Patsy Kensit's Sultry Beauty Lights the Fuse in Lethal Weapon 2

UPDATED 07/31/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/31/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

Patsy Kensit had more than acting on her mind when she auditioned to play the love interest in Lethal Weapon 2. Throughout the session, admits the British bombshell, "I was thinking about who I could call to tell about meeting Mel Gibson." There are two sides to every story. According to director Richard Donner, "She walked into my office, read the scenes, and afterwards we had to resuscitate Mel."

The mutual admiration never went beyond the movie's steamy love scene. "We used to talk about Dan a lot," says Ken-sit, 21—referring to her husband of 14 months, Dan Donovan, 26, the keyboard player with Big Audio Dynamite. Yet Gibson—himself married, to Robyn Moore for a decade—became a good friend, and a friend in need, especially in a scene in which the two are under siege by helicopter guns. "It was frightening because things were really exploding," she says. "But Mel was so good. There was a point when he had to pull me down to the floor. Afterwards he rolled over and started laughing. He said, 'I could feel your heart beating through your back.' "

If the perils of making an action film are new to Kensit, acting is old hat. The daughter of Margie, a publicist, and James, an antiques dealer who died of leukemia in 1987, Patsy made her screen debut at 4, as Mia Farrow's daughter in The Great Gatsby—a role that also placed her in PEOPLE'S premiere issue. While attending St. Catherine's Convent, a girls school in London, near her native borough of Hounslow, she continued to act—most notably in the star-studded Hop The Blue Bird, which took 8-year-old Patsy to the Soviet Union with Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Jane Fonda. "I realized they were superstars because they had this presence," Kensit recalls.

Her big role came when she played Crepe Suzette in Julien Temple's flashy, video-inspired bomb, Absolute Beginners, in 1986. "I was toasted and then roasted by the press," she says. But Kensit, by then a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, was unfazed; after all, if stage and screen failed her, she still had her third career. Since 1982 Patsy has been the lead singer for her brother Jamie's band, Eighth Wonder, which performs "I'm Not Scared" on the Lethal Weapon 2 sound track.

The rock warbling led to meeting Donovan, when she was 16. Two years ago they started dating. "The first proper relationship I had," Kensit calls it. "I can honestly say I'm going to grow old with Dan. I'll be fat and happy with six children," she predicts. If the fat part seems unlikely, consider Kensit's daily regimen: "I eat chocolate, I drink Coca-Cola, I abhor exercise."

Clearly Kensit hasn't gone Hollywood, but Donner thinks she should. "She's sweet, she's warm, she's shy, she's sexy, she's innocent, she's funny, and she's only 21," the director says. "God help us all when she reaches her prime."

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