Television may have made Lacey Chabert a familiar face but movies, the precious teen of Party of Five has decided, are much more fun. Take the Lost In Space scene where she fearlessly plunges, in a harness, down the side of the mammoth Jupiter 2 space ship. "They brought in a stunt double, but oh, come on! I wanted to do it," she says with a giggle. "It's like you're an acrobat, dropping down 30 feet head first. It's scary, but it's fun!"
Acrobat may be the one show-biz profession Chabert hasn't yet aced. (But give her a few years, she's only 15.) Chabert was just five when she left Mississippi for Broadway, where she sang and acted as young Cossette in Les Miserable. She's lent her voice to several cartoons, including Anastasia and the upcoming series The Wild Thornberries. On Party of Five, she's been through the melodrama wringer but still found time to be a violin prodigy (yes, that's really her playing). And in her film debut, she gets to cut loose a bit -- as Lost In Space's rebellious Penny Robinson who pants after cute Major West, teases her little brother and, on occasion, talks back to her folks. "Penny is being hurled into deep space and her life is being taken away from her," she says. "Everything seems so massive to her."
It's a different role for Chabert, who in real-life is close to her parents and her brother and sister, with whom she now lives in Los Angeles. It was also different from Party of Five. "Most of the kids [who recognize me on the street] are like, 'What is it like to work with Scott Wolf? Is he as cute in real life as he is on the show?'" she says. Working with acting heavyweights like Gary Oldman was a little more nerve-wracking. "I was pretty intimidated at first. Everything he does in his movies is so real, you wonder if he's really like these people. But he's very down to earth, very funny." The whole shoot, she says, "was very fun. I definitely want to do another film."
In the meantime, she is committed to at least two more years on Party of Five. And she promises that the show will lighten up a bit soon. "Claudia has cancer now," she jokes. "No, no, now that Charlie is over his cancer, some good things happen and Claudia finally gets out of her depression and meets this boy and considers going away to prep school and is actually invited to her first prom." Chabert finds this a bit corny. "[Suicide] would be better than the prom!"
It may be Chabert's only shot at the prom, though, so expansive are her professional plans. In addition to doing more film and TV work, she'd like to introduce her father's cooking to California and other Cajun-clueless states. "The restaurant would be Chabert's Cajun cuisine -- Cajun food is the best!" she chirps. Oh, and she'd like to direct some day, too. But for now, "I love love to perform," she says. "I love what I'm doing now. I'm passionate about it."
-- LAURA SMITH KAY