Maria Conchita Alonso has changed - her look and her outlook.

Not only has she shorn her long mane, she also has shed the glasses that tinted her world a bit too rosy.The rock-star hair ended up on the barber's floor for her role in "Predator II," and her youthful illusions were shattered during the filming of "McBain" in Thailand and the Philippines with co-star Christopher Walken.

"The experience opened my eyes and my soul to lots of things that were always inside of me," says the 34-year-old Cuban-born actress. "Latin America is a paradise compared to the poverty and starvation I saw in those countries."

Despite the suffering, she perceived the Filipinos and the Thais as "always smiling and at peace." They showed her how to "fight for peace and the important aspects of life," says Alonso, who grew up in Venezuela.

And although hair may not seem one of the important aspects, her new gamin-like aspect has become a kind of symbol for the Hollywood star with the difficult name and the easy-going personality.

"I thought I would die when I had to cut it for `Predator,' but now it's me," she says. "I love the way it looks - younger and more sexy."

The new look served her well for "McBain," in which she plays the sister of a Colombian slain by drug lords who, in her search for vengeance, becomes a guerrilla fighter.

Although this latest film follows her pattern of action films like "Running Man," "Colors," "Lethal Weapon" and "Predator II," the role is her most serious to date. "This is a very important movie in my career."

One thing Angela Rodriguez, her manager, is probably happy about is that the incurably romantic Alonso is not in love at present.

"As you grow up you become more selective," adds Alonso. "And I lose so much energy every time I fall in love that I put my career on a second level. I have also learned that I must take control of my own life."