THE QUENTIN QUESTION
Oscar winner Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite) admits that she and her steady, hardcore-gore director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), make an odd couple. "Yeah, but how many couples do you know where the two people are exactly alike?" says Sorvino, 29. "Yes, I'm quieter than Quentin. But there aren't too many people who are louder than Quentin." In fact, Tarantino's taste for the distasteful may be starting to rub off on Sorvino. In the thriller Mimic, due Aug. 22, she plays a bugged-out entomologist. "Now everybody asks me if I'm afraid of bugs. I think I have the average repulsion," she says. "There is one scene in a tunnel packed with live cockroaches. I was supposed to stick my hand into a pile of them, but at the last moment they used a stunt hand. I was never so happy in my life."

SHRINK RAP
Murphy Brown alum Robert Pastorelli, who will play a criminal psychologist in the ABC drama Cracker, premiering this fall, was quick to get inside Mike Tyson's head while sitting ringside after Tyson's heavyweight chomp of Evander Holyfield. "Immediately I said, 'He'll blame the headbutt and then he'll apologize,' " says Pastorelli, 43, now in the fantasy film A Simple Wish. "He either totally lost it, or he realized he wasn't being effective, and rather than suffer defeat, he chose to be disqualified." What makes Pastorelli such an expert? "As an actor I've always looked for people's motivations," he says. "Most characters' defects come from the big F: Fear. The guy who walks down the street strutting—you know he's the most fearful of all."

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED
Actor Dermot Mulroney gets to be the not-so-obscure object of desire in the current romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding. "Here I am in a movie where both Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz are fighting over my affections. I know a lot of guys wouldn't mind being in my position," says Mulroney, 33. "I knew Julia was cast when I got the movie, and I said, 'She's after me in the script? I've got to lie down. Give me a damp towel' " In real life, though, Mulroney is strictly a one-woman man, having been hitched to actress Catherine Keener (Walking and Talking) for nearly seven years. "We met on a film in 1987 [Survival Quest] and were friends for quite some time before we got married," says Mulroney. "She was my best friend and, yes, we had a wedding."

REMEDIAL READING
Jodie Foster may be a Yale graduate, but she felt out of her league while researching her role as a brilliant astronomer in the sci-fi flick Contact. "Because I'm kind of a science illiterate, I had to spend six months reading all the baby books and really getting to understand the stuff that the astronomers were talking about," says Foster, 34. "I'd read half a book and go, 'Wait, what did I just read?' And then I'd go back to the beginning. I was immersed in black holes." Foster had already picked up some signals from a meeting four years ago with the late astronomer Carl Sagan, whose 1985 bestseller Contact spawned the movie. "Watching somebody glow about intellectual discovery, that to me was the greatest inspiration," says Foster. "People ask me, 'What did you base your character on?' I just keep coming back to Carl. Obviously it's the female version of Carl."