[ HIFF ]

Kelly Preston, center, stars with Hank Azaria and Famke Janssen in "Eulogy."

Kelly Preston juggles
film and family

She stars in "Eulogy," the film
festival's closing presentation

If she had the chance, Kelly Preston would fly back to her home state of Hawaii for tomorrow's screening of her latest film, "Eulogy," at the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival.

It's a nuisance that she needs to board an airplane for that. Too bad she just couldn't go up, up and away like the superhero mom she plays in "Sky High," the Disney studio production that Preston's currently filming, and the reason she can't attend the festival.

The 42-year-old actress, mother of two and wife of John Travolta, has aptly juggled her time between her craft and kids. In the indie comedy "Eulogy," she plays a lesbian, Lucy Collins, who brings her partner (Famke Janssen) to the funeral of her grandfather, where dysfunctions galore are revealed.

Preston is part of a prestigious ensemble cast that includes Ray Romano, Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel, Rip Torn and Debra Winger.

"I usually dance between both worlds," she said by phone from her Los Angeles home. "I love doing both art films and studio films, and I've made a career of it. I've gone from studio films like 'Twins,' 'Jerry Maguire,' 'The Cat in the Hat,' to doing a lot of smaller films, like Alexander Payne's 'Citizen Ruth' and an upcoming film from Billie August called 'Return to Sender' that I did with Connie Nielsen and Aidan Quinn."

For a veteran actress like Preston, it's the script that matters. "'Eulogy' was one of funniest scripts I ever read. The cast that was already assembled was very appealing, and the character that was left for me to play was Lucy. ... The movie is just insane, and people can relate to the different characters. Every family's got somebody who knows how to push the right buttons whenever the ohana gets back together."

"I love doing both art films and studio films, and I've made a career of it," Kelly Preston says.

WHENEVER she and her family have some time to share together, Preston said "we love to go see films. Even though we also get academy screeners, we still like to go sit together in a movie theater and eat popcorn with family and friends. When I'm busy with the kids, it's a real treat for us."

(At one part, she broke out of interview mode to coo at her 3-year-old daughter, Ella, who came by Mommy while she was on the phone. She and Travolta also have an older son, Jett, age 12.)

Preston is obviously proud of the man she first met on a little comedy called "The Experts" back in 1987. John Travolta's next film after the current "Ladder 49" is "Love Song for Bobby Long," an independent coming-of-age drama starring a gray-haired Travolta in the title role and Scarlett Johansson.

As for Preston herself, "it's worked out that for the last couple of months, I've been able to do some work. But I plan to take a few months off and take care of the children."

for now she's having fun making "Sky High," playing Josie Stronghold, a k a Jetstream. "The movie has a lot of special effects. Kurt Russell, myself and the kids play superheroes, where our son goes to a superhero high school in the sky. It's directed by Mike Mitchell, who just did 'Surviving Christmas.' It's a funny, tongue-in-cheek comedy.

"We have to do just another week of shooting ... in a warehouse with rigging. I admit I had to get in a little bit better shape and strength. Even though there's a stuntwoman to do more of the difficult stuff, like rocketing from the ground, I did a lot of my own stunts.

"Kurt and I play Realtors by day and superheroes to fight crime whenever it's necessary.

"And there is a villain, called Royal Pain, but it's a secret as to who's playing him."

Preston also recently completed her first TV sitcom role -- a biggie. "I did two back-to-back episodes of 'Joey,' where I play his dream girl. It's going to air on Nov. 4 and 11. I'd never done a sitcom before, so it was a completely new acting experience for me. It's a little crazy, the format, where scripts radically change day by day, and you really have to work it in front of a huge audience. The show shoots in the same studio as 'Friends' did, and Matt LeBlanc was so terrific to work with."

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