08/19/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT
The label "model turned actress" has not always been a compliment in Hollywood. But the recent success stories of former mannequins Geena Davis, Andie MacDowell and Kim Basinger have made the career change more respectable. The latest batch includes 15-year-old Seventeen cover girl Milla Jovovich, who won a nationwide casting call to star in Return to the Blue Lagoon; fresh-faced Ralph Lauren clotheshorse Isabelle Townsend, who appears in the Cannes Festival award winner Barton Fink (in theaters Aug. 21); and swimsuit goddess Kathy Ireland, featured in this fall's Necessary Roughness. "There's less of a taboo than there used to be," says Peg Donegan, a talent agent at Flick, the sister agency of Click Models. "In the past a pretty girl would be asked to be in a movie and would do a bad job. Now they study acting."
You say it lakes glamour to make it in the movies? Neigh. These days, some of the most popular screen personalities are right off the farm. Norman, the calf that Billy Crystal rescues in City Slickers, is just the tip of the haystack. Priscilla Presley has a barnyard menagerie in her Naked Gun 2½ apartment, and Michael J. Fox winds up with a pig in Doc Hollywood. "I have a stack of scripts calling for horses, cows, pigs, goats, ducks, chickens and sheep," says Jack Lilley, whose Canyon Country, Calif., company, Movin' On Livestock, provided the animals for City Slickers and for the forthcoming The Gambler IV, the latest of Kenny Rogers's popular TV movies. The new attraction to critters, says former stuntman Lilley, is as clear as a cowbell: "People like to associate with animals, and they are tired of seeing those stinkin' old car wrecks."
Fashion plays a role in two current films about successful men who suffer life-and-death crises and end up better people. Harrison Ford, in Regarding Henry, and William Hurt, in The Doctor, start out as unsympathetic characters in severe suits and become nicer, more casually dressed guys. Although Savile Row-tailored Henry (Ford) wears the same wardrobe throughout the film, "there's a different body inside," says costume designer Ann Roth. Post-transformation he leaves the top button open on his shirts and lets his hair fall into his eyes. Doctor Hurt switches from Armani power outfits to generic suede and corduroy. "These characters are following the trends," says ChipToIbert of the Men's Fashion Association. "Men are dressing more relaxed and approachable."