Irene Bedard

updated 05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 01:00AM

IF YOU PUSH HER, SHE'LL ADMIT THAT SHE HAS a megawatt smile: "It takes over my whole face sometimes!" But don't ask 27-year-old actress Irene Bedard to elaborate on her appeal. "Looks," she says, "have never been important to me."

That she has the sultriness of Olivia Hussey and the sparkle of Julia Roberts will be beside the point this summer. As the speaking voice of Disney's animated Pocahontas, she'll be heard but not seen. "I had such fun doing it—it was all imagination," says Bedard, who has never met Mel Gibson, her unseen leading man.

Radiance like Bedard's won't stay hidden. "I flipped for her," says Pocahontas director Mike Gabriel. "She's very sexy." The Alaska-raised daughter of an Inuit and a French-Canadian/Cree, Bedard lives in Manhattan with her musician husband, Denny Wilson. Recently seen in TNT's Lakota Woman, she says, "Native Americans—not Italians in wigs—should play Native Americans." And other parts too, though that's a taller order: "Casting directors will call and say, 'We've decided not to go ethnic.' It doesn't make me mad. It makes me determined."

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