Actor Bill Pullman saddles up as both star and director of the TNT western remake of The Virginian, premiering Jan. 9. Stepping behind the camera for the first time brought back memories of his earliest hands-on film work. "My father had an 8mm projector, and he used to buy little silent movies at the pharmacy—I guess that's what people did before VCRs," recalls Pullman, 46, who grew up in Hornell, N.Y. "My brothers and I used to watch these short, short versions of Gene Autry and other cowboy movies. We weren't supposed to use the projector alone, but of course we did. I remember the awful feeling of watching the film catch in the projector and burn, then scrambling to splice it so our dad wouldn't know."
Paling by Comparison
So how does Matt Damon feel about being one of Hollywood's hotter sex symbols? "Yeah," he says with a laugh, "I can still see women going, 'You were that sexy math guy in Good Will Hunting.' " In fact, when Damon wears a lime-green Speedo in his new thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, he doesn't exactly look like a hunk in trunks. "I was told I couldn't go near the sunlight so I could have this sickly pale look," says Damon, 29, whose character is infatuated with Jude Law. "You know, Jude and I would be sitting around in makeup chairs, and they'd be painting me white. They would be painting him real bronze and tan. I would look over at him and go, 'Hey, wait a minute!' But even I had to admit he is a handsome devil."
Tears of a Clown
Julianne Moore had a bawl filming Magnolia: The actress is in tears throughout the new drama. "Yeah, that was no fun, because each tear has to be different," says Moore of crying herself a river during the movie. Eager to stop the flood, she jumped at the chance to appear in the upcoming comedy Ladies Man, featuring Tim Meadows's swinging Saturday Night Live character. "I have a cameo in it where I'm in a clown suit. It's really silly," says Moore, 39. "Everybody kept apologizing because we were shooting all night, and I said, 'I'm so relieved I'm not crying, I'll do anything for you people.' It's nice not to cry, because crying's hard. Crying sucks."
It's Only Acting
Angela Bassett says that being married to actor Courtney B. Vance (The Preacher's Wife) has helped her cope with stardom. "I was traumatized by fame at first," says Bassett, 41, who costars in the sci-fi flick Supernova, due Jan. 14. "But now that I'm married to another actor, we share the trauma." And the love scenes. Bassett, who wed Vance in 1997, says that her husband has finally gotten around to seeing her steam up the screen with younger man Taye Diggs in How Stella Got Her Groove Back. "The tough part," she says, "is that people constantly ask him, 'What was it like to have your wife in the shower with that hunk?' But Courtney just says, 'She's an actress. She comes home to me.' I love you, baby!"
The Energizer Anchor
"I'm used to all-nighters," says Peter Jennings, 61, who logged 23 hours and 10 minutes on the air anchoring ABC News' marathon millennium coverage. In fact, Jennings, who helped the network welcome the year 2000 around the world from its Times Square headquarters, didn't even need the rest of the weekend to catch up on his Zs after signing off early Saturday morning. "There was not much to catch up on," he insists. "I slept four or five hours. And then I went to a party out on Long Island with some friends. I think I bored my wife because I couldn't stop talking about it."