"No makeup. No hairdo. No props. I didn't even use my natural voice," says Sharon Stone of playing a killer with a southern accent in her death-row drama Last Dance. But unlike Susan Sarandon, who has said she will never do another mascara-less role after her Oscar-winning turn as a nun in Dead Man Walking, Stone, 38, liked doing without. "I didn't feel that ugly," she says. "It was freeing not to worry about messing up my clothes or ruining my hair between takes. I could run around the lot, take a nap in my trailer, then go back to work." Studio executives took some convincing, though. "At first," says Stone, "they were like, 'Do you have to look so bad? You don't even look like Sharon Stone.' "
WHAT THE BUTLER DID
Gordon Sumner, the artist otherwise known as Sting, is supposed to be hyping his new album Mercury Falling, but the British rocker would rather talk about playing a murderous butler in The Grotesque, a horror film due this fall. "I was attracted because the role had so little dialogue," says Sting, 44. "I didn't have much to do except look moody, which is fine with me." Grotesque was produced by his wife, Trudie Styler, who also gave birth to the couple's fourth child, Giacomo Luke, last December. "Trudie got pregnant during the movie," says Sting, "which is a good thing because, as producer, she never paid me for the role. I guess a baby is the best perk of all." Not that he discounts Styler's cinematic expertise. "My best advice from Trudie," he says, "was to keep my eyebrows still."
BREAKFAST WITH BILL
Richard Dreyfuss, an American history buff and political activist, recently had a dream come true. While in Washington for the Kennedy Center's 25th anniversary gala, he was invited by Hillary Clinton to be an overnight guest at the White House. The star of Mr. Holland's Opus slept in the Lincoln bedroom and was greeted at breakfast by President Clinton. "We chatted for about an hour," says Dreyfuss, 48, disclosing only that their conversation covered politics, the Constitution, the Middle East and golf. "I didn't sit there nodding silently. I shared my ideas as well." Among the perks of a White House sleepover, says Dreyfuss, is unlimited telephone use. "They let you call anywhere, so I called my kids from the Lincoln bedroom. My daughter said, 'That's so cool! Steal something!' " Did he? Nope. "I already have enough of a past."
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
"My father always said, 'Don't marry an actor, because actors are vain and insecure,' " says Gwyneth Paltrow
, 23, whose dad is TV producer Bruce Paltrow and whose mother is actress Blythe Danner. Then came Brad Pitt
. "Brad is the one good one," Paltrow exults, "and I got him!" While the couple have not announced plans to marry, Paltrow has been seen wearing a multi-diamond ring on her left hand (yes, a gift from Brad) and fields questions about their year-long romance with ease. "It's frustrating when people write things that aren't true, but you can't let it get to you," says Paltrow, now starring with David Schwimmer in The Pallbearer. Still, false tabloid stories can amuse her. "The one I liked," she says, "is that Brad was giving sperm to Melissa Etheridge and her girlfriend, Julie Cypher, but I forbade it, so he called Melissa's machine and said, 'Girls, I won't be showing up with that Dixie cup anymore!' "