THERE ARE KISSES AND THEN THERE ARE kisses—rock-your-world, paperback-romance kisses that set hearts aflutter and make knees buckle under. Such was the case when surprise Best Actor winner Adrien Brody leapt onstage at this year’s Oscars and embraced presenter Halle Berry for what seemed like forever. “He’s a wet kisser,” says Berry. “I didn’t kiss back at all.” Of course, “I didn’t stop him either!” Later that night, Brody explained his impulsive move. “If you ever have an excuse to do something like that, that was it,” he declared. “I took my shot.”
Who can blame him? One year after her historic Best Actress win for her gritty portrayal of a struggling waitress in Monster’s Ball, the star with the silk-pie skin and to-die-for body says she has “evolved into this woman that feels very confident in who she is.” It shows. Berry, 36, a former catalog model and Miss USA first runner-up (Note to judges: Oops!), seems to get more gorgeous with every passing year. Slipping into a tight bodysuit as mutant weather girl Storm in X2: X-Men United, the new sequel to the ’00 megahit, she even manages to make a white wig look sexy. (“It’s bad enough I’ve got to wear white hair with my dark skin,” she says. “But the style is more layered this time. I welcomed the softening change.”)
Now is definitely prime time for Halle. “Boy, does she know how to work with what she has, and she’s got a lot,” says producer Joel Silver, who has worked with her on four films. Adds Pierce Brosnan, her leading man in last year’s Bond offering, Die Another Day: “She’s got the most gorgeous face that you just want to dive into, the most gorgeous body that you just want to embrace.” And John Travolta, Berry’s costar in the ’01 thriller Swordfish, says, “Her talent is equal to her beauty. Halle is completely real, and you immediately want to support her survival. She’s strong but very vulnerable at the same time.”
Berry capitalizes on those contradictions to glide between just-for-fun roles and art-house Oscar bait. Now in Montreal filming the horror flick Gothika with Robert Downey Jr., “she has cracked the ability to be taken seriously and not just as another pretty girl,” says Lee Tamahori, who directed her in Die Another Day. “She’s now in that exalted level of American female actors who can command anything she wants.”
More often than not, what she wants is free time to spend with her husband, R&B singer Eric Benét, 36, and his 11-year-old daughter India, whom she adopted after marrying Benét in ’01. (India’s biological mother, Tami Stauff, died in a ’93 car accident.) “India has been a great addition to my life, because I no longer just focus on me,” Berry says. “Before she came into my life, I was about work, work, work. Now I get to really focus on what’s important. And we get to play.”
Not that married life has been all fun and games. During the past year, Berry and Benét have had to repeatedly confront talk of trouble. Although Benét previously has admitted to “mistakes,” Berry says the union is solid: “He has brought me a lot of joy.” Still, she acknowledges, “all marriages are challenging. We’re grateful that we’re dealing with some heavy issues early, and hopefully we’ll get them behind us and move on.” Adds Benét, who got to know Berry after one of his concerts in 1997 and wed her in a beachside ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif., before just two friends: “I’m a much better person because of her love.”
Berry also praises the benefits of counseling. “I’ve been in therapy my whole life,” she says. “Eric could well have said, ‘You know what? This is too much work.’ But I have a partner who is willing to do the hard work. Going to therapy and working out our problems is a must.” Another marital imperative: a regular “date night.” “It can be at a restaurant, it can be in the bathtub, it can be by the pool, in the Jacuzzi,” Berry says. “Usually there’s a bottle of wine involved. It’s just about connecting.”
Connecting has been an ongoing theme in Berry’s relationships, going back to her difficult childhood in and around Cleveland. The younger daughter of Judith, 63, a retired nurse who is white, and Jerome, an African-American hospital attendant who died in January, Berry and her sister Heidi were called “zebra” and “Oreo” by neighborhood kids. But the actress credits her mom—who raised the girls solo after Jerome left the family when Halle was 4—with instilling an inner strength. “She never wanted me to focus on my physical self,” recalls Berry, who remains very close to her mother. “My mom always said, ‘Beauty is what you do.’ ”
One thing she wasn’t able to do was reconcile with her father—who she says abused her mother—before his death. (He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.) Long estranged from him, she spent years blaming her father’s abuse and absence for her own problems with men. But his passing, she says, has brought her unexpected comfort. “I feel like now I can really talk to him in a strange kind of way,” she says. “I think I’m a lot closer to him now than I ever was when he was alive.”
Growing up, Berry says, she struggled to fit in. Most of the time, “I was just trying to be liked,” says the former class president, honor student, school newspaper editor and prom queen, allowing, “I was always trying to overcompensate for being different.” Even as a big-haired teen in the ’80s, Berry stood out. “No girl looks good in a band uniform,” says Amy Jorgensen, her classmate at Bedford High School, “but Halle was gorgeous.” Berry recalls her teenage look differently: “My face was so full that to this day my husband thinks I had a nose job.” Plus, “I was always trying to straighten my hair. I haven’t had long hair in so long, and that’s why! I don’t know any trick for straightening.”
But then, Berry never much needed tricks to gain notice. After graduation, a boyfriend submitted her photo to a state beauty pageant. “We didn’t have a lot, so initially I saw dollar signs,” she says. “But then I felt really empowered after winning.” After competing for Miss USA in ’86, she eventually moved to L.A. to pursue a showbiz career. In ’91 she scored her first film role in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, despite rejection along the way. “You hear, ‘No, you’re black, and we don’t want to go black,’ ” she says. “It was frustrating. You know you’re going to be black until the day you die.” The “too pretty thing,” as she calls it, “got to be old too. Especially as I started to grow and go through all kinds of trials. I’m like, ‘I’ve lived this! I’ve been down and out, I know what this is!’ ”
One of those trials landed Berry in the news in ’00, when she pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges after leaving the scene of a car accident. She also is a veteran of abusive relationships. One boyfriend hit her so hard she lost 80 percent of her hearing in one ear, and she went through a bitter ’97 divorce from former baseball pro David Justice after three years of marriage. “The hardest part,” she says, “is trying to convince people, ‘Hey, I’m just like you. I got that wrong, but next time I’ll get it right.’ ”
She says she tries to avoid too much self-criticism. “Drama follows me,” she says. “I’m a drama magnet. People will try to find something to add controversy to everything that I do. I’ve come to terms with that.” Motherhood, though, has added a new dimension to her sense of self. “Probably the most unnerving part of being a mother is I know India watches everything I do, everything I say,” notes Berry. “Even though I didn’t squeeze her from my body, this little person loves me unconditionally.” As for future kids, she says simply, “I hope so.”
Three-time costar Hugh Jackman lauds Berry’s generosity toward her family—and his. “She met my mother-in-law once on the Swordfish set,” he says. “I brought her on-set for X2, and Halle said, ‘Hi, Faye, how are you doing?’ She remembered her name—it was extraordinary, two years later. Halle is the most down-to-earth person.”
That’s refreshing for an actress with one of the most out-of-this-world bodies in Hollywood. (When asked to name his wife’s best feature, Benét struggles. “How could I pick one?” he asks. “It’s all lovely. You look at the feet, the back of the arm. It’s complete.”) “I’m not obsessive, like I have to have the best butt or the best abs, but I like the idea of feeling strong and healthy,” Berry says. Doing nude scenes—whether the sexy shocker in Swordfish or the graphic sex scene in Monster’s Ball—has made her feel “wiser and more comfortable with my womanhood,” she says. “It’s important to feel good about myself physically. It’s something I think about.” To that end, she follows a fitness program that gets the best results from the least amount of time. “I’m down to 20 minutes!” Berry says of her daily treadmill-and-weights workout routine. “You are going nonstop. My heart rate is well above 170 the whole time. At the end, I feel like I’ve done something really challenging.”
Even more rigorous is Berry’s strict diet, which centers around chicken, fish, veggies, brown rice and tabbouleh. In 1989 she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which impairs the body’s ability to either produce enough insulin or use insulin properly. To maintain her energy and prevent complications, she must test her blood-sugar levels daily—”On my fingers; it’s not bad”—and follow a no-sugar diet. “I don’t eat carbs a lot,” she says, “mainly because I don’t really like them.”
