updated 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Let Go My Ego
He may be an Oscar winner, but at school events for his youngest kids (Katia, 15, Olivia, 12, and Malcolm, 12), Denzel Washington is just another soccer dad. "It's actually easier [being a famous parent] in L.A. because everyone thinks they're a star anyway. It's an industry town," says Washington, 48, who stars in Out of Time, a thriller. "At the schools you'll see Jamie Lee Curtis run in. When my oldest son [John David, 19] was in the seventh grade, he said, 'Dad, you're famous!' I said, 'See your friend Seth over there? I work for his dad'—who was a studio head—'and if his dad doesn't give me a job, you don't eat, okay?'"

Stepmama, Can You Hear Me?
Think you've got a demanding mother-in-law? Consider Diane Lane's plight. The 38-year-old actress is engaged to actor Josh Brolin, which means that she'll be welcomed into Barbra Streisand's family. "Absolutely it's daunting, but in the most wonderful way," says Lane, who stars in the romance Under the Tuscan Sun. "I'm a fan, and I always have been. I auditioned for her for the Amy Irving role in Yentl. I don't think she called me back." Good thing, because had she gotten the part, Lane would have had to share an onscreen kiss with her future stepmother-in-law. Jokes Lane: "Yeah, we could have been on the MTV Video Music Awards."

Nude Awakening
In the romantic comedy The Cooler, William H. Macy bares a lot more than his soul in love scenes with Maria Bello. "You see all of me. I'm not even sure my wife [actress Felicity Huffman] likes to see that much of me," says Macy, 53. "I fooled myself into thinking I could firm up before the big scenes, so I tried to squeeze six months of exercise into six days. I came very close to tearing my left arm off when I tried some of those weight machines. My rotator cuff is still not back to normal. I comforted myself by rationalizing that she's supposed to love this loser in all his glory."

Birthday Fake
Christopher Walken sure does love a good cake. That's what Seann William Scott discovered while filming the action flick The Rundown with the eccentric Oscar winner. "He was walking to his trailer, and he said, I'm kind of sad. It's my birthday and I'm here in Los Angeles all by myself,'" recalls Scott, 27. "I said, 'Oh, happy birthday, that's great.' Then Chris said, 'I'm just kidding. It's not my birthday. I do that on every movie. Two weeks from now I'll do this again, and I guarantee you I'll get a cake.' Then he just walked away."

One Tough Mama
If your kids are afraid of things that go bump in the night, take a tip from Kate Beckinsale: Play a werewolf hunter. "This role was really handy because just when Lily [her 4-year-old daughter with ex-boyfriend and actor Michael Sheen] started to get really freaked out by Scooby-Doo and monsters and stuff, she saw me blowing holes in the back of a werewolf's head with a gun," says Beckinsale, 30, who hunts creatures of the night in the horror flick Underworld, costarring Scott Speedman. "Mummy kills monsters for a living, so she's not so afraid of them. She knows Mummy's a badass."

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