Chuck Arnold
August 04, 1997 12:00 PM


Director Richard Donner colluded with his producer Joel Silver to coerce Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts to costar in Conspiracy Theory, their thriller opening Aug. 8. “Joel wanted to go to [Gibson’s] office with a crew of carpenters and nail him in until he said yes,” says Donner, 67. “But we didn’t have to do it. Just the threat of that was enough.” Roberts was a bit more difficult. “I got her to come to my hotel suite,” says Donner. “We pushed her and pushed her because we started shooting in a week. She kept saying, ‘Let me call my agent.’ But we couldn’t let her go into the bedrooms and call because that’s where we’d stashed our assistants and the wardrobe lady [awaiting Roberts’s decision]. So finally she just said yes.” Sighs Donner: “That’s how you have to do it in this business.”


Al Roker’s wife, 20/20 correspondent Deborah Roberts, wasn’t surprised to find the Today show weatherman among celebrities identified as aliens in the sci-fi hit Men in Black. “She has been telling people, ‘Of course, he’s an alien. How else would you explain his behavior?’ ” says Roker, 42, whose image appears at the MIB headquarters, along with fellow “aliens” Sylvester Stallone, Dionne Warwick and Newt Gingrich. “She just didn’t want others to know that ours is actually a mixed marriage.” So how did Roker get alienated? “I think they picked people who don’t quite look or act like the rest of us,” he says. “Stallone could be a bug ’cause he’s got that lumpy thing going on. And he exhibits a lot of aggressive, buglike behavior.” As for other aliens in our midst, Roker says, “I would have picked Regis Philbin. I know Regis, and that would explain a lot.”


Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond, known for his dead-on impersonation of President Clinton, among others, even managed to make a good impression after a fire in his New York City apartment in April. “I had 10 firemen in my apartment, everything was destroyed, and one of the firemen says, ‘Hey, you’re on Saturday Night Live,’ ” recalls Hammond, 41. “I said, ‘Yes,’ and this head sticks out from my bedroom, which is now completely charred, and a fireman says, ‘Do me a favor? Do a little Clinton for me?’ They wanted me to do an impression for them on the cusp of disaster!” So did he perform at the fireman’s request? Sure, says Hammond. “I thought, ‘Well, why not?’ But it was bizarre. My friend was with me, and she just looked at me and said, ‘You couldn’t write that.’ ”


Scottish import Billy Connolly left nothing to the imagination when the kilted actor did a skinny-dipping scene in the new period drama Mrs. Brown. “I think nudity is inextricably in my future, but I should be in better shape to do it,” says Connolly, 54, who plays a manservant to Queen Victoria (played by Judi Dench). “My favorite kind of nudity is the stuff on NYPD Blue, especially the little fat guy, Dennis Franz, going naked. That can teach Americans a lot about sensuality.” Connolly remains mystified by Hollywood’s take on body image. “There is a tendency in America for actors to look like swimming-pool attendants,” he says. “Instead of buffing up their bodies, they should buff up their brains.”

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