A top Hollywood producer and his philanthropist wife discover solace and sophistication in Sherman Oaks.
Written byPauline Adamek
It’s no surprise that the Sherman Oaks home of Grant and Lysa Heslov reeks with elegance, creativity and good taste. He is an Oscar-winning writer and producer; she is also a pedigreed filmmaker and the founder of an innovative children’s charity. They discovered the property, tucked in a charming neighborhood south of the Boulevard, while living in Studio City in 2009. Needing bigger digs, the couple contemplated remodeling.
“My kids (Olivia and Maya) were younger, and they were just not great with change. And so you’re like, ‘Okay, what do we do?’” remembers Lysa.
Rather than renovate, the Heslovs went house hunting. “We both just have such crazy lives, so we were happy when we found this place we could just move into.” Wearing loose-fitting red track pants, a T-shirt and no makeup, the Georgia native looks every bit as unfussy and relaxed as the home she has created.
Although the house was appealingly turnkey, they’ve reworked many aspects, including remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms. Cream and white tones with accents of red and dark, mostly reclaimed wood, abound here. The main living area, adjacent to the bright Carrera marble kitchen, has a huge, custom-made Holly Hunt sectional sofa that’s perfect for lounging, with a large square ottoman in lieu of a coffee table.
The delightful, 6,000-square-foot home has an open floor plan and great flow, with large rooms including a gym and movie screening room. With the main structure relatively close to the curb, the backyard is deceptively vast.
Grant and Lysa’s ground-floor master bedroom and the family room both wrap around a substantial back porch of brick. Beyond the grassy expanse is another dining area, sheltered by a trellised pergola. Beyond that is the tranquil swimming pool, flanked by citrus and apple trees and a sizable, year-round vegetable garden with raised boxes, accented by flowering marigolds and borage.
“We’re a big, rowdy family. We wanted a place for the kids to play. And I tend to just collect animals all over the place,” she admits with a rueful grin. Four contented rescue pooches quietly trot about the property.
“This street is really beautiful, and it feels like a neighborhood to me,” she continues. The fact that Ventura Boulevard, with its shops and restaurants, is a short walk away was also a plus. “The Valley is the coolest place in the world to live. I’m so comfortable here.”
In particular the couple loves La Cava (an intimate “cucina Italiana”) and the sushi spot Asanebo. “We’re at Asanebo once a week usually. When we want a ‘belly bomb’ and are craving a burger, The Counter’s good,” she laughs.
Grant and Lysa, who met at a political fundraising party, have been married for 15 years. You might remember Grant Heslov in 1994’s action comedy movie True Lies, playing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s covert ops assistant Faisal.
The young actor became friends with George Clooney during the ‘80s. In what is now a well-known story, Grant even loaned the struggling actor $100 to get some head shots. The pair remained friends, working together on George’s Good Night, and Good Luck in 2006.
Around that time George’s production partnership with director Steven Soder-bergh concluded, and he and Grant started their own production company, Smokehouse Pictures. Among their feature film credits: Argo, which won an Oscar for best picture and more recently, August: Osage County and The Monuments Men.
The coveted golden statue for Argo resides in Grant’s home office. He recalls, “That was really exciting. It’s really fun to win. Anybody tells you it’s not, they’re lying!”
Lysa, meantime, is focusing most of her efforts on her charity, Children Mending Hearts, an LA-based after-school program she started last year that is aimed at empowering disadvantaged kids.
After visiting Darfur and Congo, Lysa was struck by how children who struggled in war-torn countries faced similar battles as underprivileged children in the States. She wanted to find a way to empower children everywhere and teach them how to become empathetic global citizens through art, creativity and connectivity.
“A gang member and a boy soldier have a lot in common. So do a girl here who’s sold into sex trafficking and a girl in Congo who has suffered gender-based violence,” she observes.
Children Mending Hearts started with 39 kids. “Now we’re servicing over 800 children a week,” says Lysa. “We don’t charge for the curriculum—we raise the money for it.”
Lysa is passionate about growing the “grassroots” non-profit, impacting the lives of more children in the years to come. For more, go to childrenmendinghearts.org.