By EW Staff
October 20, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

You could chalk it up to this Colin Powell thing. Or how playing an ex-Marine in Dangerous Minds gave Michelle Pfeiffer’s box office a $77 million boost. You might even factor in Glenn Close’s Emmy-winning performance as Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer in the NBC TV movie Serving in Silence. Whatever the reason, both Demi Moore and Meg Ryan have been bitten by the military bug. The actresses will don fatigues in movies scheduled to begin production soon for release next year.

Moore, who already served one tour of duty in 1992’s A Few Good Men, will star in Caravan Pictures’ tentatively titled G.I. Jane, to be directed by Ridley Scott (Thelma & Louise). Based on a screenplay by Danielle Alexandra and David Twohy (The Fugitive), the film features Demi as the first woman to enter the exclusive Navy SEAL training program. ”It’s an interesting role because it questions what is the role of a woman in the military and what are those boundaries,” says Moore. ”At this point, combat is one of the areas where women are not allowed, and that interests me a lot.”

While Moore is in training in Southern California, Ryan will play a Desert Storm helicopter pilot in Twentieth Century Fox’s Courage Under Fire. Denzel Washington costars as an Air Force investigator who must determine Ryan’s suitability as the first woman to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. The pic, under the direction of Ed Zwick (Legends of the Fall), could shatter Ryan’s Kewpie-doll image.

One thing’s for sure: Moore and Ryan in uniform could wind up doing wonders for the Pentagon’s public relations arsenal. ”I think more than anything, it will plant the seeds of ideas in young women…to consider the military as a career option,” says the ROTC’s Lieut. Col. Jeanne Charbonneau. And that’s an order.

— Richard Natale, with additional reporting by Shirliey Fung and Cindy Pearlman