PHANTOM OF THE OPERA star Emmy Rossum had no qualms about falling for a disfigured monster in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical because she's never turned on by good looks.

The former opera star-turned-actress insists she's more likely to date an ugly man with a good heart than a hunk, so she had no problems understanding her character CHRISTINE's feelings for a ghoul.

She says, "The themes are about love and compassion and the understanding of people who look different and are different.

"Right now, in the world, I think that compassion is something we need a little bit more of. That was the one quality about Christine that I really identified with.

"I was brought up with that compassion and understanding of different people. One of my best friends was born with a craniafacial deformity. She's had 24 operations since she was born to try to make her look conventionally normal, as she would like to.

"I just see her and like her because she is a wonderful person inside. That's always been something that I look for. Guys aren't gonna have six packs by the time they're 50, so I look for something a little bit more than that."

30/12/2004 01:09