It takes more than treadmill time and tabbouleh to craft the Halle Berry who always manages to look perfectly put together on the red carpet. A technician at the Four Seasons hotel in L.A. “waxes every place where there’s hair other than on my head,” says Berry. Then there’s her signature cropped do, which she’s about to let grow “just out of sheer boredom. But I love short hair because I’m really lazy when it comes to fussing with it.” And don’t forget her impeccable fashion choices, which she makes with input from her husband and daughter. “We say yea, nay, what we like and what we don’t,” she says. “I’ve learned that although stylists are great, to really go with my own sense of what’s right for me.” Berry also intends to follow her instincts about plastic surgery. “I don’t think so, but I’ll never say never,” she explains, describing herself as “very imperfect but okay with my imperfections.” Such as? “Where do I start? I would get a nose job”—plus “a boob lift.”
Instead of dreaming up flaws, however, she prefers to direct her energy to having “good old-fashioned fun” at the L.A. home she shares with her family and their two Maltese, Polly and Willy. “I like to sit back and watch cartoons with India,” she says. (SpongeBob SquarePants is a favorite.) “I go to India’s soccer games and bring the donuts because that’s what a mom does. That connects me with my childhood again and it’s helped me not take being an adult so seriously.” Her primary vices: the occasional Popeye’s fried chicken run and a morning Java jolt. In general, says, “mornings are when I gather my thoughts and have quiet time.”
For Berry, that hard-won serenity is to be savored. “I feel like right now, I sort of have what ‘having it all’ really is, and that’s a career I feel satisfied with, a marriage, a family that is ever growing, my health and hope for the future. It’s not perfection, it’s not a fairy tale,” she says firmly. “It’s real.”
ALWAYS A HEADLINER
Although her naturally curly locks are usually cut short, Berry has experimented with length, style and color (check her out as a blonde!)
1992 “Really natural and reflective of who I am.”
1993 Tired of short hair, “I went the other direction.”
1996 A headbanded “growing-out phase.”
1997 Wigged out for a role, “I was having fun.”
1998 In braids: “I was bored with everything.”
1999 “Honey blonde: one of my favorite periods.”
2001 “Trying something different” with a wave.
2002 Fresh from being a Bond girl, flippy and fun.
2003 Today’s do: “I realize I’m a short-hair person.”
RED-CARPET MOMENTS: HALLE LOOKS BACK
GOLDEN GLOBES 2002
Berry describes this cocoa Valentino as “really romantic.”
SAG AWARDS 2002
Her snowy William Ivey Long gown “made me feel like an angel. Very angelic.”
This Elie Saab “was innovative and daring, and that’s sort of what my career’s been about.”
LONDON PREMIERE 2002
In Oscar de la Renta, “I felt very regal. Just classic old Hollywood.
BAMBI AWARDS 2002
“That was my Grecian goddess dress,” Berry says of this Valentino frock.
SAG AWARDS 2003
“I felt really fresh and clean” in this chiffon Armani, says Berry. “Really simple.”
Berry decided to wear Elie Saab again, “to pay homage to last year.”
THE BERRY LOOK
To soften and smooth, “I have my own paraffin wax system at home, and I use it couple of times a week on my feet, my hands, my elbows. It’s really good.” As for sun care, “I don’t seek the sun out, but I don’t avoid it either.” She uses Ole Henriksen SPF lotion, plus a regular dousing in La Mer’s body lotion. “I use gobs of it,” she says. “I just slather it on after a shower when I’m still kind of wet.”
Manicures at the Four Seasons spa in L.A., along with vitamin E on her cuticles, help keep her hands healthy. “I always go natural,” she says. “I’m not one for polish.”
“I don’t like washing it every day, just because I think it’s drying.” Her must-have style aid: Bumble and Bumble styling wax—”just a little when it’s dry.” Plus, “I sometime use Lottabody wrapping lotion. I just rub it in my hair when it’s wet to take the curl down a bit.”
LIPS AND EYES
Berry, a Revlon model, skips eye shadow but uses the company’s extra-lengthening mascara, along with limited-edition Berry Avenger lipstick. “We test things out, and what works best on me ends up with my name. Sometimes I’ll put [Elizabeth Arden’s] Eight Hour Cream on top of the lipstick so you get the dual moisture and shine; it’s almost like a gloss. That’s how I go out most of my days.”
WHEN ASHTON KUTCHER WAS growing up in Homestead, Iowa, his older sister Tausha liked messing with him. “I would fall asleep and wake up in full makeup!” he says. “Can you imagine how scary that was for a little kid, to wake up with lipstick, eye shadow and mascara?” There were no lasting effects. “I’m a guy’s guy,” says Kutcher, 25, who now makes his own mischief playing pranks on celebrities in MTV’s Punk’d. “I don’t comb my hair unless I have to, and I don’t use lotions or fancy shampoos. My mom used to work at Procter & Gamble, and we used to get free shampoo. I was never picky about that stuff. So why start changing things now?” Even when he does try to change, things don’t always work out for the 6’3″ star of That ’70s Show. “I lifted weights for about two months,” he says. “I thought I’d get all beefed up, but my friends were like, ‘Dude, you look just the same.’ ” He has been equally unsuccessful growing a beard, which he had to do for his upcoming film The Butterfly Effect. “I had patchy holes on the side of my face,” he says. “But it still ended up in the movie, so you’ll see when it comes out in September.” His diet could also use a little filling in. “I don’t take my vegetables and I don’t take my vitamins unless I’m sick,” he says, admitting that he subsists on “tons of taffy.” Single again after breaking up with Just Married costar Brittany Murphy last month, Kutcher says there’s a lot more to him than a healthy metabolism, though. “I don’t think my physical attributes are my best attributes,” he says. “But people do say I have nice eyelashes. I have a double row.”
HER KIDS HATED THE PROSTHETIC NOSE SHE wore for The Hours. But when Nicole Kidman, 35, clutched her statuette on Oscar night, she basked in the wisdom she’d learned as a teenager. “As an actress, the way you look cannot be your identity,” she says. “Once you learn that, it frees you.” With her natural corkscrew curls and buttermilk skin, Kidman “was always a knockout,” says director Sydney Pollack, a longtime friend. “But she’s gained poise and stability. It’s wonderfully exciting to see her taken seriously and that people have gotten past all the other things.” Kidman has a string of strong roles in the can: a Civil War soldier’s sweetheart in Cold Mountain, Anthony Hopkins’s lover in The Human Stain and a 1930s fugitive in Dogville. And though the 5’10” actress has been getting even sleeker lately (“She’s so incredibly long and elegant,” says Hours costar Julianne Moore), her appeal continues to grow. “Nicole has authenticity,” says Hollywood stylist Jane Ross. “That’s why she’s so divine. Her beauty isn’t from a bottle.”
PRETTY BOY? FORGET IT. “I DON’T think it’s dignified for a man to be like, you know, primping himself and pulling out his eyebrow hairs and having facial cleansers,” Ben Affleck has said. “If the payoff for that is that I’m a little scruffy, that’s okay.” While a visit to a day spa may still not be on his list of favorite things, Affleck, 30, has been trying to take better care of the body he poured into red leather to play a superhero in February’s Daredevil. At the prompting of his clean-living fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, Affleck, who quit drinking in 2001, has traded in his cigarettes for Nicorette gum and has also followed J.Lo’s lead when it comes to exercise, joining her on morning workout sessions with trainer Gunnar Peterson. “They’re a great support system for each other,” says Peterson. “They get here, they warm up and then it’s go, go, go the entire time.” Despite his increasingly chiseled look, Affleck, 6’2″, can still seem like a softy. “When you look into his eyes and see that smile, you know he’s a genuinely lovely guy,” says Daredevil producer Avi Arad. He has also been a busy one: Coming up are two movies with Lopez—August’s Gigli and November’s Jersey Girl—and he is currently filming Paycheck with Uma Thurman, for which he’s earning $15 million. “He’s dead-on gorgeous and down-to-earth,” says Daredevil‘s Colin Farrell. “He deserves everything that has happened to him.”
