G Force

updated 06/09/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/09/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Buffing Up: Movie newcomer Franky G., 40, beefs up Mark Wahlberg's gang of thieves in The Italian Job.

No Pain, No Gain: As a thug on Dustin Hoffman's crime crew in last month's Confidence, Franky took a Hoffman-improvised head butt to the eye. "Even at the premiere Dustin was like, 'How is your eye? I'm so sorry,'" says Franky. "I was like, 'Dustin, man, don't worry about it.'"

Family Man: One of seven siblings, Franky lives with his mother, sister and nephew in Queens. After years struggling for roles—and making ends meet as a bouncer, construction worker and security guard—he was recently ready to quit acting. His sister Annette had other ideas. "She said, 'If you quit, I will never speak to you again.'"

Mr. Smooth: "He looks like a bodybuilder, but he's charming," says Job director F. Gary Gray. And unfazed by scenes with Charlize Theron. "To me, she's just ordinary," he says. "My girlfriend [actress and playwright Frances Lozada, 31] is gorgeous."

Training Goal: To play "more than an action hero" (next up: he'll play a cop in Wonderland, due in September) and buy his mom a house. Her take on his success so far? "She likes it," he says, "but I still have to wash the dishes."

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