June 16, 2003 12:00 PM

Fish Schtick

While recording the voice of Dory, a kindhearted regal-blue tang fish, for the animated adventure movie Finding Nemo, Ellen DeGeneres bonded with her alter ego. “She has no attention span and is so innocent and optimistic that I felt like a happy kid every time I was in a session,” says DeGeneres, 45. “But then I’d get into my car on the freeway and scream at other motorists.” Has the experience made it difficult for the comedian to dine on seafood? “I’ll admit it’s tricky. I don’t think I can eat fish anymore,” she says. “The next character I want to play is a tub of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.”

Noogie Nights

Paul Walker admits that his inner adrenaline junkie wasn’t satisfied while shooting the action sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. “I did more of my own stunts in the first movie,” says Walker, 29. “I was upset because this time the studio didn’t want me doing them, but I felt as qualified as some of the drivers they brought in. My whole life has been about cars and motorbikes.” The actor did get to choreograph his big fight scene with Tyrese, since director John Singleton thought it would look more natural that way. “Tyrese is from Watts [in South Central L.A.] and has 40 lbs. on me, and I’m a surfer boy, so he thought he’d deck me instantly,” says Walker. “But I’ve done martial arts all my life, so I put him into chokes that he didn’t know how to handle. We practically gave each other whiplash once a day.”

Field of Screams

When Mark Wahlberg suggested a friendly game of flag football to his Beverly Hills neighbor Jon Voight, Voight happily agreed. The veteran actor had no idea what he had signed up for. “He brought the cones to my yard, laid down the boundaries and had his buddies come over. I only played once,” says Voight, 64, who stars as a sheriff in Jasper, Texas, Showtime’s true-life drama about the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., airing on June 8. “I used to be an athlete, but I’m not 17 anymore. So I threw myself at different bodies, trying to grab the flags, and ended up on my face in the dirt. A day later I got all these aches and pains. I didn’t know I’d be facing a world-class athlete. Mark should play professional football.”

Kissed Off

Smooching Will Smith in Bad Boys II may have been fun for Gabrielle Union (Deliver Us from Eva), but it was torture for her husband, former Oakland Raiders running back Chris Howard. “I’m pretty lucky, but my husband doesn’t like it so much,” says Union, 30, who plays an undercover DEA agent smitten with Smith in the sequel to the 1995 action hit, due out July 18. “Chris retired from the NFL, so I think he’s happy to not have teammates who have seen my movies. Now he won’t have to discuss my love scenes in the locker room.”

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