"The Winds of War" blew her across the Atlantic Ocean. Until she was featured in that miniseries on American television, Victoria Tennant was a British actress, known to a relatively small circle of friends for her work over there and on stage over here.
But "Winds" brought her to a larger audience -- and circle of producers -- who simply refuse to let her go home again.
"That was a dramatic change for me," she said. "For a European actor it's hard to get a maximum exposure to an audience . . . If actors get exposure they become commodities that are saleable."
There couldn't be much wider an audience than the millions who saw "Winds of War." And what they saw in Tennant, who played the British consort of Navy officer Robert Mitchum, was an actress with looks reminiscent of Grace Kelly's and an icy facade fronting for a feisty temperament. Ah, if only Alfred Hitchcock were here.
But a series of other producers and directors have been here to help bring about the Americanization of Victoria.
Since "Winds," she has appeared in another prominent miniseries, "Chiefs." Carl Reiner cast her in "All of Me" with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, and John Frankenheimer put her in "The Holcroft Covenant," playing Helden in the film version of the Robert Ludlum thriller.
And when she hasn't been asked to play a role in this or that theatrical or television film -- she's simply asked to play parts; she hasn't auditioned since she was in acting school -- she's developed her own material. She co-produced and starred in "Strangers Kiss," a film in which she plays the girl friend of a petty hood.
"There are far fewer good women's parts than there are for men," she said, speaking of the need for a woman to produce projects for herself to ensure steady employment. "You have a lot of action pictures (featuring men in the leads), with women often being window dressing and supplying sex. Also, a lot of the business is youth-oriented." Tennant is all of 34.
She is a featured player this week in NBC's "Under Siege," a three-hour TV movie that asks how America would respond to terrorism.
"I play Peter Strauss' wife and he's the head of the FBI," said Tennant. "The women's role in this picture is to bring some private humanity to the movie. The men are moving around dealing with public tragedy. The women make it private and personal.
"The theme (of the movie) is a little close to the bone," she said. "The idea that terrorists would put a bomb in America meant for Americans is not too far- fetched." She noted the outrage Americans feel when even one is killed by terrorism overseas. "Can you imagine what would happen if a bomb were put on a 747 in an American airport?"
Tennant can well imagine such things from both a European and American perspective. She was born in London to a ballerina mother and a talent-agent-turned- producer father. She went to ballet school at age 8 and had a godfather who was not a bad model to follow for a life on stage -- Laurence Olivier.
For the last nine years she's been working first out of New York and then Los Angeles. A few months ago she became a United States citizen.
The path to naturalization came into view while she was in this country in connection with "Winds." At a Capitol Hill lunch, she caught the ear -- and no doubt the eye -- of a couple of congressmen who liked her political views (she's pro nuclear disarmament, pro ERA, and in favor of women's option to have abortions) and asked her to give some speeches.
She declined on grounds that she shouldn't speak where she couldn't vote. "When I got home," she said, "I found naturalization papers in my letter box."