Stars go mad on the big screen -- Psychos are the new hot role in movies, with stars like Nicole Kidman and John Travolta playing crazy

By EW Staff
Updated October 06, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tom Hanks, you’d better sit down. Nice guys are out. The operative word for leading actors these days is psycho. ”Years ago, nobody wanted to play the nutcase,” says Treat Williams, who takes on just such a role in Miramax’s Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. ”It would hurt your image as a leading man. Then Anthony Hopkins [in The Silence of the Lambs] proved that there is such a deliciousness in playing truly evil.” Not to mention Oscars to be won. Herewith, a filmgoers’ guide to the new batch of nuts:

STAR TURN: Balladeer Harry Connick Jr. as Daryll Lee, a serial killer who works in the style of his murderous heroes in Copycat.
WHY A PSYCHO? Because it’s not a stretch? ”There is nothing more disarming than a rotted smile and a hollow laugh,” says Connick. ”Fortunately, both were easily attainable.”

STAR TURN: Treat Williams as Critical Bill, an overenthusiastic undertaker in Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.
WHY A PSYCHO? Call it character attraction. ”Audiences can’t help but be drawn into Bill,” says Williams. ”When somebody loves what they do — whether it’s killing or flying airplanes — it draws you in. Bill just loves bodies.”

STAR TURN: Nicole Kidman is Suzanne Stone, a killer TV weatherwoman in the just-released To Die For.
WHY A PSYCHO? The sheer thrill of it. ”It was a chance to go completely wild and crazy,” says Kidman. ”Bad girls do have more fun.”

STAR TURN: Brad Pitt as Jeffrey Goines, the unstable, pet-loving son of a respected scientist known for conducting experiments on animals in 12 Monkeys.
WHY A PSYCHO? For a change of pace. The Seven star has no comment, but his Monkey costar Bruce Willis insists, ”This is Brad as we’ve never seen him before.”

STAR TURN: John Travolta as Vic Deakins, a pilot who shoplifts a nuclear warhead in Broken Arrow.
WHY A PSYCHO? For the challenge. ”In Carrie I played a bad guy. In Pulp I played a psychotic. But this is a different level of psychotic,” says Travolta. ”He’s very elegant and very sophisticated on a certain military level, but nuts.”

STAR TURN: Jade’s Linda Fiorentino is a female assassin who works for the government in Killer’s Kiss, which begins filming next year.
WHY A PSYCHO? It was an accident. ”After Last Seduction, I didn’t want to play evil again,” says Fiorentino. ”I guess you should never say never.”