July 08, 2002 12:00 PM

Playing New Dates

The chance to live life as a single woman was long overdue for Bonnie Raitt. “Since the seventh grade I have not had any single time,” says the singer, 52, who divorced actor Michael O’Keefe in 1999 after eight years of marriage. “I am either cursed or blessed with one relationship after another.” How does the blues-rocker rate the dating game so far? “I am very inexperienced, but I am having a blast,” says Raitt. “E-mail is good because you can get to know each other before you get hooked up. It’s always nice to be set up by friends. They sift out the ones you don’t have anything in common with.” Even traveling to promote her latest disc, Silver Lining, won’t hinder the opportunity for a little romance. “When I am outside America,” she says, “I get to be freer. I get to be this mysterious, red-haired, wild woman walking down the street.”

Dad to the Bone

While filming Minority Report with Tom Cruise, director Steven Spielberg first had to let his star play daddy. “There were times that I was about ready to say ‘Action; and the phone rang,” says Spielberg, 55. “If it was Tom’s kids, everything stopped for that. Just when he was preparing for probably the hardest scene he has in the whole movie, the phone rang. Anybody else would have looked up with anger in their eyes, but he immediately broke character and walked off and took the call.” The big emergency? “Connor or Isabella had stuck an eraser in their eye or something like that,” Spielberg says of Cruise’s son, 7, and daughter 9. “It was not serious, but Dad came to the rescue. I thought it was amazing. I have been known to say, ‘I’ll call them back after the shot.’ ”

Hitting the Matt

When The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman first met with Matt Damon, he was more interested in the star’s abs than his acting ability. “Doug said, ‘Pull up your shirt.’ And so I pulled up my shirt, and he goes, ‘Oh God, oh God,’ ” recalls Damon, 31. “I said, ‘No, in three months, don’t worry, this stomach is going to be hard as a rock!’ ” After months of rigorous physical training to play CIA operative Jason Bourne, he is looking buff but facing a different kind of pressure. Since buddy Ben Affleck has said his own upcoming 30th birthday has made him consider settling down and starting a family, everyone’s wondering when Damon and his girlfriend, Affleck’s personal assistant Odessa Whitmire, will tie the knot. “I’m past 30, and I don’t know what Ben is talking about,” he says. “I am not engaged and I have no plans to get married or have kids now. I have my nephews, and that’s about all the responsibility I can handle.”

The Fast and the Curious

Nicolas Cage, 38—who earned his reputation playing off-center characters in such films as Wild at Heart, Moonstruck and Raising Arizona—admits to having a real-life crazy streak that led him to take up race-car driving as a hobby. “Race-car driving is therapeutic for me,” says the actor, who plays a conflicted Marine in Windtalkers. “The more you’re concentrating on staying alive, the less you think about what’s bothering you. And I’ve often thought I would like to try going through boot camp because I’ve always seen it as sort of a vacation. You don’t have to think about whatever is on your mind. You can just let someone else tell you what to do.”

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