OH, TO BE RICH, FAMOUS AND 21. YOUNG ENOUGH to try anything but old enough to not have to explain yourself. One day you can smooch Colin Farrell, the next you can attend the 22nd-birthday party of an old beau from a certain boy band. At the drop of a super-chic newsboy cap, you can chop off your blonde hair and dye it brown just to mix things up a little. You can spend one night in Vegas, betting thousands at the blackjack table, and another in New York City, crashing in your $3.8 million condo after a marathon of nightclub dancing. Of course, part of growing up is also learning to know your limits. “My No. 1 beauty secret is lots and lots of sleep,” says Britney Spears. “Eight hours a night, and I’m a big believer in naps.” Any difficulty with nodding off and she has a favorite remedy. “I wish I could stop eating so much ice cream,” says Spears. “I’ll stupidly wake up and eat it at night because it helps me sleep, but I need to stop doing that.” Aside from scolding herself for her Cookies & Cream binges and neglecting to take her vitamins, the 5’4″ Spears is making an effort to take good care of herself. “I’m trying to do my yoga, eat my veggies and drink lots of water,” she says. Getting ready to release her fourth album in October, Spears also sticks to a routine of biweekly manicures and pedicures (“I usually go for baby pink”) and goes through tube after tube of Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1. “I probably like my lips most out of all my features,” she says. “Every boyfriend I’ve had has complimented me on them.”
CAUTION: BEING FRIENDS WITH Jennifer Lopez may cause damage to self-esteem. “I am always aware of my hangnails when I’m around her,” says pal Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, a partner at Revolution Studios. “Her nails and toes always look great, she has gorgeous skin, and she always looks fresh. But she’s not one of those people who says, ‘I look like this naturally.’ She tends to herself.” And how. Circuit training, weight lifting, frequent facials and manicures, and an avoidance of junk food, coffee and alcohol. In the past year Lopez, 33, has opened her own restaurant, launched a fragrance and racked up $65 million in sales from her clothing line. She also released her third multiplatinum album, This Is Me…Then, and was a box office darling with Maid in Manhattan. Anyone else might show signs of wear, but the 5’6″ performer “is so stunning she stops you in your tracks,” says her Manhattan costar Marissa Matrone. “Even in that drab little gray maid’s uniform she glows.” While her Shiseido Super Revitalizer and her Dior self-tanner are effective, J.Lo’s radiance has a lot more to do with the 6.1-carat pink diamond on her left hand. “I’m in love,” fiancé Ben Affleck told Vanity Fair in March. “She impresses me every day.”
HERE ARE SOME HONORS AWARDED TO GEORGE Clooney in the past year:
•He was named the sexiest star in television history by TV Guide editors.
•He was voted the person most Welsh people would want to be stuck in a queue with.
•According to an online dating poll, most female respondents would like to indulge in a Valentine’s Day fantasy with him.
•He was named the most kissable man in Hollywood by a Harlequin Enterprises survey.
•Wrigley’s found that he was the man most people would like to share a piece of gum with.
•In a Braun ThermoScan survey, most women chose him as their preferred celebrity health-care provider.
(In the interest of space, we can’t go on. Apologies to the W Hotel people, the British sandwich people and all the others.)
What is it about the 5’11”, 42-year-old Clooney that, after nearly a decade at the top of his game, still captivates both neurotic American gum-chewers and the mellow people in Wales who don’t mind waiting in line? Understandably, Clooney’s friends closely guard his secret (though they’ve mentioned something about his eyes, his smile and his sense of humor). If you happen to figure it out, perhaps you should tell the grape juice manufacturers, salad dressing makers and suntan lotion purveyors so they can bottle it.
AS THE YOUNGEST OF FOUR, KATIE Holmes often received unsolicited advice. “One of my sisters always reminds me to thank her for the suggestion to grow my bangs out in eighth grade,” says Holmes. “She said I looked like a big dork with bangs. She was right.” Today, the 24-year-old actress can fend for herself. She’s up to speed on Armani cosmetics, her favorite—”You don’t feel like you have a lot of makeup on,” she says. And she knows how to work a look. “If the company’s worth impressing, I’ll wear the heels,” she says. The 5’9″ star of Dawson’s Creek has spent much of the past five years in Wilmington, N.C., where the show filmed. Now that the final episode is in the can, Holmes can look forward to spending more time in L.A. with her boyfriend of three years, actor Chris Klein. And in between movie roles—a turn in April’s Phone Booth, September’s Pieces of April and October’s The Singing Detective—there should be more time for her favorite indulgence. “I’m terrible at manicures because I get bored,” she says. “But I do love pedicures.”
HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT AT age 5, and at 12 he appeared in his first film. Two years ago The New York Times called him “one of the great flamenco dancers of this new century.” He was 18. Looking more like a brooding runway model than a master of the centuries-old art form, the 5’6″ Farruquito (real name: Juan Manuel Fernández) has made the dance of his native Seville, Spain, the volcanic center of his life. “My dancing is quite savage,” he says. “It’s wild.” To counter the toll it takes on his body, he turns to massages and the occasional hot bath. Farruquito began dancing at age 3, mentored by his grandfather, whose death in 1997, followed by that of his father in 2001, resulted in a yearlong break. Now back performing and teaching, he has little time for dating, but hopefuls keep trying. “I’ve had to change the telephone number four times!” says his mother, María Rosario Montoya Manzano. Even if they could get through, what would they say? “Farruquito’s beauty is so strong,” says his aunt, Pilar Montoya Manzano, “that people are generally left speechless.”
WHEN SHE WAS IN HIGH school, Susan Sarandon “went around squinting, trying to make my eyes smaller,” she says. “I didn’t realize they were a good feature. I just knew they made people talk.” Four decades later the 5’6″ Oscar-winning actress and activist can still spark a conversation. During filming of last year’s The Banger Sisters in L.A., “all the guys on the crew thought she was hot,” says director Bob Dolman. Sarandon’s daughter Eva Amurri gets an earful too. “People say, ‘Your mom keeps getting more beautiful,’ ” she says. “I think she has figured out exactly what she needs to be doing.” And just what might that be? Sarandon, 56, cops to using Tracie Martyn’s Firming Serum on her face and drinking Gary Null’s Green Stuff, a chlorophyll-rich dehydrated juice she believes benefits the skin. But the mother of Miles, 11, and Jack, 13, with partner Tim Robbins rarely wears makeup and jokes that steaming her face over pasta has gotten her through the last 25 years. “She is very unfussy,” says longtime friend Geena Davis. “Even at the Oscars I don’t remember her ever looking in a mirror.”
MOVIEGOERS WHO CAUGHT AN UNCANNY family resemblance in the cast of last year’s The Banger Sisters weren’t hallucinating. Susan Sarandon’s bratty daughter Ginger was played by the actress’s oldest child, Eva Amurri, in her first major movie role. “People tell me I’m the spitting image of my mother,” says the New York City high school senior. “But I think I look more like my father [Italian director Franco Amurri]. I just seem more like my mother.” Mandy Moore, Amurri’s costar in the upcoming Saved, admires her pal’s “cool, tom-boyish style. Eva’s beautiful without trying.” Although she is set on an acting career, the 5’9½” Amurri plans to start college in the fall and is considering studying languages and creative writing. “I feel strongly about not majoring in acting,” she says. “I want to concentrate on what I find interesting.” Observes Sarandon: At 18, “Eva has more of a sense of her own voice than I had at 35.”
WHAT CAN’T SHE PULL OFF? AT THE OSCARS LAST March, Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Supporting Actress for her work in Chicago—and had the fearlessness to belt out “I Move On” with Queen Latifah in front of 33 million viewers in her eighth month of pregnancy. “To watch her go through that nerve-wracking experience was tough,” says husband Michael Douglas. “I was just so proud of her.” Last month, she and Douglas got another vote of confidence by winning a much-publicized court case against Britain’s Hello! magazine, which ran unauthorized photos of their 2000 wedding. Zeta-Jones was even able to get the release of her next film, Intolerable Cruelty, pushed back until the fall. “They moved the date from spring because I would have been in labor,” says Zeta-Jones, 33, who gave birth to 6-lb. 12-oz. daughter Carys on April 20. “It was like, ‘Oh, guys, do I really have to go on the David Letterman show when I’m nine months pregnant?’ ” Viewers wouldn’t have minded. The 5’8″ actress “is beyond beautiful,” says her Cruelty costar Cedric the Entertainer. “It’s the combination of the dark eyes and full, soft lips.” But those aren’t her best attributes, he says. “She has a great big laugh. She just lets loose when she laughs and doesn’t care what it looks like.”
