Haviland Morris is one of the most recognizable female faces of the 80s and 90s, having starred in both standard and cult classics that showcased her immense talents. While she has refocused her efforts into an extremely successful real estate career, Morris still finds time to act – a blessing for those who have appreciated her work from the start.
Haviland Morris was born in Summit, New Jersey, but found herself growing up in the most unlikely of places – Hong Kong. But Morris found the unfamiliar surrounding to be a great experience. “I loved it,” she exclaimed. “Great community, excellent school, just and incredible city.” Hong Kong likely prepared Morris for the adventure she would undertake in acting – especially with her first major role – Caroline Mulford in the teenage classic “Sixteen Candles”.
“It was so much fun,” Morris said. While Morris and her castmates were unconcerned with how successful the film would be while shooting, Morris credits the producers with knowing where things were headed. “They (the producers) told us it was going to be the ‘America Graffiti’ of the 80s – and I guess that’s why they were the producers.”
Some of Morris’ other roles – “Who’s That Girl” (opposite Madonna) and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (opposite Phoebe Cates) saw her in familiar territory as “the other girl,” a moniker she was happy to have. “For me, it’s always more fun to play ‘the other girl,’” she explained. “I’m just odd enough that I’m really not all that good at playing the straight man. I tend to be unrelentingly dull when I try.”
If one character was anything but dull, it was Morris’ portrayal of Marla in “Gremlins 2”. But don’t ask Haviland Morris what inspired the character. “I have no idea where that ridiculous girl came from,” she stated. “I just read the script and she popped out. So I brought her to the audition with some trepidation and Mike (Finnell) and Joe (Dante) went for her. It was great fun, but they all were. Gremlins was that much sillier because half the time we were reacting to things that weren’t there.”
With “Gremlins 2” being set in New York City, Morris felt right at home – and the talented actress would know about Metropolitan area success, having completed the “Law & Order” trifecta – appearing on all three major versions of the show. “If you call yourself an actor in this town and haven’t made numerous appearances on that syndication..” she joked.
Something Haviland Morris does not joke about is her second career in real estate. “I was looking for the next thing, because I wasn’t acting as much as I used to,” she said. “I got involved with The Actors Fund Work Program, which is an amazing social services organization which focuses on the entertainment industry. I attended a seminar on sideline and second careers and a real estate recruiter spoke and I thought, ‘Well, that’s obvious.’”
Morris used the skills she learned while acting and applied them to her real estate work. While many see similarities between the two mediums, Morris sees things a bit different. “I think that is the conventional wisdom,” she said. People think they are alike because pitching a property is like an audition, but for me, so little of my time is spent pitching properties. I think it’s a fit because they both involve so much human study. Both pursuits involve so much getting inside people’s heads and empathizing with their situations. In acting, you meet characters at very interesting and vulnerable junctures of their lives (otherwise the plays/movies/shows would be really boring) and, likewise, people who are selling and buying homes are at fascinating and often extremely vulnerable moments in their lives, crossroads of all kinds. It’s vastly interesting and extremely dramatic. On a more pragmatic level, it’s a natural fit logistically because it is time flexible, allowing me to keep doing a little acting, too. “
While Haviland Morris finds it difficult to juggle her time between acting and real estate, she by no means has found life boring. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Robert, and their two children and continues to find work in both of her fields. Morris came into show business as a classy, well-spoken young lady and has emerged her own woman – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.