It's the ultimate double Cross. As Kimberly on Melrose Place, Marcia Cross gets to play both halves of TV's campiest duo, a split-personality case so nutty she could raise Sybil's eyebrows. One part compassionate surgeon and lover, one part demonic wannabe killer, Cross is giving Melrose's more-established superbitches, Laura Leighton (Sydney) and Heather Locklear (Amanda), a run for their money.
''In soaps you play the same scene over and over,'' says Cross, whose acting resume includes bits on The Edge of Night and One Life to Live. ''But on Melrose I get to go crazy in one scene and be all sweet and good in the next. It's psycho, but it's interesting.''
Cross, in her early 30s, is something of a career schizo herself. Raised in Marlborough, Mass., she studied Serious Acting at Juilliard, then shuttled between stage work at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre in Massachusetts and her daytime-TV stints in New York. After moving to L.A. in 1988 she lives alone, a few blocks from the real Melrose Place she got parts as Kirstie Alley's sultry sister on an episode of Cheers and James Spader's fiancee in the film Bad Influence.
Having landed her doctor-turned-fruitcake role on Melrose in August 1992, she still finds herself torn between two acting styles. ''I just got a part in Twelfth Night at the Old Globe in San Diego,'' she says. ''It opens a week after we start shooting Melrose in July. I figure I'll have to charter a plane to fly back and forth from the set to the theater.'' Making the mental leap from Shakespeare to Spelling is not always a snap. ''At one point I kept getting these Melrose scripts that were soooo out there, waaaay gone,'' she says. ''I was like, 'There's no way I can play this and not be the worst actress in Hollywood.' But then I decided that it was Kimberly's party and to just play it scene-by-scene. And everybody seems to be having a blast with the character.''
As for that mysterious post-car crash brain operation that apparently crossed Kimberly's wires, the actress insists she's as clueless about the details as the rest of us. ''Nobody has explained it to me,'' she says. ''The truth is, I don't think the writers know what happened yet. That's the cool thing about playing Kimberly. You never know what they'll do to her next.''