WITH AN EYE ON . . . : 'Baywatch's' model keeps a lookout for not-so-wholesome role


"Next, I'd like to play someone who is evil and sexual, someone really strong," offers sweet-faced Alexandra Paul, who plays beach boss Lt. Stephanie Holden on "Baywatch."

Paul, 29, was a New York model whose first television role was the wholesome model--opposite Daryl Hannah--in the 1982 "Paper Dolls," which led to roles in "Getting Physical" and the features "American Flyers," "Christine" and "Dragnet." Paul also recently co-starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in USA Network's "Alistair MacLean's Death Train," which is being made into a sequel.

"I play all these nice people!" she says, munching on a piece of lemon-blueberry cake at a Beverly Hills diner. "I'd really like to play" a bad guy, Paul said. "I spent years trying to shed my tomboy image. Now, I think I'd be good playing that."

Her "Baywatch" character is "not as much a sun bunny as one would think on a show like ours," which takes place predominantly on the beach and whose principals are frequently in swimsuits. Paul auditioned for another role, which she said wasn't for her. Fortunately, the "Baywatch" producers liked her enough to write in her character, with Paul specifically in mind.

Despite a reluctance to commit to a series, Paul acknowledges that working on "Baywatch" isn't such a bad job.

"You're on the beach all day," she says. "It's very nice. There's not a long wait between setups either, since we work with natural lighting. You just look in the paper for sunrise and sunset, and you know your schedule."

Sunsets aside, its been a physically demanding role.

"There are no wimps!" she says emphatically. It's written in the cast members' contracts that they must keep fit. At first when I saw that stay-fit line, I assumed it applied only to the women, but it doesn't. The men have to keep in shape too!"

"Baywatchers" also have to swim. "You know how actresses are always told to say yes to casting people?" she asks, "Like, 'Can you speak French and do somersaults on a horse?' 'Yes!' . . . and this actress couldn't swim. Then it was a water day and she was supposed to go in, and she said, 'I thought stunt people did that!' "

Swimming is no problem for Paul, who not only swims daily but was a junior lifeguard.

For beach and land shots, the show is filmed at Will Rogers State Beach at the end of Temescal Canyon. For water days, because of the pollution, Paul says, "We go out to Paradise Cove or Leo Carrillo."

"I worry about skin cancer and have suggested a story line on the subject," says Paul, who uses plenty of sunscreen for the show.

Contemporary issues are important to her, and she has taken advantage of her popularity on the show. She's now speaking in schools on an issue that greatly concerns her: overpopulation.

While Paul has a regular car, she also has an electric car.

"It's great," she says smiling. "It gets me where I need to go."

And that, for now, seems to be at a quick pace.

"Baywatch" airs Monday at 8 p.m. on KCOP and Saturday at 5 p.m. on KUSI.

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