WATERVILLE — From striding down a catwalk in the early 1960s to posing for Calvin Klein underwear this year, Lauren Hutton’s life as a style icon seems to have no end.

But it’s matched by her career as an actor, from her debut in the 1968 sports drama “Paper Lion” to well-known roles in the ’70s and ’80s to recent appearances on television. With that long list of accomplishments, it’s no surprise the organizers of the Maine International Film Festival decided to honor Hutton, 73, with their Mid-Life Achievement Award.

In her initial reaction to the news, she emailed the Morning Sentinel that she was “thrilled this is a Mid-Life Achievement Award, which means I have a lot to look forward to and accomplish.”

She has not lost sight of the significance of the award she was due to receive Thursday night. She jokingly called it “the mid-life crisis award” Wednesday night after a screening of the 1978 Robert Altman-directed film “A Wedding,” in which she played filmmaker Florence Farmer, and telling the film’s audience that she had described it to friends as the “not dead yet award.”

“The wonderful thing is that means I get to live to be 146,” she said at Railroad Square Cinema, where she participated in a brief question-and-answer session with the audience. “It’s a pretty good thing I got.”

Hutton, who was scheduled to receive her award Thursday night, joins a star-studded list of previous achievement award winners that includes Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Sissy Spacek, Jonathan Demme, Keith Carradine, Walter Hill, Michael Murphy, Jay Cocks, Robert Benton, Peter Fonda, Jos Stelling, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, John Turturro, Thelma Schoonmaker, Malcolm McDowell and Bud Cort. Last year’s recipient was actor Gabriel Byrne, who appeared in films such as “Miller’s Crossing” and “The Usual Suspects.”

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Hutton pursued a modeling career in the ’60s in New York City, overcoming criticism that she was too old, too short and had a gap between her front teeth. Working with celebrated photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, she appeared on numerous magazine covers, including more than 25 times on the cover of Vogue. In 1973 she signed what was the biggest modeling contract up to that time with Revlon.

Hutton’s best-known films are from the 1970s and ’80s and include “The Gambler,” which also stars James Caan; and “Welcome to L.A.,” featuring former MIFF award winners Carradine and Spacek.

Hutton perhaps is best known for her role as the character Michelle in “American Gigolo.” Speaking after the question-and-answer session Wednesday, Hutton said that film’s script was the best she ever worked with. Released in 1980 and arguably a cultural precursor of that decade’s values, the romantic crime film also stars Richard Gere and was written and directed by Paul Schrader.

“They still play it all the time,” she said of the film’s legacy, and it was screened Thursday night at the Waterville Opera House before Hutton received her award.

Hutton flew in from London and was scheduled to fly back out of the country on Friday. While she makes her home now in Taos, New Mexico, she said one of her great passions in life is traveling and that she has been to many foreign locations, including Antarctica. She has been to Maine before, recalling visits to friends in Bath and trips she has made to Maine when she visited Provincetown, Massachusetts.

“I’ve always been a big fan (of Maine) because it’s very eccentric and interesting,” Hutton said.

After the screening of “A Wedding,” Hutton was asked about filming of the movie. She recalled the actual filming taking place in Lake Forest, just outside Chicago.

“We had fun making it,” she said of the movie, which she said took about two or three months to film.

She recalled searching through an old building near the set and finding a basement she would “sneak around in.” There, the woman whose pictures reflected the changing styles of decades found large old picture albums.

“I remember sitting there for hours looking at them,” she told the audience.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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