IN HIS REVIEW of Amber Heard's new movie, "The Rum Diary," Daily News film critic Gary Thompson referred to Heard as "a dish."

It's an objectifying term, for sure, but one from a previous era - the type of term Alan Ladd might say about Veronica Lake, or Robert Mitchum in referencing Marilyn Monroe.

And it's fitting for Heard, whose beauty and style is from another era.

Yes, she's been on the cover of Maxim, but her image could just as easily be painted on the side of a World War II plane, like Betty Grable, or working for French director Roger Vadim in the 1960s, like Brigitte Bardot.

That's where the 25-year-old Texan thinks she belongs, because she's been "stuck" in the '60s for years, she said at the Four Seasons Hotel on Friday.

"I think it was one of the best eras ever," she said, "for art, music and style. I'm also excited by the rebellious nature of the '60s."

That brings us to "The Rum Diary," written by the rebellious gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and set in 1960s Puerto Rico.

Throw in Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, great clothes and offbeat director Bruce Robinson and, as Heard said, "there was no reason not to take this project."

It was such a dream, Heard said she had to take a breath to take it all in.

"It is work," she said, "so in a weird way it becomes normal. But with every project, I like to take a step back and think how crazy it is that I'm here. With this film I was swimming in a bay in Puerto Rico holding on to a fishing boat with Johnny Depp in it. In another scene, I got lost in beautiful music with very sweaty Puerto Rican dancers. I forgot I was making a movie, I was having so much fun."

Heard couldn't say whether Depp was everything she thought he'd be because she had no preconceived notion what he'd be like.

"In this business," she said, "I've learned to abandon all expectations."

But Johnny Depp? "He's a magnetic force," she said. "Truly special."

So what's Heard's goal? The same as it is for many beautiful actresses: to be seen as more than just a pretty . . . everything.

"I'd like to work in a film not based at all about how I looked, but be my own 3-D character," she said.

She also wants Hollywood to pay more attention to women, as filmgoers and filmmakers, making more films aimed at women and girls.

"It's ridiculous that they negate half the population," she said.

After "Rum," next up is "Syrup" (sort of Heard's own mojito double feature), a satirical, dark comedy about twentysomethings in the world of marketing.

As for the marketing of Amber Heard, there's more than meets the eye.