Jennifer Cooke Plays a Different Kind of Alienated Youth as a Half-Lizard on Television's V

updated 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

It hasn't been easy for Jennifer Cooke to adjust to her role on the new series V. For starters, she had to leave behind family and friends in New York. And as the half-human, half-lizard teenager, she spends several hours a day in makeup. But the worst hardship came when those nasty Hollywood types ordered the 5'6" foot Cooke to lose 15 of her 125 pounds. "Fifteen pounds]" exclaims the 20-year-old. "I used to go to the gym, sit on the Lifecycle for two minutes, go in the Jacuzzi bath and say, 'What a bitchin' workout!' All of a sudden it was, 'So this is a Nautilus machine!' "

Four months later, however, Cooke is one happy little half-lizard. A Hollywood novice, she nonetheless has a teenybopper flick, Give Me an F, in the can and a pilot, Summer, that aired on NBC last month. As the mysterious Elizabeth in V(mysterious, in part, because the character has aged 18 years since it was born last May on the miniseries) she plays a good kid with some interesting quirks: "Just when you've had enough kissy-wissy love scenes," she explains, "they'll tell me to 'throw this person across the room without touching him.' "

Cooke's career began normally enough. The daughter of a Long Island, N.Y. construction-company owner and a real estate agent, she was discovered at a piano recital at age 9. She racked up more than 200 commercials by the time she began a two-year hitch as Morgan, a college student who got married too young, on The Guiding Light. She won the part in V over 200 others who read for it.

As she settles into her role, Cooke is also settling into a newly-bought modern house in Laurel Canyon and will be enjoying L.A. life with boyfriend Robert Newman, 26, who was the hero Josh on GL. "I'm going to have tomato plants, and dinner parties every night," vows Jennifer. It's easy if you can set the table without touching a plate.

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