Amber Valletta

Amber Valletta
Erik C. Pendzich/REX

02/16/2005 06:00AM

As the heiress next door, Amber Valletta is pursued hard by a bumbling Kevin James in Hitch, Will Smith's hit romantic matchmaker comedy. But in real life, the model turned actress has settled down with two men in her life, her volleyball player husband, Chip McCaw, and their son, Auden, 4. Valletta, 30, best known as the face for Elizabeth Arden, recently chatted with PEOPLE about dating dos and how she's raising her own little charmer.

Have you ever played matchmaker?
I've had catastrophes so I don't do that anymore. My husband's good friend and one of my good friends got together at our wedding and that was a disaster. They brought out the worst in each other. I think that was my final matchmaking.

How about dating? Now that you're a married woman, any advice to give?
I have a real thing with breath and clean, nicely manicured hands. Not necessarily manicured at a salon, but not chewed to the quick. ... And I think most women love for a man to listen and to kind of be present and have a great sense of humor.

We hear your son managed to charm Eva Mendes on the set.
I think they have a little secret crush for each other. They played in the pool together in Hawaii when we were on a press junket and she just talks to him. They laugh and they talk, kind of flirt.

How was Hawaii?
I had a lot of massages. That was my thing. I played with my son in the pool, and he swam with dolphins, which was pretty cool.

Did your son go with you to the premiere too?
No, because when I'm working I feel it's really unfair. I get too caught between being a mother and being a busy worker, and then I don't feel like I'm doing my job well and I feel like I'm being a bad mom. He comes to the set and visits and then he goes and has fun and that's fine. But if he was there all day, I would feel really stressed out.

And now you're filming in Canada for Ben Affleck's Man About Town?
I just finished. I play Jerry O'Connell's wife. He is hysterical, he's a great guy, I really like him. And Ben is great, very cool. We had a lot of fun.

So, after working with those guys, who would be your ideal next costar?
I really want to work with some great actresses. I'm tired of working with all these guys. I'm tired of playing all these love interests and wives and whatever. I want to work with Julianne Moore or Cate Blanchett or Michelle Pfeiffer or Gwyneth Paltrow, or somebody interesting, like, God, Jessica Lange. Give me a woman! I'm dying for a scene with a woman.

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