Chatter

UPDATED 04/07/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/07/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

CHARGE IT!
Halle Berry got a total makeover, including blonde hair and shiny gold teeth, to play a designer-name-dropping supershopper in director Robert Townsend's new comedy, B.A.P.S. (short for Black American Princesses). But the actress and Revlon model required no research for the role. "First of all, I love to shop—love it," says Berry, 30, who will cohost the Essence Awards in New York City on April 4. "If I'm in a down mood, I look for a shoe sale. Frankly, I don't think women can have enough shoes. Or makeup." But unlike most models, Berry doesn't fuel up on salads. "I have a weakness for McDonald's Arch Deluxe burgers," says Berry. "I try to hide the McDonald's bag in the backseat of my car, but then I'll see a few other wrappers in there too. Then I have to say, 'Halle, better cool it.' "

WAKE-UP CALL
Last December, shortly after he wrapped Double Team, his action adventure due April 4, Jean-Claude Van Damme checked into a substance-abuse program at the Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital in Marina del Rey, Calif. "It's better to go in yourself than to crash your car on the freeway and hurt somebody," says Van Damme, 36, who had developed an addiction to sleeping pills. "I was sleeping two or three hours a night. When you train four or five hours [a day], you need your sleep. I became a machine, you know?" Now, says Van Damme, who has reunited with his fourth wife, Darcy LaPier, after filing for divorce in December, "I'm back into a healthy life. I'm a lucky man." But there's one addiction he can't kick. "If I don't train for two or three days, I become crazy," he says. "I need to train. It's my drug."

THE MAN'S A SAINT
Former Batbabe Val Kilmer plays another action hero, Simon Templar, in The Saint, a thriller opening April 4, adapted from the TV series (1967-69) that was originally inspired by Leslie Charteris's mystery novels. But off-camera, Kilmer says, he's always fighting his reputation for being difficult. "On the Saint set there was this rumor going around that I demanded to know the astrological sign of all the crew members [before] they could stay on the shoot. It was nonsense," says Kilmer, 37. "One crew member handed me a note that said, 'I'm a Virgo. Can I stay?' " The Saint's multiple disguises came easily to him, though. "I goof around doing voices with my kids," says Kilmer, who has two children with his ex-wife, actress Joanne Whalley. "My son [Jack] has memorized the first 50 words of Hamlet, and he babbles the lines to me, which is really funny, because he's only 21 months old."

SNOW BUSINESS
In the thriller Smilla's Sense of Snow, Julia Ormond plays a woman wise in the ways of the white stuff. But it took the British actress time to catch the drift. "We're a nation that prays for a white Christmas and never really gets one," says Ormond, 32, who, having grown up in England, had not seen a whole lot of powder until she went to Greenland, where much of Smilla's snowy scenes were filmed last spring. "One day, Bille August [the director] and I were on a dogsled ride," she says. "We had come over the brow of a hill and were headed straight into this lake. There was a bit of shrieking on the sled. They didn't tell us there was six inches of ice below the surface." So what's next for Ormond, currently enjoying the cold comforts of Moscow and Siberia, where she's filming The Barber of Siberia? "Anything with Caribbean in the title would be good," she says.

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