DATELINE NEW YORK

If Teri Hatcher has any faults, it’s a tendency to be “over analytical.”

By that she means she “errs on the side of feeling attacked rather than feeling helped.”

But the 31-year-old actor says maturity is helping her to overcome that habit, and as an example she cites the infamous “Tom Arnold incident” at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this year. Hatcher was a co-presenter with the comedian, standing idly by as he began a series of anti-Roseanne jokes that weren’t well received. He then became flustered and stumbled over every word on the teleprompter.

Hatcher recalls, “I just leaned in and very nicely went, ‘Maybe I should speak.’ The whole audience just roared. So he says back, It’s probably not what you do best.

The star-studded audience gasped. Hatcher ignored the remark and proceeded to smoothly read everything from the teleprompter.

“A lot of people gave me a lot of credit for handling myself well,” she says. Warren Beatty and Annette Bening stopped Hatcher during the commercial break to congratulate her on her aplomb.

Arnold sent flowers and apologized, but Hatcher insists she was never angry. “I looked at it in terms of he’s a comedian trying to have the timing of a comedian,” Hatcher says.

“I said something that got a big laugh. And he jumped in with that comic timing to try to get something back. And he picked the wrong words. That was unfortunate.”

Her distinctly sunny view seems to have helped her career as well. Hatcher says she viewed herself as a success long before she began spending much of her waking hours as Superman’s main squeeze. The star of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, on ABC and CTV, is talking in much more general terms than that of TV stardom or fat paycheques.

Even if she were not an actor, Hatcher says without boastfulness she would be a success. At something.

“And that doesn’t mean money to me,” Hatcher explains, looking every bit the relaxed, moneyed somebody.

Hatcher is sitting in one of the city’s toniest hotels to promote her forthcoming film, Heaven’s Prisoners, which stars Alec Baldwin as an ex-cop whose life is shattered by a crime lord.

“I’m definitely the kind of person who works really hard at whatever. I always picture myself successful. Skilled. And committed to whatever it is I’m doing.”

In terms of her latest role, Hatcher spent hours listening to tapes a voice coach made of Cajun women talking. Her character, Claudette Rocque, is the wife of a New Orleans drug boss played by Eric Roberts.

In the film, she effects a sultry, slightly sinister drawl. In person, however, she has a broad, non-regional accent that probably comes from growing up in San Francisco, a city without discernible speech patterns.

The daughter of a physicist and a computer programmer, Hatcher says her parents initially thought of her acting pursuits as “a fantasy playland thing that I was doing. They thought I was going to grow out of that stage and go back and have some sort of real life.” Namely, in a career that would have used her mathematics major in junior college. Instead, Hatcher dropped out of school at 20 to pursue acting. It’s a decision she credits to the way her parents reared her — she always felt safe and protected throughout her childhood. “I think when you feel that way it allows you to go, ‘Hey, I can do anything. I can try anything.’ Because you have a great confidence and security.”

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