Chuck Arnold
May 01, 2000 12:00 PM

Performance Anxiety

Doing a lap dance in the new heist drama Where the Money Is, sultry actress Linda Fiorentino used all her feminine wiles to try to rouse 75-year-old Paul Newman out of his fake vegetative state. “But Paul never even cracked a smile when I was doing the dance, says Fiorentino, 42. “I was insulted. I thought I’d lost my touch. I gave him everything I had, and at the end of the day he apologized to me for not being more responsive. He said, ‘I don’t want you to take it personally, Linda. I was just doing my job.’ ” At least Fiorentino was able to joke about it. “Yes, all men should be in comas when we make love to them,” she says. “They won’t speak, they won’t complain, they won’t ask for more!”

Minnie Me

Despite appearing in more than 10 films, Minnie Driver says that she still gets confused with another movie actress. “People think I’m Janeane Garofalo,” says Driver, 30, who costars in the new romantic comedy Return to Me. “It’s become something of a joke. I don’t know what it is. That we both have dark hair?” But Driver has learned the hard way not to try to fool her fans. And her less-than-fans. “People also go, ‘You look a lot like Minnie Driver,’ ” she says. “Once I said, Thanks, Minnie is a great actress.’ But it blew up in my face. This person said, ‘Nan, didn’t like the last movie she did.’ ”

Psyched Out

British actor Christian Bale, who plays a serial killer in the controversial new thriller American Psycho, thinks that some of his peers were scared off by the role. “It’s a shame when you get very good actors who are aware of their public perception, and they blur the line [between] the characters they play and their own personalities,” says Bale, 26. “They can’t take parts that make them look bad. They’re worried a movie will be harmful to their image.” Bale’s own image got a burnish, however, when he played Jesus in the 1999 TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus. “It was offered to me six weeks after I wrapped American Psycho,” he says. “I couldn’t resist it. I thought it was the only way I could atone for playing a serial killer.”

The Honeymoon Is Over

Edward Norton, who directed, produced and costars in the new romantic comedy Keeping the Faith, still has trouble coping with certain aspects of fame. “I am the most private person I know,” says Norton, 30. “But I am an actor. I ‘do this for the people, and the people want to know about me. Once in an interview someone even asked me, ‘What is your blood type?’ ” At least the actor’s stardom has finally put an end to all the jokes he used to hear about Ed Norton, the Hon-eymooners character played by Art Carney, “Actually my father had it worse,” he says. “He would get, ‘Hey, I love The Honeymooners!’ I would occasionally get someone who would hear my name and scream, ‘To the moon, Alice!’ ”

Best Defense

Now and Again’s Dennis Haysbert, who costars in the new sports drama Love and Basketball, says that he passed up hoops for acting in high school. “Basketball always [conflicted] with the theater season,” says Haysbert, 45, “and I was always involved in theater.” The actor, who played football and ran track, says that the decision didn’t hurt his standing. “Actually I got a great deal of respect for it,” he says. “It showed off that ‘sensitive side,’ so the girls liked it. And whatever problems the guys had with it were soon dashed when we were out on the football field. I was a defensive end, so if any of them had anything to say, they would be duly punished.”

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