Elvis Star: Jonathan Rhys Meyers

updated 05/16/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2005 01:00AM

AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Cork, Ireland
WHERE YOU'VE SEEN HIM: The dreamy soccer coach in 2002's Bend It Like Beckham, he's now getting all shook up in the CBS miniseries Elvis

•Luck of the Irish: Raised with three brothers by his divorced mom in rural Ireland, Rhys Meyers didn't have a phone or a car—but "of course we had a TV," he says. Though he loved watching movies like Dirty Dancing and La Bamba, the high school dropout never considered acting until he was spotted at 16 in a pool hall by a casting director: "She came in and said, 'You look like you should be in films.' And I agreed with her."

•Soupy sales: One of Rhys Meyers's first paid acting gigs was a commercial for Knorr soup. "Everyone saw it," he says. "Every time I walked down the street: 'Give us a bowl of soup!' It paid me 500 [pounds], but for a year's worth of embarrassment."

•Suspicious Eyes: Asking an Irish-man to play Elvis might sound as logical as casting Jeff Foxworthy as Bono, but Rhys Meyers, who mostly lip-synchs in the miniseries, was more than comfortable in his blue suede shoes. Once, after filming wrapped, "I was stunned when three girls walking past him pointed and said, 'Elvis!' " says director James Sadwith. "They weren't involved in the picture. They just spotted him."

•It's Bananas: Now living in London with his girlfriend, college student Reena Hammer, 18, Rhys Meyers will next be seen in Woody Allen's Match Point, which was filmed in England. Allen personally offered him the lead role. "I walk out of the room, and I'm like, 'Woody Allen just gave me a role in his movie,' " he says. "I kind of just collapsed!"

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