Dave Karger
February 09, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Truth be told, the imminent action thriller Broken Arrow marks Howie Long’s feature film reacting debut. Hopping to villain John Travolta’s orders, the former L.A. Raider and current Fox NFL Sunday commentator carries more heavy equipment than dialogue-heavy scenes in the nuclear caper, also from Fox, due in theaters Feb. 9. Yet strong early word on Long’s performance as Kelly, burly henchman to Travolta’s Vic Deakins, has led to a three-picture deal with — whaddya know? — 20th Century Fox.

While his Arrow role plays against personal loquaciousness — Kelly’s signature bark is ”Deak, you da man!” — Long, who’s 6’5” and 275 lbs., hopes future projects will prove that an All-Pro defensive end can do more than tackle a dummy role. In March he’ll shoot a cameo in Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do. ”You’ll get a kick out of it,” he promises, declining to say more than that he plays ”a mysterious business associate.”

Long, 36, is weighing possible projects for his Fox deal’s kickoff film, in which he’ll either star or play a supporting role. He will be paid ”significantly less than what Sylvester Stallone makes,” he reports, ”and just a shade above… I don’t know, who’s the bottom rung?” In the meantime, he’s already trying actor-speak on for size: ”Something that sounds very appealing to me is trying to get into what your character’s motives are,” he says. With Broken Arrow, though, Long’s job was more like memorizing an old foe’s pass patterns: ”You pretend to be someone else. What’s the big deal?” Yours, Howie.

Dave Karger

Sense and Sensibility‘s dashing Greg Wise may be getting some extra attention because of his continuing role in Emma Thompson’s life, but for privacy’s sake he’s not returning the favor. When asked if he’s involved with anyone, Wise, 29, answers ”No.” And it takes prodding even for him to talk of Thompson as the film’s writer and star. On her performance: ”She’s, uh, very, very good.” On their working relationship: ”She’s wonderful,” he says, ”very open, very giving, very honest,” then amends himself lest he sound too impassioned. ”Perhaps clarity is the better word. She’s always very clear.”

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