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updated 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Alan Gumming

The Hôtel du Cap might be the best place to hang one's hat in Cannes, but actor Alan Cumming hardly appreciated it. "I could have been staying in a Motel 6 for all I knew," says Cumming, whose busy schedule promoting his new movie The Anniversary Party (rolling out on June 8) at the annual film festival left him little time to sleep and feeling "like a piece of meat," he says. "I thought, 'What am I doing with my life?' "

The answer is, plenty. The Scottish-born stage and screen actor (who also plays a villain in the top-grossing Spy Kids) cowrote and codirected Party with actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and says the film is about "how difficult relationships are." Cumming, 36, met Leigh, 39, when the two starred in Broadway's Cabaret in 1998. After leaving the show the next year, they holed up in Leigh's kitchen in Los Angeles to write the script, then persuaded their pals Kevin Kline, his wife, Phoebe Cates, and Gwyneth Paltrow to sign up for the low-budget project. Next up for Cumming: a novel due in the fall, and talk of a screenplay from it. "I don't know if I want to write it," he says, but "I'm not averse to selling the rights for a small fortune."

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