Annabeth Gish seemed poised for stardom when at age 18, and hot off the 1988 sleeper Mystic Pizza - starring another promising young actress, Julia Roberts - she left Hollywood for Duke University. "It was," she says, "a very hard decision. Some powerful people in movies told me I was making a big mistake." At 24, with cum laude honors in English and theatre, she has returned to the screen, as Julie Nixon Eisenhower in Nixon, and holding her own with Uma Thurman and Timothy Hutton in Beautiful Girls. Gish talked with us from her book-filled West Los Angeles apartment.

People: What has it been like returning to Hollywood ?
Annabeth: It's been hard re-educating people. They think in terms of your last film, and in mine I was an awkward adolescent. Returning is like coming out.

People: Do you feel you've lost ground ?
Annabeth: What's happened to Julia [Roberts] is amazing. You can't compare that to anything. But watching what my friends were doing is hard. That's the beast that rises up, and you just have to learn to tame it.

People: Did you consider giving up acting while you were in school ?
Annabeth: I thought about writing. I studied poetry all through college, and I'd love to publish my poetry, but I'm shy about showing it. Maybe someday.

People: What attracted you to Beautiful Girls ?
Annabeth: The writing. There's a monologue delivered by Rosie O' Donnell about how women on the covers of magazines are airbrushed, their images perfected and phony. She tells them to appreciate what they have. I just said: "That's so true. That's something I want to save."
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