British actress Emily Watson has played a destitute mother (Angela's Ashes), a cellist suffering from MS (Hilary & Jackie) and now a blind woman who falls in love with a serial killer in Red Dragon. Why has she taken on so many tortured characters? "I'm a total fruitcake," Watson, 35, says with a laugh. "It's exhilarating to play someone who is in such misery." And proving that misery loves company, the actress admits she even spent her days off hanging out with a certain cannibalistic doctor on the set of Dragon, the prequel to 1991's Silence of the Lambs. "I'd come by and Anthony [Hopkins] would already be in his Hannibal jail cell. He wouldn't say hello. He'd just make that horrible sucking noise." Typically enough, Watson wasn't fazed. "The first thing I did when I got the role was go out to dinner with my husband [actor Jack Walters]," she says, "and we actually ordered fava beans and a nice Chianti."
The Marrying Man
Dustin Hoffman has been waiting 23 years to wed Susan Sarandon. "We met when she read for [1979's] Kramer vs. Kramer. We connected and I was hoping she'd play the wife," says Hoffman, 65, of the role that went to Meryl Streep. In the family drama Moonlight Mile, due Sept. 27, he finally got his chance to be Sarandon's hubby, a role he admits he'd love to have in real life. "Just not in this lifetime. I don't want to get divorced again," says Hoffman, who has four children with his second wife, Lisa, a lawyer. "But there are people out there that we bump into and think, 'I probably could have been married to that person.' With Susan it's a combination of things. Chemistry is one of them, but that's the kind of sexual heat she puts in everyone's head. Aside from that, she's in her 50s. Thank God we have one representative of the female gender who can disprove the notion that that age is just a sanctuary for middle-aged men."
A Chip Off the Old Sod
For the upcoming drama Evelyn, Pierce Brosnan ditched James Bond's high-tech gadgets and debonair manners to play a 1950s working-class Irishman fighting for custody of his children. The experience, which hit close to home for the 50-year-old actor, left him shaken and stirred. "My parents split up [when I was 1], and I didn't see my old man until I was 33," says Brosnan, who was raised by his mother, May Carmichael, a nurse. "Being Irish, being a father, having a certain sense of abandonment in my own childhood, there was that kind of identification." Brosnan, who stars in the Bond adventure Die Another Day (out Nov. 22), was also happy at being able to break out of the secret agent mold. "I'm grateful for Bond, but there has got to be more. I came to America and played Remington Steele [in the '80s]. It was just me playing myself, and I've been doing that a long time. Playing it safe and playing Mr. Suave just bores the ass off me."
On a New Kick
Long before he earned a reputation as a heartthrob, Latin crooner Enrique Iglesias set his sights on scoring in a different venue. "I remember coming from Spain to America when I was 8 years old and playing in this soccer league," says Iglesias, 27, who moved to Miami to live with his father, Julio Iglesias, in 1983. "I was the star player because I grew up playing it. I won for the team a bunch of times. Unfortunately, I got worse and worse until I just had to stop playing. I became more of a geek and not the cool guy." Many women would disagree, especially his girlfriend, tennis player Anna Kournikova, who is helping him regain his status as a jock. "She's teaching me tennis," says Iglesias. "I suck right now but I'm really getting into it."