05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
AS A SHY PRETEEN, JULIE DELPY HATED TO be noticed. "So I wore big thick glasses, even though I didn't have an eye problem," says the French actress. "I think I was trying to look like the author Marguerite Duras when she was 70. My mother called me Marguerite."
Now 25, Delpy is infinitely more cover girl than crone. "It's her eyes and the deep intelligence that lurks behind them," says Richard Linklater, director of the recent film romance Before Sunrise, which showcased Delpy as Ethan Hawke's overnight love interest. Her eyes, and a few other things. "There's a kind of look I have—fair-skinned, blonde—which may be part of why I get certain roles," says Delpy, who grew up in the Paris avant-garde theater community that nourished her actor parents, Albert and Marie. "I don't do much to be this way." Au contraire, she specializes in bad habits: She bites her nails, and she smokes. Yet today, Delpy, who is single, gets stared at more than ever—though the attention no longer bothers her. "I don't have good vision now, but I never wear glasses," she says. "That way I don't see everything."