SHORTLY before the Sundance Film Festival's opening-night screening of ``Once Around'' in a downtown movie theater here, star Holly Hunter opened a conversation with a small group of journalists by acknowledging the Persian Gulf war (which had begun a day earlier) and the awkwardness of talking about movies while combat raged in another part of the world. Asked if an actress should choose roles according to their social or political content, however, Ms. Hunter said a policy of hewing to ``message movies'' would be ``too limiting'' for a healthy career. She noted that her ``Once Around'' part, as an insecure young woman yearning for marriage and security at any cost, isn't the ``career-minded woman of the '90s'' that many progressive women would like to see her play. Yet, she said, ``I would bore myself to death playing only politically correct roles.''
So far, her career has included characters across the spectrum, from the active professional of ``Broadcast News,'' to the broadly comic homemaker of ``Raising Arizona,'' and the sentimental love interest of ``Always,'' her last picture. Hunter seems to like things this way, saying ``a wide-ranging selection of women'' is what she hopes to play in years to come.