HER SKIN IS ALABASTER, HER FEATURES fine. And all her life, says model turned actress Lysette Anthony, people have treated her like a doll. "They used to pat me on the head," she grumbles, "and as I got older, they'd pat me on the behind."
Grumble no longer. After her turn as a new age aerobics instructor in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives—one of the most explosive performances ever seen in an Allen film—the only place anyone will be palling Anthony, 29, is on her strong British back. Indeed, though it was Woody and Mia on the minds of curious moviegoers at the film's opening, the name on nearly everyone's lips come final-credits time was Lysette. "I am the surprise," pronounces the actress, as proud as she is correct. "I couldn't wish for a greater start."
Just last year, Anthony was lying on the floor of her one-bedroom Los Angeles apartment sobbing. Though Anthony—the only child of onetime stage actors, now divorced—had been a much-loved regular on a British sitcom, no one in Hollywood was returning her calls.
And then it happened. Visiting New York City last September for a gallery opening of paintings by her husband, artist Luc Leestemaker, 35, Anthony was called to read for Allen's film. She turned out a perfect American accent (thanks, she says, to a speech coach who practices "tongue thrust" therapy) and got the part. She also got a mentor. "Woody gave me the courage to be brave," she says. Of Allen's breakup with longtime companion and costar, Mia Farrow, she says, "I'm deeply saddened." But, she adds with firm finality, "anyone who's been in close contact with Woody can only support him."
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