FOR THE JUST RELEASED X-MEN 2, DIRECTOR Bryan Singer wanted Wolverine to appear sleeker and more feral than he was the first time around. So Hugh Jackman worked with a trainer—and a nutritionist. “I think they were afraid that an Aussie’s idea of a diet was going from 10 beers a day to six,” says Jackman, 34. “I had to cut out bread and most sugars, but it really helped my energy level from day one.” The regimen clearly did the trick for the 6’2″ actor, who next takes on the role of a Victorian vampire hunter in Van Helsing, opposite Kate Beckinsale. “He wasn’t one bit flabby,” says Singer, admitting that “even a flabby Hugh Jackman would be eye candy.” Costar Kelly Hu elaborates: “He’s tall, which is rarer than you might think in Hollywood. He has a great chest and arms. And he has that hair that always looks the right amount out of place.” Best of all, she says, “it’s obvious that he isn’t working at his good looks.” Not that he’s unaware of them. “When is he most cute?” asks Jackman’s wife, actress and director Deborra-Lee Furness. “When he’s showing me his butt as he walks up the stairs. He’s just a show-off!”
NOT MANY WOMEN CAN PULL OFF A MUSTACHE and a unibrow. But those weren’t the hairiest challenges Salma Hayek laced in her eight-year quest to make Frida. More impressive: Hayek’s development from bombshell to respected Oscar-nominated actress and producer. “Because Salma is beautiful and has a great body, people often assume she doesn’t have brains,” says her pal and costar Mia Maestro. “It is amazing to see how little by little she does exactly what she wants.” The 5’2″ former Mexican soap star “knows she is sexy and isn’t afraid to be sexy,” observes Alfred Molina, who played Frida’s Diego Rivera. “But she doesn’t flutter her eyelashes or show her cleavage to get her way.” Hayek, 36, relied on intelligence, tenacity and a script revision by boyfriend Edward Norton to get the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo onscreen. But the actress’s softer charms still hold sway. Molina, for one, was taken with her “dark lush hair, lovely deep eyes with a sparkle in the corner, cute little ears and strong jawline,” he says. “She is curvy and delicate and dresses well and smells good. She’s like an expensive present in a great box.”
GROOMING IS A CINCH FOR DANIEL DAY-LEWIS. “I get ready pretty quickly,” he says, “It is certainly easy from the hair point of view. I’m very low-maintenance.” When it comes to getting into character, however, the 46-year-old actor will do whatever it takes. While Leonardo DiCaprio took the hair-extension route for his role in Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis was a do-it-yourselfer—growing his own long hair, plus sideburns and handlebar mustache. Back in 1997, the actor tattooed his hand himself for his starring role in The Boxer. And he lost 30 lbs. to play In the Name of the Father‘s jailed activist. The 6’2″ Day-Lewis is well known for his meticulous preparation—learning to paint with a brush held between his toes for My Left Foot, spending six months in the wild before shooting The Last of the Mohicans—but in his private life he is not an overachiever. His recent five-year hiatus was spent largely in Ireland (he’s part Irish) raising his two sons with wife Rebecca Miller, who will direct his next film, Rose and the Snake. One of his favorite pastimes, Day-Lewis told W, is “to sit and stare out the window endlessly.”
IT CERTAINLY IS HER DAY, her month and even her year. Last summer Jennifer Aniston received terrific reviews for her work in The Good Girl. Next she won a lead actress Emmy for Friends and agreed (with her cast-mates) to give the series another, and likely final, year. Now she’s about to appear as Jim Carrey’s girlfriend in this month’s Bruce Almighty. “She was a dream choice,” says director Tom Shadyac. “You’re looking for someone who’s beautiful, funny, sexy, intelligent, vulnerable.” The 5’5″ Aniston, he adds, “is perfect in her naturalness.” Given her recent successes, exactly how unaffected is the 34-year-old actress? “She’s no different than the person she was 15 years ago,” says longtime friend Kathy Najimy. “Her clothes are the exact same, her T-shirts, her little tank tops, her cargo pants and her flip-flops.” (J. Crew is the preferred brand for these.) She dresses the part of a celeb when called upon, she told Vogue, because “I have to do it; it’s part of the deal in terms of looking fabulous and—good God—never wearing the same thing twice and all of those things.” But really, says her Bruce Almighty costar Lisa Ann Walter, “she’s one of us. She’s just the nicest chick. You just want to go, ‘You’re not really a big, huge star!’ ”
ARRIVING AT THE SIX FEET UNDER SET STRAIGHT out of the shower, “I pretty much look like Shaggy on Scooby-Doo” says Peter Krause (pronounced KROW-zuh). Nonsense, says costar Rachel Griffiths: “Physically he’s pretty perfect.” What’s more, “he’s hilariously funny and has a deep, wandering philosopher’s mind. There’s not a lazy molecule in his brain.” Nor in his 6’1″ frame, which Krause, 37, likes to keep moving by backpacking, hiking, surfing and pushing his 18-month-old son Roman in a Baby Jogger. “Now that I’m a dad, I’m not taking as many risks as I used to,” says the once avid mountain climber, who recalls scaling the north face of Mount Shasta. “It’s glacier all the way,” he says. “You confront your fears, and the physical exertion does something nice to your mind.” Very nice, according to his longtime girlfriend Christine King. “Peter’s intelligence is addictive,” she says. “Everybody else, in comparison, is a bit of a drip.” Still taking the Norwegian cod liver oil he’s downed since college, Krause admits to a new concession to his craft. “My grandfather stood behind a horse and plow, but I get facials a couple of times a year because I wear makeup for a living,” says the bemused Minnesota native. “I’ve always found that rather strange.”
SHE MAY MODEL FOR COVER GIRL, BUT rapper-actress Queen Latifah says the key to her perfect skin is found in the kitchen, not the cosmetics aisle. “Baking soda,” she says. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s a good exfoliant, not extremely abrasive. Use a little bit, then stick the rest in your refrigerator.” And while she’s at it, the Jersey girl born Dana Owens is going to eat, thank you very much. Pressed to diet during her five seasons on TV’s Living Single, “I was like, ‘I’m not losing a damn pound. I look like America!’ ” the 5’9″ Latifah recalls. “I think people can appreciate someone who has a semblance of confidence about themselves.” Vivica A. Fox certainly does. Her pal “makes no excuse for not being the typical Hollywood skin-and-bones woman,” says Fox. “She represents hard work, determination and belief in yourself. She’s become an icon.” Phillip Noyce, who directed Latifah in 1999’s The Bone Collector, isn’t surprised. “She has a big aura,” he notes. “She owns every room she’s in.” More and more, those rooms are at the end of red carpets, and to walk them the pedicure enthusiast (“the massage is the best part for me”) goes glam, trading her favorite Jordache jeans for couture and reaching for lip gloss by Cargo, Bobbi Brown and M.A.C. “I feel beautiful—gorgeous—when I have hair and makeup and my wardrobe is tight,” declares Latifah, 33, who impressed Oscar viewers in an ice-blue gown by Halston. “I am like, ‘Wow, girl, you look good.’ ”
SHE CAPTURED THE PERFECTLY COIFFED, RUBY-lipsticked ’50s housewife in The Hours and Far from Heaven well enough to earn two Oscar nominations. As further testament to her talent, Julianne Moore is decidedly less put-together offscreen. “She can have not a stitch of makeup on—nothing,” says New York City stylist Kithe Brewster, who has worked with the 42-year-old actress. “But you look at her and she is just so stunning.” It seems only Moore sees room for improvement. “I didn’t want to have freckles; I wanted to be taller,” she told GQ. “I wanted to have big lips and darker skin.” Living in Manhattan with her fiancé, writer-director Bart Freundlich, 33, and their children Caleb, 5, and Liv Helen, 13 months, the 5’5″ Moore leads a low-key life. “She has this approachable beauty, which is really rare,” says Coach executive creative director Reed Krakoff, who worked with her on an ad campaign. “When you see a photograph of her, she’s so strikingly beautiful, and then when you meet her, she’s so down-to-earth.”
