Samuel L. Jackson partners Bruce Willis in Die Hard with a Vengeance and nearly steals the movie—nothing new for him. “The black audience still recognizes me as the guy who held up a restaurant in Coming to America, or from Jungle Fever,” says Jackson, 46, who played a jiving junkie in the Spike Lee film. “Ten-year-olds yell my Jurassic Park line at me: ‘Hold onto your butt!’ I’m sure parents love me for that.” And since his memorable exchange with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction about ordering hamburgers in France, Jackson finds himself avoiding McDonald’s. “It’s always, ‘Le Big Mac, sir?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, with Le Fries.’ Mostly I go through drive-up windows now.”
MAKE HER DAY
Meryl Streep wasn’t a fan of Robert James Waller’s bestselling romantic novel, The Bridges of Madison County and had no interest in playing the lead role of Francesca in the movie. “What drove me nuts was how Waller described everything and how they felt,” says Streep, 45. Then she got a call from Clint Eastwood, who was directing and starring in the movie. “My friend Carrie Fisher gave Clint my home number,” says Streep. “He growled, ‘I hear you didn’t like the book.’ Pause. I said, ‘No, no! It’s just that I wasn’t destroyed by it, like everyone else.’ He said, ‘Read the script. It’s good.’ The force of his voice over the phone made me say, ‘Okay, Clint. I bet it is good.’ He sent it the next day, and it was wonderful.” The result: She said yes to the role, and 10 months later, Bridges is a critical hit, a box office winner and may get her an Oscar nomination.
Until Chris O’Donnell shot the recently released Mad Love and the forthcoming Batman Forever back to back with Drew Barrymore, 20, he knew his coquettish costar only by reputation. “I was in Ireland filming Circle of Friends,” says O’Donnell, 24, “when I heard, ‘Drew got married!’ Then a few weeks later, ‘Drew got divorced!’ Sheesh. I didn’t know what to expect when I finally met her.” But now O’Donnell has a full report. “She’s a real sweet girl,” he says. “It’s funny, because we’re polar oppo-sites as far as taste and upbringing. I shop retail. She’s Miss Thrift Shop. I come from this close-knit, midwestern, conservative upbringing. She’s had this crazy childhood. But now, I talk to her all the time. We get along really well.”
ROLLING IN THE DOUGH
Gravel-voiced Cathy Moriarty revels in her role as the villain of the hit comedy Casper. “My voice, it’s not something that comes out of a little girl,” says Moriarty, 34, who hit Hollywood at 19 as Raging Bull’s blonde bombshell from The Bronx. “You don’t cast me as a waif. I’m good as a selfish, greedy, nasty character without one redeeming quality, even though I’m actually very nice.” Her customers at Mulberry Street Cafe, the L.A. pizzeria she opened in 1990 with longtime beau Richie Palmer, would agree. “What do most actors do when they’re not working?” asks Moriarty. “Therapy. Me, I’m a really good cook. I do eggplant and meatballs you wouldn’t believe. The place is usually full, and it makes a ton of money too. So if I don’t get a movie, it’s okay.”