"When people talk about films from two decades ago there's something very cool about that; it's nice they're still being watched." And what an eclectic set of fans they are.She can tell immediately, from the person, which film they will talk about.

Her acting debut came in the much loved TV show Press Gang – "I don't remember much about it, I'm afraid" – before she moved with her family to America.

Among the early credits was the seventh instalment of Police Academy, subtitled Mission to Moscow.

Claire Forlani's star was on the rise in the mid-1990s as she landed major roles in big-budget films alongside Brad Pitt, Sean Connery and Ben Stiller.

At the same time she built a solid track record in movies that would attain cult status, from directors including Kevin Smith and Julian Schnabel.

Yet the pressures of Hollywood, personal tragedy and fierce protectiveness of her privacy saw the British actress step back from the spotlight over the following decade.

She has continued to work consistently in film and television but it is the work from close to 20 years ago that still have fans stopping her in the street."It's nice now when people come up to me," she says.Naturally Pitt says his comments were taken out of context.However, it's worth noting that if Pitt really did say that he was trying to hide out in the nineties it wasn't from Jen. In fact, Pitt essentially spent the nineties dating every available actress in Hollywood. This week marks a significant new challenge: the 42-year-old, who divides her time between London and LA, will step onto the stage professionally for the first time in her career.Her theatre debut comes at The Tricycle in Kilburn, North London in The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which opens tonight."Tanks were going by and Warner Brothers had their plane waiting to get us out," she says.