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updated 03/20/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/20/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

Earth Girls Aren't Easy
In the new comedy What Planet Are You From? Garry Shandling plays an alien on an earthly mission to find the perfect mate. The comedian, who has never been married, says he is still searching for Ms. Right. "I'm not close," says Shandling, 50. "In fact, I'm old enough now that when I imagine myself walking down the aisle with a woman in white, it's a nurse." Still, Shandling continues to try out pickup lines on potential partners. So what's the best one he has ever come up with? "Bill Maher used to say the best line, which was, 'Hi, I have a TV show,' " he says. "So around the time I was doing The Larry Sanders Show, I would say, 'Hi, do you get HBO?' "

Mind Games
Although his good pal John Malkovich became the subject of the twisted comedy Being John Malkovich, Gary Sinise doesn't think anyone would line up to get inside his head for 15 minutes. "Believe me, if I had a personality that was marketable, I probably would have sold it by now," says Sinise, 44, who costars with Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle in the new sci-fi flick Mission to Mars. Anyway, he says, "I heard if Malkovich turned the movie down, it was going to be Being Steve Buscemi." Still, Sinise has the perfect person in mind to play him if they were to ever make Being Gary Sinise. "I would allow it if John Malkovich played me," he says of the actor, a fellow member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company. "Few people know that John Malkovich does an impression of me that is better than being me."

Fame and Good Fortune
Actress Charlize Theron, who grew up on a farm in Benoni, South Africa, readily admits that fame has changed her. "I'm not the same down-to-earth girl," says Theron, 24, who currently costars in the drama The Cider House Rules and the thriller Reindeer Games. "I'm just faking it. Don't tell anybody." So far stardom suits the former model just fine. "I'm not going to lie—I make movies so people can see them," she says. "My life is great, and it could have been a lot different. I could have been packing your groceries. So I don't have anything to complain about." Well, almost nothing. "On certain days," Theron says, "when I've got some weird rash on my face and I just want to buy myself some toothpaste and go home, fame is a pain."

Family Man
Jude Law, who is up for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars March 26 for his performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley, credits the birth of his son Rafferty, now 3, with improving his craft. "I think it gave me a very vital and grounding ingredient to being an actor," says Law, 27, who is married to actress Sadie Frost. "I come from a big, happy family. It was a security for me as a kid and now as a dad. It kind of takes away the possibility of becoming a narcissistic ego nightmare, which I think the acting business can sometimes offer up to you." Plus it better prepared the British actor for those early-morning calls: "It broke my sleeping pattern, that's for sure."

Meet the New Boss
Rocker-turned-actor Steven Van Zandt doesn't expect he'll ever get to don his trademark bandanna while playing New Jersey mobster Silvio Dante on HBO's hit crime-family drama The Sopranos. "I could never get away with it," says Van Zandt, 49. "But actually what helps me leave music behind completely is taking the bandanna off. I need to look in the mirror and see another guy." The guitarist recently resumed touring the U.S. with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. So how does working for a boss—Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini—differ from working for the Boss? "Let me just put it this way," Van Zandt says. "If I don't want to sing 'Born to Run' one night, at least I won't get whacked."

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