Last March, Hannah Taylor Gordon was sitting in a damp, dark room two hours outside Prague when she began to bawl. "I couldn't bear the thought that my hair would be gone," says Gordon, 14, who was getting clipped for her title role in ABC's two-part miniseries Anne Frank, which begins airing May 20. "I sat there, top naked, crying. But when I looked in the mirror, I really liked it!"

Gordon's enthusiasm for the part goes well beyond appearances. The British-born actress, who got her career break at age 5 on the BBC medical drama Casualty, felt a strong connection to Frank, who had died at 15 of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. "I live in a dream world, I like writing stories," she says. "I felt closest to her when we were doing the really tormenting scenes."

Even though there is nothing even approaching torment in Gordon's past: The eighth grader lives in a London flat with her homemaker mother, Claire, 35, entrepreneur father, Andrew, 40, and four younger siblings. "She really hasn't changed," says Anna Ramsay, 14, Gordon's best friend since they were 4. Together they attend slumber parties and shop for flip-flops and summer hats. But there's one rite of teen passage Gordon prefers to skip. "I haven't had my ears pierced," she says. "I'm too scared."