“I HAVE A LITTLE CRUSH ON COLIN,” singer Sheryl Crow admitted at the January premiere of The Recruit. “He’s completely edible.” She’s not the only one who wants to take a bite out of this bad boy. “He’s wonderful, he’s wild,” says Recruit costar Bridget Moynahan. That the 5’10” Farrell has energy to burn is well chronicled—along with his chain-smoking, pint-loving, profanity-peppered carousing. Somehow he remains irresistible. “Colin is very handsome, with his jet black hair and the dark eyes and pale skin,” says his Phone Booth director Joel Schumacher. At 26, the Dublin-born actor is emphatically single (four months after he married actress Amelia Warner in 2001, the two split), but he played family man at this year’s Oscars, escorting sister Claudine and model Kim Bordenave, who is expecting his first child in September. Just don’t expect parenthood to tame the wild Irish rogue. “I don’t ever want to start censoring myself,” he says. “It would take away the fun of living.”
THERE AREN’T MANY rookies in NBA history who made their debut in the demanding position of point guard at age 19. And you probably won’t find any who admit, in French-inflected English, “Foie gras and snails are my weakness.” Meet Tony Parker. Belgian-born and Paris-bred, the 6’2″ San Antonio Spur was a first-round NBA draft pick in 2001, signing a three-year, $2.4 million contract fresh out of high school. The oldest of three sons of now divorced model-turned-naturopath Pamela Firestone and Tony Parker Sr., a retired European player, the Spur of the moment lives in San Antonio with his girlfriend of five years, Loraine Yvroud, but still operates on European time. “I don’t eat until at least 8:30 or 9 p.m., and I stay up until 1 or 2 a.m.,” says Parker, 20. He succumbs to the occasional fried-food fix but stays fast-break trim with a daily multivitamin, a shot of wheatgrass juice and a team workout. A lightning-fast metabolism doesn’t hurt either. “He eats like four people and never gains weight!” says Yvroud, 20. “He’s lucky that way.”
SHE’S MORE OF A NIGHT owl, more of a free spirit, and her best subject in the 11th grade is English. She’s three minutes younger than her sister. She’s sillier; her specialty is impersonating people. She’s earthier too. “I probably wear less makeup than all my friends,” she says. “Usually I leave the house with only mascara and lip gloss.” And though the mary-kateandashley beauty products from Wal-Mart are no small part of the 16-year-old Olsen twins’ billion-dollar empire, Mary-Kate experiments with other brands as well. She wears L’Oreal mascara, Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm and Rachel Perry cantaloupe Lip Lover. “In seventh grade we started getting M.A.C eye shadow in purple colors, but by eighth grade I became more aware of what natural beauty was,” she says. “I hardly even brush my hair. I’ll get it trimmed maybe four times a year.” Last week, she had it dyed dark brown and highlighted. She describes her style as “funky. Ashley is probably a little more sophisticated. Maybe I’d wear stripes and polka dots and she’d wear stripes with stripes. Ashley does the shopping for both of us. I don’t usually shop a lot.” Mary-Kate spends her free time taking power yoga classes and indulging in deep tissue massages at L.A.’s Four Seasons hotel. She drives a black Range Rover. She wants to attend an East Coast college with her sister….
SHE’S SHIER, A LITTLE LESS spontaneous and a whiz at math. She’s also the one with a small freckle below her nose, which makes it fractionally easier to tell the 5’2″ Ashley apart from her 5’1″ sister. She’s more girly. She likes Chanel Glossimer in Glaze and says she has learned how “to use bronzer with blush to contour.” Lately she’s also perfected a natural eyebrow. When she finds a blemish, she reaches for Kiehl’s Blue Astringent because “it dries everything out.” When she shampoos, she prefers products by Bed Head and Sheer Blonde. “I think they have good-smelling things,” she says. But as a rule, hair isn’t a priority, although last week she had it cut 10 inches shorter: “I care more about my outfits.” Ashley is the shopper. “I like mixing vintage with classic pieces,” she says. “I wear the $7 jeans you’ll get at a vintage store that are baggy and cozy.” When she dresses up, though, she prefers more fitted clothes, and she’s also a shoe fiend—Marc Jacobs’s are her favorites. Pilates is her exercise regime of choice, but when she can, she’d prefer to spend time with her boyfriend of 18 months, an Ivy League quarterback. She drives a green Range Rover. Asked if she thinks she’s beautiful, she says, “No. Does anyone?” Then she pauses. “I think my sister is beautiful,” she says.
SURE, HE STARRED IN TWO OF THE BIGGEST MOVIES of the past year, but don’t call Leonardo DiCaprio the comeback kid. During two years of self-imposed work exile, he grew up. Now 28, the 6’1″ DiCaprio returned 30 lbs. heavier (and packing muscles) to brawl his way through Gangs of New York, then slimmed down to strut through Catch Me If You Can in smartly tailored ’60s pilot uniforms. Either way, Titanic‘s angel-faced boy has become “a guy who is just sexy—he doesn’t even have to try,” says buddy Tara Reid. “He has those piercing eyes that are amazing.” Though seen less often making the scene, the once notorious nightclubber still shows up for karaoke at L.A.’s trendy Belmont in a T-shirt and baseball cap—and still bites his nails. “He’s wiser,” Catch Me director Steven Spielberg has noted of DiCaprio, next slated to play reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. “There’s a certain ease which he carries himself with,” says his Catch Me costar Amy Adams. “It’s a mix between being boyish and being a man that’s disarming.”
SHE’S STILL THE WORLD’S favorite female movie star. But since her secret wedding to cameraman Danny Moder last July, Julia Roberts has tried her darndest to live like a regular person. “What would surprise the public about Julia is just how normal she is,” says pal Denzel Washington. In her new role as hideaway wife, the 35-year-old Mrs. Moder (as she has asked to be addressed) is more likely to be seen at Cid’s natural and gourmet food market near her ranch in New Mexico than hanging out in trendy boîtes. When in L.A., the Moders skip Beverly Hills for bohemian Venice Beach, where they stroll the streets sipping soy cappuccinos. Even at this year’s Oscars, where the 5’9″ Roberts was a presenter, she eschewed diamonds and designer freebies for a ’70s poly-jersey halter dress and simple hair bun accented with tiny white flowers. The creator of that updo, hairdresser Serge Normant, gives this beauty his blessing. “To be quite honest,” he says, “she doesn’t need my help most of the time.”
BACK IN CHARLESTON, W.VA., A FOOLISH BOY spurned the affections of schoolgirl Jennifer Garner. “He called me Liver Lips!” she recalls. Who’s sorry now? The girl who would become super-spy Sydney Bristow on ABC’s Alias took the brush-off in stride, conceding that she and her two sisters “all have big ol’ mouths. We had long, plain straight hair and wore no makeup. I was always happy to look like a Garner girl.” The 31-year-old actress, who recently separated from actor husband Scott Foley, was transformed into the sultry Greek goddess Elektra in this spring’s Daredevil with Ben Affleck, but on the set of Alias, the cosmetic-free Garner-girl look is costar Bradley Cooper’s favorite. “Ever see those scenes when she has no makeup on at all?” he says. “I’m sort of thinking when she’s in the bathtub or the insane asylum, well, she is still breathtaking.” The 5’8″ Garner insists she’s pretty inept when it comes to maintaining her looks, although she admits to getting help from Neutrogena products. “I really look my best,” she says, “when I’ve just worked out and taken a shower and I feel great and clean and healthy.”
IS POP REBEL CHRISTINA AGUILERA cleaning up her act? no way, says the 22-year-old former Mouseketeer, who is proud of her butt cleavage, 11 body piercings and multiplatinum CD Stripped, with the aptly named single “Dirrty.” “I feel my worst when people are trying to make me look pretty or conservative.” Well, you can’t blame us for asking, and, remarkably, Aguilera agreed to a fresh-faced makeover for a PEOPLE photo shoot. Two days later she dyed her hair black. “There are so many blondes out there trying to fit that perfect stereotypical look,” she says. “That’s just boring and it’s not me.” The 5’2″ Aguilera has made a few other recent changes as well—like putting on 10 lbs. after going on the Pill. “I went on one that blew me up,” she says. “But I like being meatier and seeing that little pop in my pants in the back. I like my booty.” She also likes bottle tans, although not the “cheap stuff,” she says. “That stuff doesn’t work and makes you orange.” A devotee of Noxzema cold cream and M.A.C facial wipes, she says she recently toned down her eye makeup, quit wearing long acrylic fingernails and began indulging in Agent Provocateur’s Bubble Luscious bubble baths. “My whole bathroom is color-coordinated to the pink-and-black package,” she says. The reformed fast-food lover (“That stuff’s not really good for you anyway”) has begun weightlifting workouts with a personal trainer to prep for this summer’s “Justified and Stripped” tour with Justin Timberlake. She’s also dedicated to boxing. “It gets out aggression,” she says. But according to her mom, Shelly Kearns, singing is Aguilera’s greatest release. “Since she was little, Christina has been the most beautiful when she was performing,” says Kearns. “When she is onstage, you see her happiness.”
