19 December 1998 (Calgary Sun)
NEW YORK -- Monica Potter is positively glowing these days.
Three years ago, the 27-year-old model from Cleveland got her first movie role playing Nicolas Cage's girlfriend in The Rock.
In quick succession, Potter was cast opposite Billy Crudup in Without Limits, the story of doomed Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, and then as an American girl in London who becomes the love object of three friends in Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence.
On Dec. 25, she stars opposite Robin Williams in Patch Adams.
"I'm feeling so good about my life these days. I feel like a giddy 18-year-old and it's more personal than career related," says Potter.
"I'm finally going to be able to repay my parents for allowing me to pursue my dreams. None of this would be possible without their support and belief in me."
Potter's father is an inventor who still putters about in the basement of their home.
Her mother has worked as secretary at a hospital to help support the family through its hardest times.
"Dad invented things like unique spins on coin banks, chair cushions and cookware.
"His most successful invention is that car wax that is flame resistant that's advertised on TV all the time.
"Because my dad is salaried and doesn't own any of the patents, the company made all the money."
It was Potter's father who sent her picture to a modelling agency when she was 12 and who would drive her to her auditions.
After graduating from high school, she went to work for an agency in Chicago and then accepted a job in Miami.
On the advice of a talent scout, Potter went to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
"It took me more than a year to get an acting job when I came to Los Angeles. I was down to my last 39 cents. I wanted to admit defeat but my dad wouldn't let me. Instead, he sent me $100 a week when he could barely afford to," she recalls. "It was his belief in me that gave me the confidence to keep auditioning. It was pretty demoralizing at first."
Potter says that though she plays Williams' love interest in Patch Adams, off camera he was more like the brother she'd never had.
"Robin was very caring and protective of me. He knows I'm just starting out and he was always there with advice."
Potter also saw the wacky side of Williams.
"When he gets into full comic mode, Robin really is from another planet. He's so absolutely free-form when he's acting.
"You really have to be on your toes because you've no idea what he's going to say or do when the cameras start rolling."
Potter was amazed at how Williams is able to communicate with children. For one of the most touching scenes in Patch Adams, he was required to entertain a ward filled with young cancer patients.
"Most of the children in these sequences are very ill. After half an hour with Robin, they were laughing so much, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"Before our very eyes, Robin was working the same magic that Patch Adams did in the hospitals where he worked."