03/07/2007 at 08:00 AM EST
Don't believe those rumors linking Terrence Howard to Naomi Campbell: The onetime Oscar nominee tells PEOPLE he's trying to woo back his estranged wife, Lori.
The New York Daily News
reported last month that the actor and Campbell were an item, but Howard, who turns 38 on Sunday and stars in the upcoming movie Pride
, tells PEOPLE: "You gotta remember now, I'm still married."
Howard and Lori, 35 – who have two daughters, Aubrey and Heavenly, and one son, Hunter – have been off and on since they married in 1989.
"I'm still trying to get my wife back," Howard says. I'm always gonna, you know, till she puts the last nail that coffin, and I'm hoping she don't.
"[She] filed for divorce but I'm still trying to campaign. My three kids are campaigning for me, too. They'll make sure that anybody who comes sniffing around gets a bloody nose."
So what is his relationship with Campbell, then? "I'm linked to Naomi Campbell in a sense that we both have a mentor in Quincy Jones. We've shared a lot of great moments and ideas," he says. "That's the truth of it. I've only known her two weeks!"
Howard says he's mentoring the troubled catwalker. His advice? "Maintain your majestic composure at all times."
To find out how Terrence got in shape for his role as a swim coach in
Pride and more, pick up the new issue of
PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.