05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
BECAUSE SHE KEPT HER HAIR SHORT UNTIL SHE WAS 13, Amanda Peet says that during much of her childhood "everyone thought I was a boy." But her scene-stealing turn as a wannabe contract killer wearing nothing but a pistol and a smile opposite Bruce Willis
in the surprise hit The Whole Nine Yards
leaves no doubt that Peet, 28, is all woman. "Amanda walks into a room and everything stops," says her Nine Yards
costar Matthew Perry. "She has this great eye and smile thing working for her." Still, there is something tomboyishly appealing about the 5'6" star of The WB series Jack & Jill
, in which she plays the title character with the masculine name. Her beau, actor Brian Van Holt, 30, with whom she lives in L.A., says that it was Peet's way with his male friends—not her "amazing blue eyes, incredible lips and beautiful skin"—that made him fall in love with her. "One night we were with some of my buddies, and she let out the coolest belch," he says. "It was incredible seeing this beautiful woman do that." Peet, who was raised in Manhattan by Charles, a lawyer, and Penny, a social worker (they divorced in 1990), says that some of her other attributes are less appreciated. "Makeup artists always want to take my eyebrows away. They practically come at me with a lawn mower. And last year someone at a studio said I have horse's teeth. People started calling me Mr. Ed!" For a rising star, Peet, a 1994 graduate of Columbia University, is refreshing in her candor. "I haven't worked out in months," she says. "And I love junk food. I have a thing for Cheez Doodles." She's not kidding, says her friend, actress Lauren Holly. "On the way to a party the other night, she was eating this bag of them in the car, and when we got to the party, she kept asking if we could leave soon," says Holly. "Then I realized she just wanted to get back to the Cheez Doodles."