updated 02/12/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/12/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
"She's a little combustion engine of love," says Tom Cavanagh, who plays title hero Ed Stevens, Carol's aspiring beau. The Baltimore-born Bowen, 31, didn't get serious about an acting career until her senior year at Brown University. After graduating in 1991, Bowen, the middle of three daughters of a real estate entrepreneur and his homemaker wife, landed TV guest shots (Party of Five), then lucked out as the love interest of Adam Sandler (in 1996's Happy Gilmore) and Noah Wylie (on ER in 1998-99). Now in a bicoastal relationship with L.A. filmmaker David Brooks, 40, the Manhattan-based actress says she wants kids someday. Until then, though, she's more eager to see Carol and Ed's romance heat up. "I go, 'This is when we make out!' Everybody laughs and says, 'No, Julie, not this episode.' "