November 10, 2003 12:00 PM

AGE: 34

HOMETOWN: Windsor Locks, Conn.


•Why you should know her: In the new CBS drama, Morris plays Lilly Rush, a Philadelphia homicide detective who specializes in unsolved murders from the past. She’s also appeared in movies like The Contender and Minority Report and costars with Ben Affleck in December’s Paycheck.

•A smashing start: From age 6 to 17, Morris sang with her father, Stanley, 63, a Bible scholar (who was divorced from her mom, Joyce, an insurance agent, in 1975), and two older siblings at weddings and church functions in their town in Connecticut and across the country. After doing theater in high school, she was en route to her first acting gig—a Japanese music video based on the musical Grease—in L.A. in 1990 when her car was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Despite suffering whiplash, she made it to the shoot. “That’s when I knew I was made for this business,” she says.

•Lucky break: After five failed TV pilots, Morris won a part in 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence—only to be left on the cutting-room floor. Says she: “I felt if I got hit by a bus, I was okay with it because I got to work with Steven Spielberg.” The director made up for it by casting her as Tom Cruise‘s wife in last year’s Minority Report.

•On the job: Shooting the thriller Paycheck last April in Vancouver, Morris, who plays a lawyer, had a “steamy scene” with costar Ben Affleck. “It got a little sexy there,” she says. “Of course he’s a good kisser. He knew what he was doing.”

•Love life: Last summer Morris got engaged to financial adviser Randy Hamilton, 33, with whom she shares a Spanish-style three-bedroom home in L.A. “Maybe I could have been farther along in my career if I was dating some huge celebrity,” she says. “But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: Do you have a real love of your life?”

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