There are some actresses, believe it or not, who insist they are just plain folks, and, of course, they're wrong.
Take Madonna and Cher. How often are those style-setting sex symbols spotted hanging out on Main Street?Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, though dedicated actresses who confine their flamboyance to the screen and lead relatively private off-screen lives, are hardly your average suburban housewives.
And, how typical of American womanhood are Roseanne Barr and Joan Rivers? Ever seen an Avon lady who could pass for Michelle Pfeiffer or Julia Roberts?
The female faces made familiar by films and television may generally reflect the diversity of society in general. But celebrity makes actresses different from, say, the corporate woman in New York, the housewife in Columbus, the boutique operator in Dallas.
Amy Madigan, while an actress, at least looks like the girl next door.
Madigan is the freckle-faced strawberry blonde with a flat, slightly hoarse Southwest-type voice who most often is seen as a waiflike rural wife in dramatic films.
You've seen her in "Places in the Heart," "Field of Dreams," "Alamo Bay," "Streets of Fire," "Twice in a Lifetime," "Nowhere to Hide" and last year's TV film "Rowe vs. Wade."
She is a professional actress recognized by people who have no trouble identifying her as someone they've seen around the neighborhood or at a PTA meeting.
Amy is the grownup "girl next door," the woman who looks like everyone's friend and neighbor, not the highly regarded, highly paid actress she is.
This identity suits Madigan just fine. She is the wife of actor Ed Harris ("The Right Stuff"), who also keeps a low profile.
If supermarket tabloids relied on this couple for scandal, they'd be in Chapter 11 tomorrow.
Madigan took time out for a glass of restaurant iced tea the other afternoon. She was self-conscious about being interviewed but anxious to help promote her latest project, "Lucky Day," an ABC-TV movie with Olympia Dukakis and Chloe Webb, to be broadcast March 11.
She had tackled the TV film after completing a new movie, "The Dark Half," with Timothy Hutton.
Madigan's arm was in a sling, the result of a painful spill. She was dressed in sweatshirt and pants. Her hair was a bit raggedy, her smile sincere. Madigan is easy to like.
"It doesn't make any difference to me whether I'm doing a TV movie or a theatrical movie," she said. "If the subject matter interests me and the other actors are good, I'll go for it.
"Last year I worked six months on stage at the Los Angeles Theater Center. Right now I'm unemployed and taking a vacation.
"But, not really, because I'm working with 16 other people to establish a new theater group . . . with my husband, Holly Hunter, Alfre Woodard and some other great people. It's an exciting Actors Equity-waiver theater project limited to six-week runs and 99 seats.
"There are writers, directors and producers involved, too. We all come from the theater and we all like working on stage projects."