Rebecca Gayheart: Loretta Golightly?

Not-so-innocent Rebecca Gayheart would have been potent fuel for the "Twin Peaks" sex machine a few years back--she has the appropriate wide eyes and dangerous pout.

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So far though, Gayheart's career has been mainly suds: she was on the daytime soap "Loving," and played Luke Perry's doomed wife on Beverly Hills, 90210. The 24-year-old Gayheart tells me, "I am incredibly ambitious. I want to sink my teeth into a part and show what I can do, and I want it to happen now." In fact, she got the painful jaw disorder TMJ from grinding her teeth over it all. "It was stress related," says Gayheart. "I wear a little retainer now." Well, it's time for her to unclench those teeth .inasmuch as she costars with Gabriel Byrne in Somebody Is Waiting, an indie directed by Martin Donovan, and she plays Tim Robbins's gal pal in Touchstone's Nothing To Lose.

Gayheart is sort of Loretta Lynn meets Holly Golightly: a coal miner's daughter from Pine Top, Kentucky (pop 800), she hightailed it to the Big Apple at a tender 15. "I figured if I went to New York, something would happen," she says. Modeling happened, then acting. Now she's working on her media savvy. When I ask if the volatile Martin Lawrence, who costars in_ Nothing To Lose_, was out of control on the movie's set, she demurs, but then whips out her cigarette lighter and shows me a nifty trick. She'd much rather talk .about Martin Amis, the acerbic Brit novelist who's her favorite. Of course, I can't help noticing what's on her reading table now: two big Jackie O. photo books. Well, that makes sense for an ambitious actress out to show range.

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Joshua Mooney