By Chuck Arnold
August 02, 1999 12:00 PM

Out on a Limb

Playing Wild Wild West’s legless villain, Dr. Loveless, cramped Kenneth Branagh’s acting style. “It was very strange,” says Branagh, 38, who costars with Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Salma Hayek in the action comedy. “I actually had to kneel on this special wheelchair where my legs sank through the seat. Then they screwed down a plate to keep my thighs from moving. It was horrible because the pins-and-needles feeling would set in after about five minutes. In fact I could only stand it for 20 minutes at a time, and then someone would have to carry me out of the contraption.”

Can You Digg It?

In his new comedy The Wood, Taye Diggs plays a nervous groom who gets drunk and hides out at his ex-girlfriend’s house hours before his wedding. But it’s still his role as Angela Bassett’s dream guy in last year’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back that has women and men talking. “Brothers say, ‘You’ve made my life miserable. You’re the perfect man. Cut it out!’ ” says Diggs, 28. Still, the actor says Stella also made him an inspiration for younger men who are involved with older women. “It’s funny, but many men come up to tell me that they have older girlfriends,” he says. “They feel like I need to know. And I don’t know exactly what to say, so I’ve perfected going, ‘Hey, all right. Good for you.’ ”

Aflush with Fame

Some movie stars’ careers wind up in the toilet, but Julia Roberts feels that’s where hers began. “The first time I truly felt famous was when I went to the movies with my mom,” recalls Roberts, 31, who reunites with her Pretty Woman leading man Richard Gere in the romantic comedy Runaway Bride, opening July 30. “I had gone to the loo, and someone in the bathroom said in a very loud voice, ‘Girl in stall No.1, were you in Mystic PizzaT I paused, and I said, ‘Yeah, that was me.’ ” Now Roberts takes more notice of folks who don’t recognize her. “A couple of [months] ago, I was at a dinner party,” she says. “A woman asked me what I did for a living, i said, I’m an actress.’ At that point someone abruptly said to her, ‘You don’t know who Julia Roberts is?’ And everyone attacked this poor woman. But frankly, I was really impressed. I thought, ‘This woman has a life.’ ”

Bad Hair Decade

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years,” says Tori Spelling of her FOX drama Beverly Hills, 90210, which has just begun shooting its 10th—and what is expected to be final—season in L.A. “These people have been my family, my life. We’ve gone through so much together for a decade.” The actress, who costars on the big screen with Christian Campbell (Neve’s big brother) and John Paul Pitoc in the new romantic comedy trick, says that having a long-running series does have its drawbacks. “The problem with the show is that people think I’m much older,” says Spelling, who is 26. “They’re like, ‘You’ve been on TV forever. What are you? Like 30 already?’ ” And then there is the matter of reruns. “For other young people,” she says, “you can have bad hairdos and no one sees it. Mine live in infamy.”

Munch Takes Manhattan

“I’m just thankful that Munch has a job,” says Richard Belzer, whose character Det. John Munch, from NBC’s recently canceled crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street, has been reassigned to the network’s new spinoff Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, premiering this fall. “I was thrilled to be able to keep this character that I love so much and to be in New York,” says Belzer, 54, who filmed Homicide in Baltimore. “I live in New York, so now I can sleep in my own bed every night.” Don’t expect a trendy Manhattan makeover for Munch, though. “They allegedly bought Munch’s wardrobe from Homicide, but apparently it’s missing,” says Belzer, “so I’ll have to get a couple of new black suits, I guess.”