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KELLY McGILLIS / ACTRESS

January 10, 1999|STEVE HOCHMAN

With "Witness," "Top Gun" and "The Accused," Kelly McGillis was one of the hottest actresses in the late-'80s. Then she vanished from the big screen, moving to Key West, Fla., where she and husband Fred Tillman are raising two daughters and running a restaurant. She's acted in TV movies and on Broadway but steered clear of Hollywood. Now at 41, she's back, as Val Kilmer's sister in Irwin Winkler's "At First Sight."

PRODIGAL'S RETURN: "My agent says people are calling, saying they're glad I'm back. I kind of stay away from all that. I don't really keep in touch with people I've worked with, not that I'm not friendly, but I have interests and friends here [in Key West] and none of that goes to the workplace."

NEW YOU: "Now that I'm older, I don't want to be seen as perpetually 20, so it's nice to reintroduce myself as a woman with life experience. I certainly don't have any fear about growing older. I look forward to being a character actor."

ROLE MODEL: "Probably Jessica Tandy--somebody who was not afraid to grow old gracefully, and I really admire her for her wide diversity of work and immense talent."

NOT ON THE MENU: "People come into my restaurant all the time and ask, 'Where's Tom [Cruise]?' I say, 'I don't know.' It's called 'Kelly's Caribbean Bar and Grill.' They know who I am. I have my 'Top Gun' jacket up."

BACK TO HOLLYWOOD: "I read the script for 'At First Sight' and auditioned for it. I liked the script and the idea of working with Irwin, and I knew Val from Juilliard. He was in the class before me. And I liked that my character was a supporting character, but very complex, a lot of nuances that would be fun to work on--being overly protective, but not bitchy."

SNEAK PREVIEWS: "I just finished a black comedy called 'Settlement' with John C. Reilly. I play kind of bust-up trailer trash. It was really fun--lots of fake gold jewelry, big hair. And I also just finished a film with Billy Zane and Henry Rollins called 'Morgan's Ferry,' a serious period film about three escaped convicts who come into a woman's life."

OUTSIDE: "I'm most interested in independent films . . . But I have two kids, so I don't see anything but 'A Bug's Life.' I don't watch TV and there's not much here in Key West that shows [indies]. But I'd rather live here and raise my kids. "

WAY OUTSIDE: "I'm really eager to see 'Gods and Monsters' and ["Life Is Beautiful"]. Many people have told me that those are really good. But they probably won't come here, so I'll have to see them [elsewhere]."

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