On the Right Track

updated 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

LANDING A LEADING ROLE IN THE DISTURBING new film In the Company of Men was the biggest break of Stacy Edwards's career. Still, the director had to postpone shooting last year so that Edwards could star in an even more important production: her wedding. It was doubly urgent because her mother, Patty, was dying of breast cancer. "She wanted to be there," says Edwards. "She really fought hard for that, and she won."

Edwards, 32, is at peace with her mother's recent death because it meant the end of her suffering. But after a series of journeyman roles on such shows as the late soap Santa Barbara, she laments that Patty didn't live to see her success as a deaf secretary whose heart is deliberately broken by two cruel businessmen in Company. An award winner at January's Sundance Film Festival, the acclaimed film was shot in 11 days—one-fourth the time the actress spent studying the deaf to prepare. "Everyone has some connection to betrayal," Edwards says of the film's success.

The daughter of Air Force officer Preston Edwards, 58 (now retired), the military brat and her brother John, 29, lived on bases on Guam, in Belgium and on several in the U.S. Gene Kelly sparked her performance gene when she saw That's Entertainment! in third grade. But dancing came at a cost: anorexia, fed by "tons of laxatives. It's a living hell—so hard to shake," says Edwards, who ditched both anorexia and dance to study acting, winning the part on Santa Barbara in a 1986 audition. Edwards met her man, actor Eddie Bowz, 30, in 1993 ipF while catering a Beverly Hills party between acting jobs. Bowz, a waiter at the party, wooed her with the soft shoe. Given her weakness for Gene Kelly, says Edwards, "I knew this was the man for me."

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