Back when she was still aspirping, actress Kristen Wilson liked to drive from New York City to New Jersey with a roommate and gawk at rich folk’s homes—including Eddie Murphy’s 3.5-acre Englewood estate. “We stood outside the gates looking in,” she says. “It’s so funny to think about that now.”
Funny because in the new Dr. Dolittle, Wilson, 28, now lives in Murphy’s house—well, his screen house—as the sexy if perplexed wife of the man who talks to the animals. The daughter of a telephone-company executive and a bank manager, who adopted her when she was 2 months old, Wilson grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., and made her acting debut at age 4 in a regional production of The King and I. Before graduating from Syracuse University in 1991, she toured in West Side Story and got her big break as actress Robin Givens in the 1995 HBO film Tyson. But her role opposite Montel Williams in the short-lived ’96 TV series Matt Waters led to something bigger: marriage last year to Michael Marzovilla, 33, a lighting technician on the show. Marzovilla, whose family owns the posh Manhattan restaurant i Trulli, says he found Wilson so beautiful on their first date “it was hard for me to look at her for more than 15 seconds.” They share their three-floor New York apartment with Ruby, their 2-month-old daughter. “Watching her change every day is really so incredible,” says Wilson. Sure, but a lot more credible than guinea pigs who talk.