If you think Boston and Hollywood are a world apart, meet [Elisabeth Shue]. She thinks so, too -- and she knows. Shue, 27, has too much taste to throw words like "bicoastal" around in conversation. But for the last 10 years, she's shuttled back and forth between college here and an acting career in you-know-where. Starting Friday, moviegoers will see her in "Soapdish," the comedy about the soap-opera lives of soap-opera stars played by Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Whoopi Goldberg and Shue -- who starts out as a homeless deaf-mute character on the show in the film. Later this year, Harvard University will see her. Shue, needing to complete only one more semester there, swears she'll get her degree in political science next year. "It's probably out of guilt that I call myself a continuing student," she says. "I've been in college for the last 10 years."
If Shue takes politics personally, it's partly because she and three brothers grew up with politics in South Orange, N.J. Her father, James Shue, a lawyer, ran for Congress as a liberal Republican in 1970. He lost. More recently, he went local, switching to the Democratic party and running for councilman. Shue remembers campaigning as a child of 5. "We drove around in parades and met people in Bingo games. We've always just grown up with this sense of idealism about politics. When my fahter ran, he was against the Vietnam War, and Nixon was coming through, and my father got a call from the Republican Party and they said, `It's a great photo opportunity,' and my father said, `Well, if Nixon will spend 15 minutes to come to Newark and see how much despair's in the city, then I'll come and take a picture with him.' Well, Nixon obviously wasn't going to do that. So the next day in the paper, we read, `Shue snubs Nixon.' He had a lot of problems with the Republican Party."