updated 12/02/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/02/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST
Halle Berry knew that playing the beautiful secret agent Jinx in the new 007 adventure Die Another Day would involve some death-defying stunt work. She just didn't realize that even her romantic scenes would involve mortal peril. "Pierce Brosnan and I were doing this love scene," says Berry, 36. "I was trying to be way too sexy for my own good. I pull out this knife, trying to give the scene an air of danger, and start cutting a fig. I ate a slice and it lodged in my throat. I couldn't breathe. Right away Pierce jumped behind me and did something. The fig just came projecting out." Adds the Oscar winner: "I was so stunned. Everybody in the crew was just staring at us. When it was all over, it was pretty funny."
In the movie The Emperor's Club Kevin Kline plays a prep school teacher whose tightly controlled world gets shaken up by a rebellious student. The role had Kline reminiscing about his own school days. "I went to a very strict school, and it did not suffer clowning gladly," says Kline, 55, who attended an all-boys Catholic school in St. Louis. "I was scared of the headmaster. He had incredible aim with an eraser. He could sit in front of the classroom, and if you were just leaning a little bit to the side as if to talk to the person next to you, he could hit you with an eraser upside your head from, like, 40 feet."
Brittany Murphy stars in 8 Mile as rapper Eminem's ambitious girlfriend who will do anything to fulfill her dream of becoming a model. The 25-year-old actress had difficulty relating to the character. "She's very different from who I am," says Murphy. "She's a very confident woman who knows what she wants and how to get it." Murphy divulges that her secret to getting into character is music. "I can go back to any scene I ever did and tell you the song that was in my head," says Murphy. "For 8 Mile I listened to Janis Joplin and Keely Smith. They stirred up things inside me that made me feel confident."
In Far from Heaven Dennis Quaid plays a married businessman in the 1950s who's hiding the fact that he's gay. "He's living a secret life with a lot of shame, and his pain manifests itself through [drinking]," says Quaid, 48, who admits he drew on his own personal experiences for the role. "I lived a secret life with cocaine and thought I was fooling everybody." Quaid, who went into rehab for cocaine addiction in 1990, was also plagued with career problems after taking time off to get his life back on track. "I feel like I've spent the last 10 years rebuilding. It was frustrating, and I was married to [Meg Ryan], who was getting handed everything on a plate, and that made it even harder in a way," says the actor, who divorced Ryan in May 2001. "But it's good all that happened, because it makes it all sweeter for me now."