May 26, 2003 12:00 PM

Cloak and Dapper

Clothes make the man—especially when he’s raging against the machines as a Matrix-fighting hero. “When I first put on the black overcoat, it was really exciting,” says Keanu Reeves, 38, who reprises his role as the mystically endowed Neo in The Matrix Reloaded. “The overcoat has monastic overtones and a lone-wolf aspect to it. It really does inform my character.” Maintaining his trademark look required a closetful of cloaks. “I have something like 23 versions of that costume. Which one I wore depended on the lighting, the fighting, the acting and whether it was raining or not, because each catches light differently,” says Reeves. “It’s the archetypal cape. It’s Superman.”

On the Right Track

Remaking the 1969 caper comedy The Italian Job allowed Charlize Theron to indulge her inner lead foot. “I don’t think of myself as a speed freak, but the freak comes out when it’s encouraged,” says Theron, 27, who muscled a BMW Mini Cooper around a huge traffic jam while filming a chase scene involving nearly 1,000 cars. To prepare, she trained for several weeks at the KRC Racing School at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, Calif. “We were encouraged to push [the Minis] to the limit,” says the actress, who later found it tough to slow down. After the film wrapped she was nailed twice for speeding. “I told both cops about the movie, but it only worked once,” Theron says of getting ticketed. “Sometimes you lose perspective.”

Planting a Seed

The secret is out. For John Cusack the real incentive to make the thriller Identity wasn’t the twist-filled script or the acting challenge. “I wanted to meet Amanda Peet,” says Cusack, 36. “I didn’t know her, and I think she’s really talented. I’m disappointed she doesn’t fall in love with me in the movie. It was a great blow to my ego.” As for his own love life, the bachelor scoffs at rumors that he’s ready to settle down. “I couldn’t be more single,” says Cusack, who has been linked recently to Jennifer Love Hewitt and Meg Ryan. “I need to start by seeing if I can keep a plant alive, and then I’ll go from there.”

Message From Bob

Bob Costas doesn’t mind fielding requests to record answering-machine greetings for fans. “I think all broadcasters get asked that,” says Costas, 51, who is currently hosting the third season of On the Record with Bob Costas. “I’ll do a little voice mail thing, but make it as brief as possible: ‘Hi, this is Bob Costas. I have no idea what I’m doing in Joe’s house. As I rummage through his personal belongings, leave your message.’ ”

Power Trip

In his new comedy Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey is granted omnipotence for a few days. What would the actor do if he were ever given godlike powers in real life? “First of all, I’d send anybody who didn’t like [his 2001 drama] The Majestic to the fiery pit of Hell,” says Carrey. “Then I’d start a new Utopian society where people are made of Nerf material so I could cave the critics’ heads in and nobody would be hurt.”

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