Star defies 'Gravity'

Rachel Hunter

PASADENA, Calif. -- Actress Rachel Hunter doesn't believe that ambition should chart your course.

The former model and ex-wife of Rod Stewart says, "People approach things very differently. They're very determined or they just let things happen. I think, with age, you kind of just let things happen and do the best that you can. You really have no control. Becoming powerless and thinking you have no control is a lot safer way to live -- it's an exciting way to live, too,

because you never know what's around the corner."

What's around the corner for her is a role in the new series, "Gravity," that premiered Friday on Starz. It's a part seemingly tailor-made for her. She plays an ex-model involved with a group of eccentrics -- all of whom have attempted suicide.

She says she understands her character's need for change. "She struggled from trying to go from that 'youth' thing to becoming a woman," says Hunter, who's seated in a gold brocade chair in a lounge here.

Hunter's original ambitions didn't involve acting OR modeling. She wanted to be a dancer and studied for 11 years in her native New Zealand. "I ended up being 5-11, and that's what I mean when I say things get put in your way. I had an injury. I got very, very sick and couldn't dance for six months. And then this (modeling) came along and I didn't want to do it, but it was put in front of me again, so I did it. And things happen," she shrugs.

"When you start getting pushy with yourself, it gets in the way. I'm not talking about being laid back and go with the flow, but just let things happen."

At 16, she developed toxoplasmosis, a blood disease that sidelined her. Following her recovery, she packed up and left home. "My parents were breaking up, and down there people do leave home around 16, 17, once you leave high school, which is 16. You kind of do leave and experience the world."

Part of that world was New York and the high-priced modeling field. Even there she was not competitive, she says. "Because that was handed to me on a silver platter. I came to New York and was doing Elle and Vogue and had Cover Girl commercials and Pantene. I never wanted to be a model. I just got given that and did it, and did it for many years and had a slew of different stuff, a variety of different things as well -- reality TV, everything.

"Nothing scares me. I'm very fearless when it comes to stuff, so I think you've got to keep knocking, keep doing things you do to see who you are as a person and to see what your capacity is and just keep going. It's almost like I'm a chameleon -- whatever rock I sit on, I just fit."

Even when she wed the famous Stewart, the glare of the flashbulbs didn't bother her. "I was pretty well-known in the U.S. when I married," says Hunter, who's wearing jeans, a black top and a black leather jacket.

"I still did what I wanted to do. If you want to create that drama, you can, but I don't want to. The press are interested in who they're interested in, and I'm obviously really boring, so it's OK (laughs). It's very different from when I was modeling. There's a lot more press around, there's a lot more shows on, a lot more press wanting dirt. Actors and models haven't changed their lifestyle -- it's the media, they just want to dig up the dirt. And that's stupid. They're creating this mess. ... I just choose to keep pretty much to myself when I'm working."

Hunter is a single mom with two teens, Renee, 17, and Liam, 15. "The most normal thing a woman can do is give birth to children. It's one reason we're put on Earth," she says. "I have respect for a woman who decides not to have children, too, because I think that's a really great and courageous step to make."

But for her, motherhood was a calling. "I just loved the idea of having these amazing human beings, you are guiding them and giving them the right choices to choose from. I found it very interesting in thinking to myself, processing before I would choose what to say and be very, very honest about situations and very open and aware of the choices I made around them. You're selfless."

Would she marry again? She thinks for a moment. "I'm so lucky the position I'm in now I have two amazing teenagers. I'm 40. I'm really, really happy with my life right now. If the right person comes along, great. But marriage? I don't know. I think the idea of marriage is amazing, but what if you want to go out with someone else in 10 years time? ... That puts a difficulty into it," she leans back and laughs a hearty roar.