Actors turned models -- Some stars have turned to the fashion arena to make a quick buck, including Jason Priestley, Sofia Coppola, and more

By Giselle Benatar
Updated June 04, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Actors turned models

Maybe it’s because a few hours voguing in a studio works up less of a sweat than a four-month film shoot. Or maybe it’s just because there are no pesky lines to memorize. Whatever the reason, more and more actors are finding roles in the modeling world. Ever since 1989, when Gap ads started turning celebs into stellar clotheshorses, movie and TV stars have been pouncing on modeling opportunities as a great, low-stress source of income and publicity. Beverly Hills, 90210‘s Jason Priestley broods sweetly for Pepe Jeans. Sofia Coppola, recently signed by Ford Models Inc., poses alfresco for Banana Republic. And Drew Barrymore slides into a new Guess? jeans campaign. Some designers have even used celebs on their runways: Madonna has appeared for Jean Paul Gaultier, Sandra Bernhard for Chanel, and Ivana Trump for Thierry Mugler. The Ford agency has added Bernhard, Ione Skye, and Steven Seagal to its stable. Its copresidents, Joe Hunter and Katie Ford, expect other agencies to follow suit. ”People like Sandra Bernhard really make a statement,” Hunter says. ”They command attention.” The instant cachet a high-profile performer brings is the main attraction for the clothing line. What’s in it for the stars? Cold, hard cash. Celebrity rates — more than $20,000 a day — now approach those of supermodels.

While actors aren’t required to be the perfect physical specimens professional models are, they must evoke a specific quality. Priestley, for example, was tapped by Pepe for his straight-arrow cool. ”He embodied the brand’s core values — honesty and awareness,” says Mike Toth, the president of Toth Design and Advertising, which produced Priestley’s print ads and the television spots that will air next month. ”He’s also incredibly handsome.” But not all stars are model material. ”Michelle Pfeiffer wouldn’t make a great supermodel because she’s already too strongly established as a persona,” says Frances Grill, head of Click Model Management. ”It’s difficult to rework a big star’s image into something that other people can use.”

Still, modeling talent may be lurking in the most unlikely places. Jaye Davidson, the surprise of The Crying Game, appears in an ad for Gap. And what actress would Katie Ford most like to sign? ”Roseanne Arnold, because she’s a such a great character.” Just as long as you schedule a shoot for Tom, too.