RANDY JACKSON CALLS him “the boy next door.” Paula Abdul says he’s “friendly and handsome.” And Simon Cowell allows he’s “a good-looking guy.” American Idol‘s breakout star this season is host Ryan Seacrest. “Young girls and older women alike have schoolgirl crushes on him,” says Abdul. “You can see it every Tuesday and Wednesday in the audience.” His secret? “People bring up my hair quite a bit,” says Seacrest, 28, who also cohosts an L.A. radio show on weekday afternoons. “It’s strategically tousled. The flatiron is the key.” The unattached Atlanta native watches his weight, sticking to a low-carb diet and staying away from pastries, “which I love as much as life,” he says. He also works out at least five times a week. And, yes, the 5’9″ Seacrest gets his eyebrows waxed, his skin buffed and his body soothed with regular massages and facials. “I was terrified the first time,” he says. “I was like, ‘Guys don’t do this.’ Now I’m addicted.” And though he feels at his peak “when I’m in full hair and makeup and wardrobe right before a show,” at least one judge disagrees. “When he’s unfinished and unpolished,” says Abdul, “that’s when he looks best.”
HER JOB TAKES her to the hinterlands of Asia and Africa, where hot showers are rare. But Nancy Ives feels most appealing on those grungy days wearing jeans and a fleece pullover with her hair tucked under a baseball cap. As vice president of communications for the Vaccine Fund, created in 1999 by a contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide immunizations for children in the world’s poorest countries, Ives, 35, has her priorities straight. “You see this abject poverty and it makes you so grateful for what you have,” she says. “It puts into perspective hair gels and the right lip liner.” Back home in Washington, D.C., the single, 5’9″ executive cuts a more glamorous swath—in a hurry. “I put on makeup in the car at stoplights,” she says. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for whom Ives was press secretary for seven years, remains an admirer. “People find her attractive,” he says. “But they find her much more attractive when they get to know her.”
AFTER A HIGH-STAKES DAY AT THE Santa Anita Park racetrack near L.A. last February, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was toweling off in the locker room, feeling disappointed after losing all seven of his races. The poor showing didn’t bother director Gary Ross, who approached Stevens with an offer to star in this summer’s horse-racing movie Seabiscuit, alongside Tobey Maguire. “He looks like a matinee idol,” says Ross. The transition to movie star began with a toupee. “The first thing they did was put hair on me,” says Stevens, 40. “But I am okay without it. Once, I was under a riding contract with a Saudi prince who offered to pay for a hair transplant for me. I didn’t do it.” The divorced Stevens, who lives outside Pasadena, believes in “staying natural and normal.” He pays attention to his diet because “my riding weight must be around 113 lbs. and my natural weight is 121 lbs.” Otherwise he has learned to embrace his limitations. “I always wanted to be tall and a professional football player,” he says, “but here I am 5’4″ and it’s a good thing, because my life turned out pretty well.”
SHE BAKES A KILLER APPLE PIE, MAKES HER OWN jewelry, and knits hats and sweaters. Then there’s Kate Hudson‘s sexy side. “She is one of those people you know would be great to wake up to,” says Matthew Modine, Hudson’s costar in this summer’s Le Divorce. “It’s the scratchy voice, the tousled hair, the squishy lips. She’d be a good reason to stay in bed.” But Hollywood’s 24-year-old It Girl is up and around and flashing her Julia Roberts-size smile. The 2001 Golden Globe winner for her role as groupie Penny Lane in Almost Famous cemented her box office clout with February’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which opened at No. 1 and has grossed $102 million. Rob Reiner, who directed her in the upcoming Alex and Emma, predicts even bigger things: “She has that rare combination of sexuality and comedy,” he says. “I have no doubt she is going to do really well—even beyond what her mother did.” Mom, of course, is Goldie Hawn, who handed down a healthy worldview along with enviable genetics. “Goldie and Kurt Russell did a great job raising Kate,” says good friend Luke Wilson, Hudson’s Alex and Emma costar. “She has lots of confidence but is also sensitive to other people. She’s really grounded and comfortable in her own skin.” When it comes to caring for that skin, the 5’6″ Hudson is similarly straightforward: Cetaphil lotion, little makeup, Ziploc bags of ice for puffy eyes. “I don’t do masks and I’m not avid about facials,” she says. “I am natural, natural, natural.”
HE IMPRESSED FILMGOERS WITH HIS PORTRAYAL of a troubled seaman in December’s Antwone Fisher (Denzel Washington‘s directorial debut), but his performance at the local manicure salon was less convincing. “I used to sneak in with my wife, Sophia, acting like, ‘Yeah, she made me come here,’ ” says Derek Luke. “But after a while the lady just said, ‘Okay, you can stop pretending.’ ” So now, at 29, the 6-ft. actor unabashedly says, “I love getting manicures.” And while he can thank his wife for introducing him to nail care, he can thank his mother, Marjorie, for the rest of his basic training. She gave Luke and his two brothers cooking lessons to keep them out of trouble when they were growing up in rough New Jersey neighborhoods, and now he turns out heart-healthy meals for himself and his wife. “I don’t know what he does exactly,” says Sophia, “but it tastes really good. And I hardly ever do the dishes.”
HER PORTRAYAL OF AN ADULTEROUS housewife in last year’s steamy Unfaithful won Diane Lane an Oscar nomination. It also brought her back into the limelight in a majorly sexy way. Getting the nod “was a great compliment,” says Lane, who began acting at age 6. Her latest success, however, has not gone to her head—or to any other body part. Her only indulgences are frequent yoga classes and massages: “I think the world would be lacking most of its woes if everybody just got a massage once a week.” The regimen works for Lane’s boyfriend, actor Josh Brolin. After noticing her at a party a year ago, he thought, “There’s no way she’s single. No way!” Lane, 38, shares her L.A. home with her 9-year-old daughter Eleanor (she splits parenting duties with her former husband, actor Christopher Lambert). In matters of appearance, she’s a permissive mom. “When you’re young, you have to try things,” says the 5’5″ Lane, recalling her own cornrows and teal-shadowed, kohl-blackened eyes. “That’s the only thing I miss. You’re supposed to be freer when you grow up, but everybody loses their sense of humor.”
THE GUY KNOWS HOW TO WEAR A tool belt. Andrew Dan-Jumbo, master carpenter on While You Were Out, the Learning Channel series that helps homeowners surprise loved ones with room makeovers, has done more for do-it-yourselfers than Home Depot. “The women say, ‘I want to be involved with the power tools,’ ” explains fellow carpenter Leslie Segrete, “because they want to be with Andrew.” He’s just as adept with grooming tools. Dep hair gel, St. Ives facial cleanser, Bump Patrol shave gel: He swears by them. “I’ve been laughed at many times in the name of male vanity,” admits the 6’2″ Nigerian-born woodworker who also fesses up to experimenting with dreadlocks and various hair colors. Those were good training for his other job—modeling in upstate New York, where he and his brother Raymond run a construction company. There, the 38-year-old bachelor keeps fit with four-times-a-week weight sessions. “When he hammers, he’s got these muscles in his arms,” says Segrete. “It’s distracting.”
