May 22, 2006 12:00 PM

He made Reese Witherspoon swoon in Sweet Home Alabama. Now Josh Lucas has found an even bigger costar—the 150-ft. wave that upends a cruise ship in the disaster pic Poseidon, which crashes into theaters May 12. The Little Rock native chatted about life, love and booking passage on one seriously soggy blockbuster.


Despite training in breath control to play the leader of a ragtag group trying to escape the capsized ship, Lucas, 34, wasn’t prepared for the rigors of five months of filming in a 22-ft.-deep pool. “I started to hate that tank so badly,” he says. “There’s one chunk in the movie where I’m underwater for a long time and I got as close as I could get without running out of air. It was a very scary moment.” But his biggest complaint? “The amount of people peeing in that tank! It was such an issue. Someone asked me why I didn’t just mutiny.”


On Poseidon, Lucas did most of his stunts—with mixed results. “A muscle [in my thumb] literally snapped,” the actor says of one of his on-set injuries, two of which sent him to the hospital. “There was nothing connecting my thumb except skin. [Doctors] had to cut it open and rebuild it.” And during an underwater scene, he was accidentally whacked in the face with a metal flashlight by costar Kurt Russell. Lucas says the resulting gash “wasn’t a big deal,” but Russell’s longtime love Goldie Hawn thought otherwise. “Kurt came over to me and said, ‘Goldie wanted to know if I had apologized to you.’ It was one of those total guy moments. He never once actually said, ‘I’m sorry.'”


Back in ’96, Lucas faced a real-life catastrophe when Queen Elizabeth II showed up at a British screening of True Blue, his film about the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” says Lucas. “They give you this whole speech about what is going to happen and then—boom!—in comes the procession. When we get into the movie theater, I’m sitting next to the Queen! And, 20 minutes into my own movie—I fall asleep.” If Her Majesty noticed his snoring, she never mentioned it.


“I dated a woman who actually hardcore believed in past lives,” says Lucas, who’s now a devotee—of sorts. “The idea of spirits passing through bodies for periods of time—I guess I saw enough proof through certain things that she showed me to genuinely have a sense of … belief. Or at least [there’s] the possibility of that truth.”


Though he says he’s “womanized out,” the New York City-based actor says he is happily and “completely single.” Still Lucas does want to settle down soon. “I’m about to turn 35 and I want a family. I can feel it in me. Otherwise the rewards of bouncing around become limited, for sure.” (He dated Salma Hayek for a year.) The son of two political activists who moved 30 times by the time Lucas was 13, the actor now counts on his siblings to keep him in his place. “My brother Devin has this thing he calls KJR,” he says. “It means ‘Keep Josh Real!’ It’s a whole philosophy of him beating my ass all the time. [My family] will not take anything from me.”

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