John Spellman/Retna
Serena Kappes with Oliver Jones
April 21, 2005 06:00 AM

Age: 33
Hometown: New York City
Current gig: A Lot like Love, playing a woman who takes seven years to find out that her Mr. Wrong (Ashton Kutcher) might be her Mr. Right

It’s hard for her to keep a straight face
Director Nigel Cole had to resort to tricks to keep Peet and her A Lot Like Love costar Ashton Kutcher from getting too goofy. “We both tend to have huge laughs and that’s a problem for film,” says Peet. “If the two of us are close together and we are both laughing spontaneously, boy it’s a lot of teeth. That’s when Nigel would yell, ‘Botox! Let’s shoot it again!'” Says Cole: “I explained to them that if they kept moving their faces, I had a nurse available with a syringe of the stuff and that she was ready to use it a moment’s notice.”

She dances her nerves away
Peet isn’t immune to getting the jitters before heading onstage each night for her six-week run in the Off-Broadway drama This Is How It Goes. The cure? Along with her makeup artist and dresser, “we dance backstage like a bunch of jackasses,” she says. On the plus side, returning to the Big Apple has been a homecoming for Peet. The native New Yorker is even considering moving back full-time to be near her family.

Just call her Ms. Popularity
The actress has worked with her share of primo leading men – Matthew Perry and Matt Damon among them – but one of her costars signed on just to get a chance to act with her. “I wanted to meet Amanda Peet,” says John Cusack, who joined her in the 2003 thriller Identity. “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.”

But she loves to be in love
Peet, whose relationship with screenwriter David Benioff ended several months ago, is ready to date again. “I am a relationship person. Some people are comfortable being alone. They don’t panic. They see it as a bit of freedom and a time to be explorative,” says Peet. “Whatever the opposite of that is, I am.” But emotionally detached guys need not apply: “He has to be kind, and he can’t be anti-therapy,” she says of a potential beau.

She’s come a long way, baby
With her chiseled features and dramatic blue eyes, it’s hard to imagine anyone ever mistook Peet for being anything but a girl. But because she kept her hair short until she was 13, “everyone thought I was a boy,” she explains. And still, it’s her down-to-earth qualities that garner big raves – like her talent for burping. Her former boyfriend, actor Brian Van Holt, once told PEOPLE, “One night we were with some of my buddies, and she let out the coolest belch.” How’s that for being a show-stopper?

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