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updated 05/12/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/2003 01:00AM

Face Rift
Emoting through five hours' worth of heavy makeup requires a super-heroic effort, according to Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who reprises her role as the blue-hued mutant Mystique in the X-Men sequel, X2. "You don't know if you're actually conveying what you're trying to convey, because you're hidden under layers of paint," says the former model, 30. "It's like, 'Okay, I'm really angry, I'm furrowing my brow. Can anyone tell?' My face was frozen by the silicon forehead piece. It was like Botox without actually being injected."

Crate Expectations
Rapper Nelly is now a trick-dribbling, slam-dunking, Band-Aid-wearing basketball star—thanks to the computer wizardry of NBA Street Vol. 2. "I always wanted to be in a video game," says Nelly, 28, who also wrote the song "Not in My House" for the game. "It's the closest I'll get to actually being a pro. Plus I look a lot taller." Playing hoops as a kid in St. Louis wasn't a high-tech venture for the hip-hop artist. "We didn't have basketball nets. We'd take a milk crate, cut out the bottom and nail it to a tree," says Nelly. "Or we'd take the spokes out of a bicycle wheel and then nail the rim through the little holes the spokes left. We had to be resourceful."

Caution: Mom at Work
Now seven months pregnant, The Practice's Kelli Williams has become an expert at keeping her condition under wraps. "It's now getting comical trying to hide my growing belly," says Williams, 32, who is expecting her third child with writer husband Ajay Sahgal. "My character is looking a little bigger, but our costumer has been covering me up really well using long coats and blouses with a bit more fabric." Williams has also become adept at adjusting the way she stands in relation to the camera. "But there's only so much leaning I can do," she says. "I always have to ask the camera guy, 'Do I have to suck it in?' "

Identity Crisis
Amanda Peet couldn't help feeling like a wet blanket on the chilly soundstage of the new thriller Identity. "That was the creepiest set I have ever been on. It smelled like death," says Peet, 31, who plays a prostitute named Paris. "There was constant fake rain, lightning and thunder. I never fully dried off after a day's work. We're talking intense mildew for three months." Not to mention cast members catching colds. "We took turns getting sick. We had space heaters between takes, but there weren't enough to go around," says the actress. "We'd fight over who got to be closest to them." Who won the heated battles? "John Cusack was the biggest space-heater hog," jokes Peet. "No, I'm kidding. John always let the ladies warm up first."

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