March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

Without war paint

In her first major role since 1996’s The Evening Star, Juliette Lewis sacrifices glamor for art as Diane Keaton’s mentally challenged daughter in the new drama The Other Sister. “If you were to think about what your face is doing, you wouldn’t be able to do this character,” says Lewis, 25. “If I were to have some kind of vanity, that would affect the purity of the piece. There are different degrees of vanity. I love to play dress-up. I love clothes and putting on a face. But I don’t spend much time looking at physical flaws. I’ll look in a mirror but in a campy way, because I think I’m funny-looking. I’ve played some ugly emotions, and that can make you ugly on the outside.”

Super attached

Although he has spent years trying to get a new movie version of Superman off the ground, Nicolas Cage remains committed to playing the Man of Steel. “If they do it, I’ll be attached to it,” says Cage, 35, who costars with Joaquin Phoenix in the new suspense thriller Eight Millimeter. “I don’t want to get my hopes up, because I had a real fantasy about it, being a child who loved comics. So I’m not thinking about it right now.” Meanwhile, the actor is mulling over a screen adaptation of the 1969-72 TV series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. “Bill Bixby was one of my early role models—honestly,” he says. “There was always something about him. He had a certain style.” Which role would he play? “I’d have to be the dad,” says Cage. “I certainly couldn’t play Eddie at this point.”

Taste test

In the new romantic comedy Just the Ticket, Andie MacDowell plays a chef who whets Andy Garcia’s appetite. So how would the actress rate her own culinary skills? “I’d say I’m a fair cook,” says MacDowell, 40. “It depends on what I’m cooking. I can make pasta and great salads. I do pretty simple things—I’m not a cream-and-sauce cook.” Desserts are definitely not her specialty. “I baked a birthday cake when I was 9,” she recalls. “My mother was so impressed because it turned out gorgeous. But it tasted terrible. I forgot one very important ingredient: sugar.”

Dillon marshals

“I think that actors actually do make good directors—they have a pretty good track record,” says Matt Dillon, 35, who moved to the other side of the camera for an upcoming episode of the HBO drama Oz. “I’m a child of the movies. I think we all are to a degree, but [I am] even more so, having worked in the movie business since I was young. I see the world as a kind of a stage, a set.” Sitting in the director’s chair has given Dillon an appreciation of the job. “When you’re an actor, you’re a department—a very important department, but that’s what you are,” he says. “As a director, your mind’s on a hundred different things at once. You’re chewing gum and walking at the same time.”

Be like Mike

After six years of hosting the Academy Awards, Billy Crystal is delighted that his pal Whoopi Goldberg will be doing the honors at the March 21 ceremony. “I just work so hard to make the Oscars look easy,” says Crystal, 50, who won an Emmy last year for his performance. “The worst thing [would be] to do one that’s not quite as good because I’m not really into it. You know, Michael Jordan hit that last shot and walked away. But I’m not saying I’d never do it again.” In fact, Crystal, whose Mob comedy Analyze This opens March 5, has had a few thoughts about how he might have opened this year’s show. “I had some preliminary ideas of washing up on shore for Saving Private Ryan.”

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