Breaking the Ice

updated 07/06/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SHE HAS ONLY MINUTES of screen time as the corseted Ice Princess in Batman Returns, but you get the feeling that Cristi Conaway already thinks of herself as a star. "I used to blurt out my age," says the 5'6", 109-lb. actress. "Then I realized that Julia Roberts has been 24 for the last four years, and I thought, 'I gotta quit telling. No one else tells.' "

And no one else is quite like the spunky Conaway, who, for the record, is 27. "God made her and dropped the mold," says her husband of one year, actor Salvator Xuereb. "But he should have made a lot of her, just to have one in every country."

The Lubbock, Tex.-raised daughter of a car dealer and a mother who sells real estate, Conaway is happy to be an original. Since arriving in Hollywood two years ago from Dallas, where she modeled for catalogs, Conaway says she has been confident that stardom "is gonna happen." So far, a bit part as the receptionist in last summer's Doc Hollywood led to her auspicious audition with Batman director Tim Burton.

In her next role, as a woman involved with a married man in Woody Allen's still untitled new drama, Conaway inches closer to the top. Her love interest is played by Sydney Pollack, the director whose own new project is John Grisham's best-seller The Firm, starring Tom Cruise and an as-yet-uncast female costar. Says Conaway: "I wrote Sydney a note saying, 'Look, I had an affair with you. It's time for me to do this movie. You owe me.' "

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