MARIA, ANGELLA AND LUCIA
IN BODY GLITTER, BEJEWELED jeans and vinyl tube dresses, twins Maria and Lucia Ahn, 33, and little sister Angella, 31, are bringing chamber music to the MTV generation. Alternating Dvorák with the Doors, the Juilliard-trained Ahn Trio plays some 100 concert dates a year, touring more than 35 states and four continents. But while they’re happy to put their art to the endurance test, they refuse to suffer for beauty. Cellist Maria, 5’2½”, washes her face with any soap on hand. Pianist Lucia (the same height but younger by 10 minutes) stopped highlighting her hair because of the upkeep. Violinist Angella, 5’5½”, spares herself manicures. “I have to keep the nails so short, it’s not worth it,” she says. “They are always short, always cracking.” The sisters, who took up their instruments by age 8 in Seoul before moving with their mother from South Korea to suburban New Jersey in 1981, may stress performance over appearance, but, says composer and Juilliard classmate Kenji Bunch, “when they perform, you can’t take your eyes off them.” They get stares in airports too—that is, when they’re not recording (their latest CD, Groovebox, was released in October) or hanging out in New York City, where they live near each other. And though all have boyfriends, they love making new fans. “We played at one school and the boys kept saying, ‘You are so pretty,’ ” says Maria. “Now that we are in our 30s, we really appreciate that.”
“SHE HAS IMPECCABLE MANNERS,” SAYS costume designer Sophie de Rakoff Carbonell of her close pal Reese Witherspoon. “You always get a thank-you note, she remembers everyone’s birthdays and special occasions.” A modern-day Emily Post—in Hollywood of all places? You bet, says producer Marc Platt, who worked with the 27-year-old actress on both 2001’s Legally Blonde and July’s Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. “When we were filming, every two weeks there was some kind of gift from Reese to the crew. One day she’d have a blended-drink truck making drinks for everyone, then a mariachi band or karaoke, just as her way of saying thank you.” Even her Legally Blonde 2 costar, veteran funnyman Bob Newhart, was impressed: “The crew just loved her,” he says. “She knew the name of everybody on the set and what was going on in their lives, and that’s important to people.” The 5’2″ Witherspoon, married to actor Ryan Phillippe and expecting their second child next fall, also knows how to pamper herself. “She likes makeup, she’s very into clothes and bags, and she’s always breaking open some new lipstick she just bought,” says de Rakoff Carbonell. “She’s a Grace Kelly in blue jeans—classic and sophisticated but a totally modern girl.”
LISA MARIE PRESLEY
SHE GOT HIS DARK EYES AND THE ICONICALLY POUTY mouth. Lisa Marie Presley, 35, whose first CD, To Whom It May Concern, is climbing the charts, also inherited Elvis’s rebellious spirit. Facing down trendy health and beauty routines, she says, “I smoke, I don’t do yoga, I don’t meditate or do macrobiotics. I bite the hell out of my nails.” And although she enjoys hiking near the L.A.-area house she shares with daughter Danielle, 13, and son Benjamin, 10, she has stopped her former practice of “fanatical” two-hour daily workouts. “I don’t necessarily feel better when I exercise,” she explains. But she does try to eat right. While she makes room for guilty pleasures (“Mexican food, salt, pizza—all the things I like are big no-nos,” she admits), Presley has acquired a taste for green tea and tofu. Once given to experimenting with every hair color, cosmetic and beauty treatment in the book, she has cut back to Epicuren skin-care creams and regular weekly massages to help her sleep. The 5’3″ Presley, whose three-month marriage to third husband Nicolas Cage ended in November, says that she is trying to avoid false notes—in her looks and in her life. “It’s pretty bare-bones, simplistic, not full of smoke screens,” she says. “That’s how I’m more comfortable now. I’m not trying to be anything other than myself.”
IF YOU’RE GOING TO WORK ON A SHOW LIKE FOX’S real-time thriller 24, you have to make grooming choices you can live with. Carlos Bernard learned that the hard way when he filmed the first episode last season sporting a soul patch from a previous TV gig. Having his 24 character, counterterrorist agent Tony Almeida, get rid of it midseason was not an option. “How often do you shave at work?” he recalls thinking. “He’d be a flake: The world’s falling apart and he’s shaving.” The 5’10” actor has a long history of hair issues. “I had a pretty big ‘fro going in high school,” says Bernard, 40. “My hair goes wild, curly wild.” Now he keeps it in line with hair tamer Egyptian Magic, a gift from his wife, actress Sharisse Baker-Bernard, who is expecting their first child this summer. Without it, he says, “the hair will look like a walrus or a chicken”—a do he sometimes models on-set, sealing his rep as 24‘s resident goofball. “That’s one of the most appealing things about him,” says costar Reiko Aylesworth, his love interest this season. “He doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
EVE JIHAN JEFFERS MAY BILL HERSELF as a “pit bull in a miniskirt,” but when director Tim Story cast the 24-year-old rapper in Barbershop, he found a pussycat lurking behind the paw-print tattoos above her breasts. “Eve’s a sweetheart with a big sense of humor,” says Story. “She’s sexy but commands respect and keeps a mystery about her that just makes you want to know what’s up with her.” No mystery about her skin-care routine. Musts for the 5’7″ Philly native, who went blonde on a high school dare, include Remede’s Sweep marble scrub, diligent face cleansing and moisturizing with Cetaphil (“even if I’m basically asleep at the sink”) and Floret perfume by Antonia’s Flowers. “I’m addicted,” she says. “At $125 a bottle and three bottles every two months, that’s a problem,” though not nearly as annoying as the trainer who comes to her New Jersey home three times weekly. “I’m so lazy, I’m only motivated to work out when she’s around,” Eve admits. During a recent stay in L.A., “I just slept and sat on my butt. She was supposed to be coming out here from New York, but I ducked her phone calls.”
HE LOVES FOOD: “I’M A BARBECUE GUY, I’M A steak guy, I’m a grill guy.” Therefore, he works out. “I usually take in a lot, so I have to fight it with exercise,” says Eric McCormack. “Four mornings a week I’m on a treadmill listening to bad ’70s rock and roll.” He has had to cut back on his workouts, however, since last July, when his wife, Janet, gave birth to son Finnigan. “Whoever said you have to run at least 40 minutes has no life,” says the 40-year-old Emmy-winning star of Will & Grace. “You get yourself a 10-month-old boy and you try to find 40 minutes in the day to run on a treadmill! It’s all I can do to pull off 30.” His son also saps his energy. “Having a child, I’ve got dark circles under my eyes that all the great makeup in the world can’t necessarily hide,” says the 5’11” actor, who refreshes himself with a trick he copped from Paul Newman in The Sting—dunking his head in a sink of ice water. “It helps with bloodshot eyes and bags.” His best feature? “I have long eyelashes that really piss women off,” he offers. My Big Fat Greek Wedding creator Nia Vardalos, a pal since college and a frequent dinner guest, isn’t one of them. “Eric is self-confident and self-effacing at the same time,” she says. “He is absolutely charming—and so beautiful!”
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE hair. No matter how impressive her credentials or how poised she is under pressure, a newswoman’s star rises and falls on the state of her tresses—and the critiques often start close to home. “My mother had crazy names for my hairstyles—Alice in Wonderland, Helmet Head,” says Liz Cho, the overnight coanchor (with Derek McGinty) of ABC News’s World News Now and a frequent pinch hitter on Good Morning America. “She also has friends of friends who comment on it.” Well, other reviews are in, and they’re raves. “There’s something very at ease and natural with Liz,” says GMA executive producer Shelley Ross. “There’s a quiet confidence people find extremely appealing.” Growing up in Concord, Mass., with Korean dad Sang Cho, a Boston surgeon, Jewish mom Donna, a retired nurse, and little brother Andrew, the 32-year-old Cho remembers, there was nothing natural about her permed-to-the-max coif. “At my prom I could barely get into the limo, my hair was so big,” she says. She has since come to terms with her naturally straight hair, but “I blow it out, tease it and use a lot of hairspray to prevent it from looking flat and heavy.” The 5’6″ Manhattanite is also scrupulous about caring for her skin, cleansing it with dermatologist-prescribed products after baking under hot lights in heavy makeup for hours. “The first thing I do when I get home is wash my face,” she says. “My husband won’t even kiss me until I do.” That’s doubtful. “She’s probably the first girl in my life who made me nervous,” says real estate investor Evan Gottlieb, 41. “I’m a lucky guy.”
