Playing Neve Campbell's new love interest, the actress sits down with EW to talk about her role

By Shawna Malcom
April 30, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Olivia d’Abo is setting the record straight about her upcoming lip-lock with Neve Campbell. ”There’s no big lesbian affair,” she says of her new Party of Five gig, which has her gay professor character stirring more than a passion for learning in Campbell’s heretofore-hetero Julia. ”We do share one rather nice kiss but, like, get over it already.”

That might prove difficult, given the thirtysomething’s knack for snagging attention-getting roles. Six years after The Wonder Years, d’Abo — a single mom who lives in L.A. with 3-year-old son Oliver — is still recognized by fans as Kevin’s (Fred Savage) hippie sis, Karen. And while her porn star turn in the upcoming indie flick The Velocity of Gary clocks in at a mere seven minutes, ”Olivia steals every scene she’s in,” says director Dan Ireland, who was impressed by d’Abo’s ability to play against type. ”You’d never know it from this performance, but she’s a very refined Englishwoman.”

But not too refined. At 9, d’Abo was uprooted to Taos, N.M., from her native London after her parents (former Manfred Mann vocalist Mike d’Abo and model/actress Maggie London) returned from a ”spiritually awakening” trip there. ”It was complete culture shock. I went from living with these very hardcore notions of how to be a proper English child to being pretty unrestricted. All hell broke loose.”

Still, by the time she hit puberty, d’Abo already had the wherewithal to launch an acting career. She landed her first commercial — for McDonald’s — at 13: ”All you saw was my knobby knees, but I thought I’d hit it so big.” Actually, it was that five-season Wonder stint — not to mention a well-publicized romance with Julian Lennon — that really got her noticed. After the Emmy-winning series wrapped, other high-profile offers rolled in (including one, oddly enough, from Saturday Night Live), but d’Abo opted to go the indie route, most notably playing a battered woman in 1994’s The Last Good Time. ”I tend to do roles,” she says, ”that are either indicative of what’s going on in my life or things I’m a bit scared of.”

So, which category does her Party romp fall into? ”A different one,” laughs d’Abo. ”The publicity-grabbing one.”

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