June 10, 2004 03:00 PM

Good thing Jennifer Love Hewitt is a cat lover – the perky actress gets chummy with the ultimate temperamental feline (albeit an animated one) for Garfield: The Movie. It’s a playful turn for the 25-year-old actress, who broke out on the family drama Party of Five and screamed her way through the I Know What You Did Last Summer horror flicks. PEOPLE recently caught up with Hewitt to chat about her furry castmate, her dating life and some guilty pleasures.

Gossip magazines seem to romantically link you to someone new each week. How do you deal with that?
It’s gotten funny now. It didn’t used to be funny, but now it’s hilarious because really and truly if I went out with as many people as they said I did, I wouldn’t have time for a career. I would be in the makeup and hair chair all the time for men all day. I would be on my ninth date right now.

So how do you convince potential dates that you’re not like that?
I can’t. The only thing I can do is prove myself to people, but it does hurt me in my life. It puts a seed of doubt.

Are you a cat lover or a dog lover?
I used to have lots of cats – I had six cats at one time, but now I just have a dog.

What kind?
A Chihuahua. She’s cute. She’s 4 and her name is Mia.

Were you a Garfield fan?
I had watched the cartoon and I had read the comic in the Sunday paper. I thought he was adorable and really cute.

That cat also likes to eat. What’s your favorite pig-out food?
I do love Italian food. Any kind of pasta or pizza. My new pig-out food is Indian food. I eat Indian food like three times a week. It’s so good.

In the movie you play a pretty sexy veterinarian.
I know but that wasn’t the intention. I saw the movie the other day and I thought, I’m kind of tarty, what happened? Actually, I felt very demure compared to things like Heartbreakers.

Jennifer Love Hewitt

So what kind of roles would you like to play next?
I’d like to do My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman, Meg Ryan-type stuff. Romantic comedies. I’d love to do some action stuff as well. I just did a romantic comedy outside of London. I’m really excited about it. It’s called The Truth About Love (with Dougray Scott).

And Love just happens to be your nickname …
I know, it’s hilarious. It took the crew like halfway through filming to realize that my name is in the title. Then they were all coming up to me and said, “Do you know your name is in the title?”

How difficult was it doing the British accent?
It was tough. It was more difficult because I was insecure about being the only American actor in an all British cast and all British crew. I really stuck out like a sore thumb when I spoke like myself.

So, you’re not linked to any one guy now, but at one point you went out with Carson Daly. What’s the real story about that breakup?
We had a mutual conversation. It was fine. Then supposedly he turned around the next day and said I broke up with him on the radio, which is not true.

But you got your revenge, roasting him on his MTV tribute.
Yeah, I did. I really felt odd about that whole thing, because the truth is if you care about somebody enough to be with them for two years of your life, you’re always going to care about them in some way. I will always think that he is a great person.

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