Even TV stars need to be careful what they wish for. Last season, Bobbie Phillips gave her agents a shortlist of shows she’d like to do. At the top of her list: The X-Files. Within two weeks, she’d landed the role of Dr. Bambi Berenbaum, the buxom insect expert who caught Mulder’s eye. There was only one small problem. ”I really wanted to do a scary part,” Phillips recalls. ”And they were like, ‘This is our comedy episode.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to do the comedy episode! Make me an alien!’ ”
Now her wish is coming true. Almost. Phillips gets to play a space creature of sorts — actually, an astronaut trainee — in the syndicated drama The Cape. Even better, the show shoots in Cape Canaveral, Fla., near where her 9-year-old son, Mark, lives with his father (from whom Phillips, 28, is divorced). But The Cape hasn’t been a bump-free ride. ”At first, they were like, ‘We don’t want to do Melrose Space or Spacewatch,”’ she says. So when she found herself spending more time in a bathing suit than in a space suit, Phillips balked. ”I said, ‘I’ll play volleyball on the beach, but let me do more astronaut stuff, too.’ ” A compromise was reached. ”Last episode, I played volleyball, but I wore a one-piece with a wrap,” Phillips reports proudly.
That’s a lot more than she wore as a stripper in Showgirls, a role she’d rather forget: ”How was I to know? It was Paul Verhoeven, Joe Eszterhas, my first A movie.” Or so she thought, until she saw it. ”I sank into my seat,” she admits. ”It was really bad.”
Phillips’ career changed when her hair color did. A blond before her 1990 move from Florida to L.A., she went back to her dark roots in 1994 and eight months later won a matching role as drug addict Julie Costello on ABC’s Murder One last season. ”It was very hard for me when I was a blond—all I got was stereotypical Married…With Children ditsy stuff,” she says. ”But two weeks after I darkened my hair, I auditioned with somebody I’d read for before and they were like, ‘Oh my God, your acting has blossomed.’ I don’t think within a two-week period I became this amazing actress.”
Maybe Phillips underestimates herself. After all, she just won a Sci-Fi Universe award as best guest star for her X-Files turn. ”I thought someone was pulling a prank,” Phillips says. ”That’s my first acting award. I walk by it and laugh. The world is funny.”