HE CALLS IT “WORKING MY JELLY.” THAT’S R & B phenom Usher Raymond IV’s term for turning on the charm and the radiant smile that enticed fans even before he displayed his famously toned abs on the cover of his smash CD 8701. “I go on the Web site and they say things like ‘Usher has sexy teeth,’ ” muses his mom and manager, Jonnetta Patton. “How do you have sexy teeth?” Flossing—”ridiculously,” he says—might help, but there’s no doubt how Usher, 24, keeps everything else in shape: He works at that too. Some days the 5’9″ McDonald’s fan and unabashed chocoholic sticks to five small servings of vegetables, chicken and fish. After a brief infatuation with Starbucks caramel machiattos, he’s back to water, gulping down a gallon a day. (“I can’t sip water,” he says. “It’s nasty.”) Now he avoids caffeine, shuns sodas and rises at 6:30 a.m. to put in an hour of hard gym work. “I pride myself on trying to keep my body as healthy as I can,” he explains, but amid all the austerity there are perks: weekly manicures and pedicures, regular facials and plenty of designer duds. (Lately “I have a preppy look, sort of a golfer’s look,” he says. “But a very, very extremely hip golfer.”) The biggest bonus of all? His girlfriend, TLC’s Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, whom Usher approached after she appeared in his 2001 “U Remind Me” video. Eight years after she’d first met him—”I thought, ‘Cute dimples,’ ” she recalls—resistance was futile. “He turned it on, and I was trying to fight it,” she says. “But when he looks at you with those bedroom eyes, it’s just over.”
SHE WAS THE SEXY ONE ON R&B GROUP TLC’s multiplatinum CrazySexyCool CD, but Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas has never been one to let vanity get in the way of a good time. “I’m a down-to-earth glamor girl,” she says. “I prefer tennis shoes to high heels any day.” The better to stroll the aisles of Target—where Thomas, 32, stocks up on Bonne Bell’s Shoutin’ Sugar lip gloss—and to close the door to the gym in her Atlanta home. “It’s almost like it’s there for decoration,” she says. “I work out once a week.” That’s evidently enough to keep the sometime dancer in fighting trim for her sole beauty obsession: the ongoing battle with her birth certificate. “Aging—I’m fighting it all! I make sure I buy every anti-aging cream,” admits the devotee of Chanel’s Precision Age Delay Eye, Freeman’s cucumber peel, and frequent exfoliation. “I’ve got my boxing gloves on.” Her beau of 18 months, R&B singer Usher, is knocked out. “We started out as friends and still are,” he says. “Chilli’s not a diva, she’s cool. You can take her to the White House or the Waffle House.” Last Valentine’s Day he made reservations at one of her favorite Italian restaurants, Atlanta’s Brio Tuscan Grille. While his mother babysat Thomas’s 5-year-old son Tron (whose father is music producer Dallas Austin), Usher guided Thomas to a private room. “There was music playing and rose petals and Hershey’s Kisses that covered the entire floor,” she recalls. “He said, ‘They represent that I kiss the ground you walk on.’ That was sooooo sweet.”
“AT SATURDAY NIGHT Live, all the drugs and alcohol have been replaced by food,” says head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Tina Fey, 32. In fact, she had to join Weight Watchers as a result and lost 30 lbs. Still, “stuff starts heading in different directions after you turn 30,” she says. “You have that moment in the locker room where you’re like, ‘Who’s that old lady behind me? Oh no, it’s me!’ ” The 5’4½” comic will admit to having “okay legs,” but “I can’t get on board with those butt-crack jeans. I pretend to have these political reasons, but they just don’t look good on me.” Living in New York City with husband Jeff Richmond, 42, an SNL music director, Fey follows a simple skin-care routine: cold cream and Seabreeze. And while she prefers plucking her own eyebrows, “for everything else, I’m salon-bound,” she says. “I’m half Greek, so there’s a fair amount of waxing that goes on. So delightful.” On air, Fey plays up her IQ with her trademark glasses. “People are always asking me, ‘Is Tina so hot in real life?’ ” says “Update” coanchor Jimmy Fallon. “And yes, she’s gorgeous. But you’d never hear her be vain.” Fey sees it this way: “I was chubby and nerdy once, and I’ll be chubby and nerdy again. With a little respite in between.”
“I MUST BE ONE OF THE CLEANEST GUYS ON Broadway,” says Daniel Sunjata. For his role as a baseball star in the drama Take Me Out, the 31-year-old actor takes two honest-to-goodness showers onstage during each of eight weekly performances. For the show, he uses Oceanus shower gel from the Body Shop. “I like the way it smells,” he says, “but I don’t use it at home. I don’t want the work smell at the house.” The unattached Sunjata, who grew up in Chicago and has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University, “is the perfect combination of sweet and sexy,” says Sex and the City executive producer Cindy Chupack, who praises his turn as an amorous sailor in last season’s opening episode. Sunjata, 6’1″, treats himself to a massage once a month and hits the gym at least three times a week. He avoids red meat and tries “to keep the comfort foods at a minimum,” he says, though he admits to one restriction-free day a week. Teases castmate Neal Huff: “There’s tons wrong with him. I just think he’s really well lit!”
EIGHT GRAMMYS DO NOT A DIVA MAKE. DESPITE the remarkable success of Norah Jones’s debut CD Come Away with Me (more than 5 million copies sold to date), “nobody ever recognizes me, which is cool,” says the 24-year-old jazz singer. “I don’t think I’d want it to be like that.” The daughter of Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar and Sue Jones, a nurse who raised her in Grapevine, Texas, Norah “is so shy that when she talks to you she never looks at your eyes,” says her former landlord Gregory Mushyakov, who also owns a salon under the Brooklyn apartment building where Jones used to get her hair cut. “She has natural hair, she doesn’t dye or perm it, and she likes a simple look. That’s what makes her so beautiful.” Adds stylist Joe Williamson, who has worked with the 5’1″ Jones for the past year: “Norah has perfect skin.” It doesn’t matter that Jones “never made herself up,” says Jennifer Gilson, owner of the Living Room, one of the Manhattan clubs where she started out. And so what if she “doesn’t know anything about fashion,” according to Bruce Lundvall, president of her record label Blue Note. “Her beauty is a spiritual beauty. It’s from within.”
HE HAS TRUE HAZEL EYES, A HEALTHY OUTDOOR glow and a luminescent smile. But friends say that Mark Feuerstein looks his best when he’s at his worst. “When Mark’s not beautiful, he’s adorable,” says Ashley Williams, his costar on NBC’s new hit sitcom Good Morning, Miami. “When he’s just waking up from a nap and his hair is all scruffy and his eyes are having trouble staying open, he’s cuddly. Only Mark can pull off the ragged look.” He doesn’t even shave every day. “I get razor bumps,” he explains. Back in 2000, while filming What Women Want, he complained about the condition to Mel Gibson, who gave him a new razor to try. “It was a Bump Fighter,” says Feuerstein, 31. “Those bumps are my superficial vanity issue.” To keep up appearances, the 5’8″ actor also is devoted to outdoor workouts. “Once you become an actor, it’s important to take care of yourself. I live in Santa Monica, where I can mountain bike, hike and go running on the beach,” says the unmarried Feuerstein. “I like a nice sunset jog.” The native New Yorker, a Princeton grad who studied acting in London on a Fulbright scholarship, will be appearing Off-Broadway this summer as a McCarthy-era Hollywood screenwriter in A Bad Friend. But he is hardly that, according to Ashley Williams. “He really pays attention to people,” she says. “And he has an incredible knack for complimenting women. I’ll come into work and he’ll say, ‘Great lip gloss, Sweetheart.’ ”
“IT’S VERY HARD BEING ONE of the most beautiful people. Having this kind of beauty is actually a burden. Sometimes I go to a party and not one of the other 49 most beautiful people is there. That makes me feel very solitary and alone, because it means I am the most beautiful person in the room.
“If I’m going to a party where I know there will be ‘less-beautiful people,’ I try to ‘dress down’ in order to hide my beauty. But this seems to have a counter-effect of actually making me more beautiful. I guess me and dungarees are a pretty potent combination.
“I try not to lord my beauty over others. This is very hard. I try not to mention that I am one of the most beautiful people, but somehow it always comes out. I will usually only bring it up when I’m asked to do a task, like open a garage door. People seem to enjoy my beauty and are genuinely happy for me, because after I mention it they always say, ‘How nice for you.’ ”
Julie Jordan in Montreal and David J. Searls in Bedford, Ohio