Brigit Grant

Working with two of Hollywood's most awesome stars didn't worry bold Amy Brenneman a bit.

She cheekily called Sly Stallone and scary Robert De Niro "Mr Icon" and "Big American Legend" to their faces.

"I used the same pet names for them," says Amy, who stars as Stallone's playwright sidekick in the new movie Daylight and was De Niro's girl in Heat.

"I kept waiting for Bob to show this demented side to his character, but he just kept laughing."

So did Amy's parents when they heard that a magazine had voted their daughter one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.

"It wasn't quite what I expected," says Amy. "My parents thought it was hysterical that they could compile such a list."

But whatever mum and dad think of her appeal, producers just can't get enough of her. Hence her appearances in Heat, as a save-the-day stepmother in Fear and a ghostly apparition in Casper.

Not bad for a girl who started out doing tampon commercials and was an extra in an underwear ad before she hit the big time as femme fatale Janice Licalsi in NYPD Blue. She says: "The underwear job was demoralising, because you had to sit around in your bra and knickers waiting to get chosen if they wanted you in a shot, and they didn't choose me."

The producers of NYPD Blue, on the other hand, couldn't wait for Amy to get her kit off. Her naked scenes with David Caruso - who played Lieut John Kelly - shocked America.

"I was totally nude for those scenes," she says. "I was in my trailer and this woman was putting make-up on my nipple. "I said: 'What are you doing?' They were trying to get away with showing the whole breast, by sort of whiting out the nipple.

"I was fine about showing it, but I didn't want to look like a Martian."

Daylight - in which Amy is stuck in an underwater tunnel - offered a different challenge. She explains: "We had to have scuba training, so that we could take breaths of air and not resurface while filming."

Amy's wet figure- hugging clothing clearly appealed to Stallone, though she doesn't have any love scenes with him.

"I think Sly wanted to take off his clothes, but the director wouldn't let him. He's a bit of a show-off," she giggles.