Agnes Bruckner

updated 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Revving Up: Agnes Bruckner, 17, is wowing critics with her turn as a rebellious teen who sleeps with her high school English teacher (David Strathairn) in the new movie drama Blue Car.

Road Test: An actress since 10, the L.A. native won the role over hundreds of ingenues. Says director Karen Moncrieff: "She had this vulnerability and fragility that grabbed my heart."

Mirror Check: During production, recalls Bruckner, "when the makeup lady tried to cover up one pimple I had, [Moncrieff] said, 'No, take the makeup off.' " That's a switch from her former gig as a young runaway on TV's The Bold and the Beautiful. In the soap, she says, "I looked like a Gap model living on the streets."

Hazardous Conditions: For her sex scene with Strathairn, "we were in this hotel where the carpets were crunchy and the bed was disgusting," says Bruckner, who lives with her actor friend Francis Capra and his family in La Crescenta, Calif. (Her parents, Joszef, a businessman in his native Hungary, and Nina, an L.A. homemaker, are divorced.) "It was very creepy, which turned out great for the movie."

Life in the Fast Lane: A fan of the muchinked Angelina Jolie, Bruckner sports four tattoos, including a lion's tail on one ankle (she's a Leo).

Next Stop: Another edgy role, as a bulimic in the drama Stateside, due out later this year. "I don't like reading scripts where the blonde bombshell is a cheerleader and gets every guy," she says. "As soon as I get to page 5 I have to throw them away."

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