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Unemployment Benefits

Now Hilary Swank fondly recalls the day that Aaron Spelling booted her off Beverly Hills, 90210, but she wasn’t always so grateful. “I was on the eighth season and around the 16th episode, Aaron called me into his office and said, ‘Hilary, it’s not working,’ ” says Swank, 27, currently starring in the thriller Insomnia. “I went home and cried all day, weeping, ‘If I’m not good enough to be on 90210, then I shouldn’t be an actress at all!’ ” Three weeks later she landed her Oscar-winning role in the independent film Boys Don’t Cry. The lesson? “You must trust fate. If I hadn’t been fired, I wouldn’t have been open to take the role,” says Swank, who hopes fate—or nepotism—will lead her back to the small screen. “I want to guest on The West Wing,” says Swank, who is married to actor Chad Lowe. “I bug my brother-in-law Rob about it all the time.”

No Small Sacrifices

Forget about the Porsche. Leave the limo behind. For eco-conscious celebs like Dustin Hoffman, a high-voltage set of wheels is the ideal mode of transport. “I want to get a hybrid car,” says Hoffman, 64, who, while attending the Earth to L.A! II fund-raiser for the National Resources Defense Council recently, watched friends like director Rob Reiner drive up in a vehicle that runs on electricity and gasoline. “Folks like Rob are always bragging about the great gas mileage they get, and I want to start practicing what I am preaching at environmental benefits.” He’s already doing his bit to conserve energy. “We have low-pressure toilets in our house,” says Hoffman, “and I try to do things to be kinder to the environment. I use less toilet paper now than I did a year ago. I am thinking about giving up double ply. My goal is to eventually get to coca leaves.”

Tress Control

For Jill Hennessy, getting her hair expertly coiffed on the set of her NBC series Crossing Jordan sure beats the home beauty treatments of her youth. “One summer my sister and I came up with this hair conditioner made of eggs, beer and mayonnaise,” says Hennessy, 33. “I put it on my hair and I just could not get it out. Not only did my hair smell like bad tuna salad, it looked like I’d poured olive oil over my head.” Her home haircuts didn’t win any beauty contests either. “My sister and I were teased because our mom cut our hair really short, inadvertently creating that Paul McCartney [mop top] look,” says the actress. “People thought we were boys.”

Don’t Call Him in the Morning

Eight years of playing ER’s Dr. John Carter has made Noah Wyle very popular in public places—sometimes for the wrong reasons. Recently the actor found himself on a flight where a fellow traveler appeared to be having a heart attack. “They were calling on the PA for a doctor, and every head snapped directly at me. I thought, ‘Oh, please, no. No, no, no,’ ” says Wyle, 31, currently starring as a misogynistic cop in the thriller Enough. “I only know enough to know that I don’t know anything.” But Wyle, who is expecting his first child with wife Tracy Warbin in November, has picked up plenty of baby know-how on the ER set, mostly from his stuntman. “We had a conversation in the middle of a riot scene, hunkered behind a desk. ‘Okay, you gotta get a Diaper Genie and a baby-wipe warmer,’ ” says Wyle. “People are being thrown over tables, gurneys are being toppled, and we’re talking about warm baby wipes.”