12/25/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
Most Americans' first glimpse of model-actress Hurley was memorable indeed: In photo after wire-burning photo, there she was, stunningly revealed through the safety pins holding together a black Versace gown at the London premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral. The British beauty, accompanying Hugh Grant, her live-in love since 1987 and the beguiling film's beguiling star, was clearly determined not to stand in anybody's shadow.
A year later, she was at his side—grim-faced—when the two made a show of togetherness at the L.A. premiere of his Nine Months, days after Grant, 35, was busted for consorting with a prostitute on June 27. By this time Hurley, 30, was herself famous, and not just as the woman wronged. Thanks to a flawless complexion, Alps-high cheekbones and flashing blue-green eyes, she had become a darling of the fashion glossies, especially after landing a multimillion-dollar contract last March with Estée Lauder cosmetics.
Many thought Grant's mug shot would cold-cream Hurley's Lauder deal. Others thought the romance would die. Instead, Hurley stood (not too closely) by her man. Although she won't discuss Grant's, uh, slip, Hurley says, "We're living and working together." He visited her on the South African set of the forthcoming film The Spear. They are thinking of buying a house in Ireland. And they're planning a thriller, Extreme Measures, with Grant starring and Hurley producing. "She knows me inside out," Grant explained. After one business meeting, an agent observed, "It was clear who had the pants on in the relationship. She was very professional."
And has her '95 been a Dickens of a year, reflecting the best and the worst of times? "I've been absolutely frantic as hell," she says.
"I haven't had a chance to gather my thoughts about anything." Good thing.