In John Sayles' Baby, It's You, Vincent Spano swept costar Rosanna Arquette and movie audiences off their feet with his good looks and Brooklyn-bred virility. But since then, the 29-year-old star of City of Hope has seen many of his contemporaries catapult past him into the limelight while he toiled away in several low-visibility films by Italian directors (such as Good Morning, Babylon) and Hollywood movies that never quite panned out at the box office (like this spring's Oscar). Spano cites And God Created Woman (1988), in & which he starred with Rebecca DeMornay, as a particular disappointment. ''It was terrible,'' Spano recalls. ''The director, Roger Vadim, just wanted to see how many sexual situations he could put Rebecca into.''
Experiences like that have contributed to Spano's desire to follow peers Jodie Foster and Sean Penn into the director's chair. He is quick to point out, however, that this ambition is more than a reactionary whim. His love for movies began in the mid-'70s, he says, when ''film-school cinemagicians'' such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola were revolutionizing the medium. ''I had pictures of Marty and Francis on my wall and my own Super-8 camera,'' he says. Spano has already written his first screenplay, which he hopes to direct himself. Meanwhile, he keeps acting: This spring he'll appear opposite Laura Dern in the HBO movie Afterburn. For now, Spano is enjoying the critical acclaim his reunion with Sayles has received. ''With a Sayles script, not a word is changed during shooting,'' Spano says. ''It was a great story when I first read it, and it somehow turned out even better.''