Elaine Hendrix, best known for movies such as “The Parent Trap” and “Inspector Gadget 2,” is wrapping up her latest role — but it’s not on the big screen, it’s off-Broadway. She stars in “It’s Just Sex,” about three couples dealing with troubled marriages who swap partners, through Aug. 28. The show will continue running at Actors Temple Theater with tickets on sale through Oct. 30 (www.itsjustsexplay.com).
How did you get involved with ‘It’s Just Sex’?
[L.A. cast member Gina La Piana] was apparently trying to get a hold of me, and I was getting ready to take a little bit of a hiatus. And then she had her going away party, so I went to that and she was like, “Where have you been? I want you to do this play.” And I was like, “Whaaaat?” … About four days later my life was packed up and I was in New York.
Was it strange to take a break from film and TV?
I started my career in theater. I’m a classically trained dancer, so that’s where I got my professional start. And I also had done a lot of plays growing up, and I went to performing art school, so theater is my home. … When I was a kid performing, I never even thought film or TV was an option.
You also did some modeling. Do you think your looks have played a big part in your career?
I play strong women, I tend to play icy women — not all the time, but that’s what I’m best known for. And I definitely think my look has helped in that regard. … I don’t look necessarily like my age, so sometimes I fall between the cracks of sometimes still being too young. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what’s ahead. That I’m just now starting to get some of the mom roles, competing with some of the slightly older women like Marcia Gay Harden that I don’t even know how I ended up in the same conversation with. It’s a wacky business.
Tell us about your character.
I play Lisa. She a very sharp attorney, and unfortunately she doesn’t know how to turn that sharpness off, and she treats her home life very much like her work life. And she’s married, [so] she can pretty much say whatever she wants without any effect. And she’s definitely in a time of her life where she wants to shake things up, and is very open and likes the idea of swapping — but she just doesn’t have a filter, and that can be a big problem.
Are audience members supposed to relate to Lisa?
Jane Doe is going to identify a little bit with each [woman in the show], but I think she’s gonna see herself most in one of them. I have had so many women coming up to me and so sheepishly be like, “I was watching myself and my husband up there with you, and I’m gonna try to be nicer to my husband.” And I’m like, “Yeah, you should go right now and cuddle up with him!”
I see my character being a very modern woman that has got so wrapped up in her career that she has lost sight of balance. And I think that’s something women struggle with constantly, their career life versus their home life — especially if their career life involves being a strong, tough, masculine woman. It’s kind of hard to shrug that off by the end of the day. And then the character can take the home life for granted.
Does the play have a happy ending after the spouse-swapping hijinks take place?
That’s a very good question. I feel like there is a giant ellipsis after this play. We see each story sort of wrapped up, but we have had a lot of discussions and joking about what happens when they get home. And I don’t know. That’s sort of one of the fun things that audience members gets to determine for themselves.