USA TODAY

Teri Hatcher did something daring a couple of years ago: a brief but fully frontal nude scene in Heaven’s Prisoners.  Cut to the present and a juice bar in this upscale San Fernando Valley neighborhood.

Hatcher, looking as wholesome as her title character on ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, is sipping carrot juice and explaining why she did it.

The scene is her first appearance in the movie. “With an entrance like that,” she says, “you have to at least go, ‘What the hell is this person doing in this movie?’ You can’t possibly believe they just hired Teri Hatcher to take her clothes off, and that’s all she’s going to do.”

Famous for the “are they real?” episode of TV’s Seinfeld, she does plenty more, most of it devious, as the Cajun sexpot in Prisoners. Based on James Lee Burke’s best seller about a New Orleans ex-cop (Alec Baldwin) forced back into crime-fighting, the film sat on the shelf for two years because of financial problems at now-defunct Savoy Pictures. “It really wasn’t my intention to do a character so different from Lois,” Hatcher says.

In fact, she did Prisoners on her first break from the romantic TV series, when its renewal was uncertain. Lois & Clark is a hit now, and she expects to elicit a more dramatic response to her playing a seductress. “I think it is good timing for me just to remind people that I can do something else.”

But this isn’t the start of a Hatcher trend. She was asked to do a nude scene for 2 days in the Valley, due in September, but talked the director out of it. Still, Hatcher, 31, has a sex-goddess thing going. An on-line photo of her in a cape and little else was downloaded so often (20,000 times in six months), she’s known as the queen of cyberspace. “I almost didn’t get Lois Lane because ABC thought I was too sexy, based on Soapdish, the last thing I had done.”

Now that the network is happy she’s in the role and the show is a hit, Hatcher has been fending off tabloid stories that include hints she’s become anorexic.

“I am not,” she says. “If I were anorexic I would want to do something about it and be a role model for doing something about it.” Hatcher says she’s happy with how she looks. She used to go on line and talk to Lois & Clark fans — until someone said, “She needs to start using wrinkle cream.” She was mortified. “I look in the mirror every day and I know I need wrinkle cream.” She stopped going on line because she didn’t like overhearing such intimate talk about herself.

The one-time math major, who grew up in California’s Silicon Valley and studied at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, has had a good year on Lois & Clark. She wrote a well-received episode. Though they’re not bosom buddies, Hatcher and co-star Dean Cain get along well, she says. “It’s been three weeks or so since we wrapped (for the season), and we haven’t called each other. We don’t go out to dinner. . . I would say we are not really friends, but there certainly is a very bonded support system.” Hatcher doesn’t have a film to do during this summer’s break from shooting Lois & Clark. Her husband, actor Jon Tenney, is doing a film mostly in Las Vegas while she’s gardening and reading “and having my dogs pounce all over me” at their modest home in horse country near Pasadena. The tabloids have speculated about marital trouble, which she finds puzzling. “I have been totally blasted in the tabloids lately,” she says. “I sort of find it odd for someone who is so honest to have things written about them that aren’t true.”

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