October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

The Fight Club

Antonio Banderas makes his directorial debut with Crazy in Alabama, a drama opening Oct. 22 that stars the missus, Melanie Griffith, and includes a cameo by their 3-year-old daughter Stella. “I loved working with my daughter” says Banderas, 39. “But all she did was cry. I see those dramatic genes working in her already.” The Spanish actor himself next appears in the boxing flick Play It to the Bone, due this winter, in which he dukes it out with Woody Harrelson. “I think I got a bit too macho, I said to Woody, ‘Forget choreography, why don’t we fight for real?’ ” says Banderas, who found himself on the wrong end of a few good blows: “Woody fractured my nose.” But, he adds proudly, “I gave Woody an uppercut to the stomach, which knocked him out.”

Spacey Veep?

Why his critically acclaimed family drama American Beauty is already generating Oscar buzz is beyond Kevin Spacey. “I guess, like in the political world, they start handicapping these things early,” says Spacey, 40. His Beauty coster Annette Bening also knows something about life in the political world, thanks to speculation that her husband, Warren Beatty, might enter the 2000 presidential race. Would Spacey consider casting his vote for the man behind Bulworth? You bet; “I’d offer myself as his vice presidential nominee!”

Do the Eyes Have It?

Director Sydney Pollack had a unique way of determining whether or not British actress Kristin Scott Thomas could master an American accent in his romantic drama Random Hearts. “She read a New York Times interview with Sharon Stone into a tape recorder and sent me the tape,” says Pollack, 65. “She had a real good whack at it.” Earlier this year, Pollack had a prominent role onscreen in Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut. He wasn’t surprised by the wide range of opinions on the psychosexual drama. “That’s what happens with all of Kubrick’s films,” Pollack says. “They divide people. Fortunately for Kubrick, 15 years after the fact they all become classics.”

Archie Support

Former child actor Jerry O’Connell, who costars in the drama Body Shots, due Oct. 22, says it was a shot to director Rob Reiner’s ego that earned him his big break as the husky schoolboy in 1986’s Stand by Me. “An assistant to the casting director saw me at school and said, ‘Would you like to meet Rob Reiner?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ ” recalls O’Connell, 25, who attended the Professional Children’s School in New York City. “I went home and showed my mom the appointment sheet, and she said, ‘You’re going to go meet the guy from All in the Family.’ I thought I was going to meet Archie Bunker. Here I am at age 11, I walk into Rob’s office, and my face falls with disappointment. I say, ‘You’re not Archie. You’re Meathead.’ Whenever I see Rob, he still says, ‘That’s what got you the part. You were a real kid.’ ”

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