Keri's 'Mission': Playing Tough

05/08/2006 at 06:00 AM EDT

Keri's 'Mission': Playing Tough
Keri Russell
JOHN B. ZISSEL/IPOL
She looked stunning in Balenciaga at the New York premiere of Mission: Impossible 3, but Keri Russell told us getting to be banged up and bruised for her role in the movie was much more of a blast. "There's such a freedom in that. It's much scarier to look beautiful. It's so much harder," she said at the film's New York premiere. "I'm having so much fun on this because there's a few other girls who are really sexy, and I just feel like the fun girl. It's more comfortable to be that girl."

And the actress – whose first meeting with Tom Cruise involved a hula hoop contest at director J.J. Abrams' house – also got to channel her inner Action Jane while playing Cruise's fellow secret agent. "We did lots of weapons training. We had to assemble machine guns blindfolded within 30 seconds. My best time was 13 seconds."

Jaime: You Go, Girl

Though she can't relate to her character's underhanded ways, My Name Is Earl's Jaime Pressly does share some her character's more likable traits. "The tough, go-get-'em strong girl," she says. "The scheming and all this is not me.

And Pressly has also been pleasantly surprised that her TV alter ego Joy has an unexpectedly large fan club. "Women come up to me all the time and say they live vicariously through the character because she says things that every woman wishes they could say, but it's completely uncouth and wrong," Pressly told us at a Crown Royal/NASCAR press event in Richmond, Va. "We all wish we could do that from time to time."

Caught in the Act

Keri's 'Mission': Playing Tough| Jaime Pressly, Keri Russell, Actor Class

Hayden Christensen, hiding underneath his baseball cap while waiting for his car at the Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood.

Jessica Simpson, shopping at Nordstrom at The Grove outdoor mall in L.A.

Jessica Alba, getting a solo serenade from boyfriend Cash Warren at a 25th birthday bash at New York City eatery The Stanton Social. "Cash saw (the cake) first and jumped up and led the song," says a source. "Cash was the only one that stood up and belted out 'Happy Birthday' to her." Along with 12 other pals, the couple – along with family and friends – racked up a $1,500 tab, which including French onion soup dumplings, mini Kobe beef burgers and champagne. "Cash and Jessica were really cute and affectionate. He was kissing her all night," says the insider.

• By KATY HALL, MOLLY LOPEZ, PRIYA MOHAN and MICHELLE TAN

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