October 02, 2000 12:00 PM

Woman Warrior

Keanu Reeves‘s character Neo wasn’t the only one who was reborn in last year’s sci-fi blockbuster The Matrix. His costar Carrie-Anne Moss (The Crew)—who repeat her role as the buff, black-leather-wrapped Trinity when shooting for the two highly anticipated Matrix sequels begins in March—underwent a transformation of her own. “I definitely feel that I became very warrior-like,” says the Canadian actress, 33, who will soon begin a grueling martial arts training regimen. She compares it to a friend who is pregnant for the second time. “The first time, you really don’t know what to expect. Now I know every morning it’s going to take me a good hour to not be in pain.”

To Dye For

For those who know actor Christopher Guest as the wacky guitarist from This Is Spinal Tap, his recent turn as an eccentric show-dog owner in Best in Show may be a bit shocking. “I dyed my hair red,” says Guest, 52, who also cowrote and directed Best. “That was a last-minute touch.” Fortunately for his wife, Jamie Lee Curtis, that minute is almost up. “I was kind of sorry I did it,” he admits. “It’s one thing playing an odd guy in a movie, but when you’re in the elevator at the hotel and people are looking at you like you’re a convict, it makes things a little difficult.”

Rock Not Solid

Preparing to play a hit man in Nurse Betty was no sweat for comedian Chris Rock. “I went on a massive killing spree,” says Rock, 35, who chases Renée Zellweger across the country with fellow gun-for-hire Morgan Freeman in the dark comedy. However, it’s Zellweger, currently dating actor Jim Carrey, who seems to be getting off the better shots these days. “She’s always teasing me: ‘My boyfriend’s funnier than you,’ ” says Rock, who—for one of the few times in his life—has no comeback. “He is funnier, so what can I say?”

Getting in Tune

For a low-maintenance guy like Billy Crudup, looking the part of 70s rock star Russell Hammond in Almost Famous wasn’t tough to pull off. “The wardrobe went a long way,” says the actor, 32, of his character’s groovy threads. “And I never cut my hair. I just wait for someone to tell me what to do with it.” As for getting into character, that was slightly more challenging. “The priority was to stay with the script, to accomplish the things that [director] Cameron Crowe wanted in each scene,” says Crudup. “I didn’t just go into my trailer, play five bars of [the 1971 Led Zeppelin hit] ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and pop out as Russell Hammond.”

Wizards of Oz

Plenty of professional athletes run afoul of the law, but at least one sports figure is thrilled to be a jailbird. “It’s great to be back, although I don’t know how excited you can be about being in prison,” says Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox, 31, who is returning to HBO’s prison drama Ozand his role from the show’s first season as hotheaded basketball player Jackson Vahue. The role hits home for the Laker forward (and husband of Vanessa L. Williams), who was known for his aggressive play on the way to his team’s 2000 NBA championship. On Oz, though, “I’m worse!” he says. “I get into even more fights. I’m very confrontational and egotistical about my status in prison.” Fox, whose Oz episodes begin airing in January, hopes some of his teammates can join him behind bars. “It would be interesting to see a 7’1″ Shaquille O’Neal in prison,” he says. “How many guards would it take to bring him down?”

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