a farm that he loves, to move to Hollywood. And at this stage of the game, he knows exactly what he's looking for, explaining, "There's still lots of opportunity in America, and there's an enormous amount of respect for foreign actors here. That's why Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven, other Dutchmen who had already made it in films in Holland, came."
Whether he moves or keeps on logging the flight hours, Derek de Lint says he'll never forget his past: "I will always be a Dutchman. My children go to a Dutch school, I pay Dutch taxes, I was born and raised in the Hague. The Dutch public loved me and made me a star in Holland. I simply want to work all over the world, in all languages, but I'll always be a Dutchman."
---By Ruth Gardner
©All Right Reserved.