Despite winning four Emmys, four Golden Globes and an Oscar, Helen Hunt has had a rocky relationship with the nation's TV-film critics. First, there was the media backlash surrounding Mad About You's final, turgid seasons (for which Hunt and leading man Paul Reiser netted $1 million per episode). And more recently, reviewers crucified the 38-year-old former child star for her participation in last year's poorly received drama Pay It Forward.

Well, just as Hunt has no regrets about extending her honeymoon with Reiser on NBC in the late '90s, she also makes nary an apology for signing on to play a single mom who falls for a disfigured Kevin Spacey in Forward. "This is just my feeling," she sheepishly tells TV Guide Online, "but there are parts of that movie that I am really proud of and that I really love."

While many critics saw the Mimi Leder-directed pic as a manipulative tear-jerker, Hunt felt her and Spacey's Beauty and the Beast romance broke new ground. "I haven't seen that love story on film before," she maintains. "To me — at least from the inside out — I reached into an area and tried to build a character that was a little farther out than I had gone. And I sort of believed in what I did — at least what it felt like."

Still, Hunt — whose upcoming role in Woody Allen's Curse of the Jade Scorpion (opening Aug. 17) will likely put her back in critics' good graces — concedes that she knew going in that Forward "might be a really fun movie to hate," adding that, "I talked to people who love it — really cool, smart people. And [also] really cool smart people who clearly didn't."