No Sure Things

There's an old Hollywood adage: Never do scenes with children or animals because the audience won't even notice you're there.

Pity Daphne Zuniga then, for in "The Fly II," opening Friday, she shares action sequences with an 8-foot-tall, acid-spitting, massive-jawed, camera-hogging lab project gone amok.

"It was intimidating to me," says the 26-year-old actress, "the thought of doing a movie with a huge, green, slimy mechanical thing."

Zuniga made her mark in 1985 when she nabbed a lead in Rob Reiner's little gem "The Sure Thing."

"I didn't work for a year. I've tried to figure that one out, but I think I probably wasn't ready. Though I did turn down scripts that were too similar to my character in 'The Sure Thing.' "

Mel Brooks eventually put her back to work as a whining, pampered and tightly corseted princess in the 1987 "Star Wars" sendup, "Spaceballs." It turned out to be much harder work, she says, that the special-effects-laden "Fly" sequel.

After reading the script to the sequel, Zuniga went out and rented David Cronenberg's 1986 version, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, which itself was a remake of the 1958 original. Zuniga viewed the tape before her audition for "Fly II" director Chris Walas.

"It really helped because Jeff's humor was so important, so crucial and I think that's what elevated that film," Zuniga says. "It helped to see how Geena reacted to him and acted with the special effects."

One segment along these lines involved snuggling up to a mucous-covered and repulsive Eric Stoltz (who portrays Goldblum's son) for an emotional embrace.

Since this scenario doesn't come up too often in acting class, how does one manage to stay focused?

"Concentration was my savior," she says. "I spent a lot of time in my trailer trying to block it out."

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