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August 6, 2000, Sunday
FEATURES; Pg. 4, 5

HEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD'S 10 TO WATCH;

DO THEY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE THE NEW PRETTY WOMAN?

Scottish Daily Record
Sunday Mail

STEP aside Julia Roberts. Move over Meg Ryan. A new crop of Hollywood starlets are out to make the leap from celluloid eye candy to megastardom.

Ten years ago, Julia Roberts was just another good-looking actress - but Pretty Woman changed all that.

Now she won't come out to play unless someone meets her Pretty Hefty price tag - currently around $ 20million per film.

And Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock aren't far behind in the superpay league.

Yet at the height of summer, when movie-going peaks, none of the Hollywood's bankable women have put in an appearance, in fact there's no chick flicks in sight.

Meg is too busy romancing Russell Crowe after dumping ex-hubby Dennis Quaid, Sandra bolted after the failure of 28 Days and even Julia has been keeping Pretty Quiet.

Instead, the film industry is relying on the next generation of talented young actresses.

Hollywood bosses reckon these new leading ladies are more natural and spontaneous than Julia and Co.

The current crop of bright young things includes Penelope Cruz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rachael Leigh Cook and Angelina Jolie.

Today's female leads are an independent lot. These are not women who follow the rules, they make them.

And when it comes to romance, they're not interested in finding Mr Right - they'll settle for Mr Right Now.

These days it's girls who are the tough guys.

We have Angelina Jolie doing all the detective work in the Bone Collector while her boss, Denzel Washington, occupies the traditional female role as helpless romantic interest.

And she wields a spanner and a lot of attitude in the summer hit Gone in 60 Seconds.

We'll see model-turned actress Rebecca Romijn- Stamos kicking up a storm as blue-scaled Mystique in the new all-action X-Men movie later this month.

And the new breed of female stars isn't just a film phenomenon - TV babes are also getting in on the act.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is best known for cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reckoned to be the pinnacle of feminist empowerment.

Her fighting skills are totally realistic as she is a Tae Kwon Do brown belt.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, who shot to fame in the TV hit Party of Five, is already more popular with 12 to 24-year-olds in the US than Friends star Jennifer Aniston or Roberts.

The part-time pop singer made the leap to movies in I Know What You Did Last Summer, but her latest role in The Audrey Hepburn Story has attracted controversy.

She admits there was so much criticism in the media about a fledgling TV actress attempting to play the legendary star that she began to doubt she could pull it off.

But her fine performance poured scorn on those who questioned her ability to play the actress she's idolised since she was seven.

Even those teen sensations who began in good girl roles, are now shedding their chick flick image as fast as possible, on screen and off.

Melissa Joan Hart may have magic powers as TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch but in real life she conjured up a new image when she posed for revealing photos in two men's magazines.

One even boasted: "Your favourite witch without a stitch."

The results were bewitching, but her bosses were furious with the pictures and her raunchy remarks in recent interviews.

The 23-year-old once said she was inspired to go into showbusiness by Shirley Temple. Now she is trying to bust out of her squeaky-clean TV image.

She said: "Sabrina's a wimp, especially when it comes to guys. I'll just tell a guy, 'I think you're cool.' I say it all the time, whether I'm dating him are not. That's how I met my boyfriend."

Joining her in dumping the nice girl image is Katie Holmes, the 20-year-old doe-eyed star of Dawson's Creek, who turned down the chance to play Buffy and lived to regret it.

So she jumped at the chance to play a seductive schoolgirl who has Michael Douglas in her sights in forthcoming film, The Wonder Boys.

Mena Suvari, 21, the chaste choirgirl in American Pie and American Beauty's rose covered vixen is to ditch high school for some college action in this summer's Loser.

Then she'll get in a bit of female assertiveness practice in Sugar and Spice, a girl-power black comedy, and D'Artagnan, an 18th Century musketeer caper.

She's also starring opposite a very different leading man - Bob Hoskins - in her new flick American Virgin.

At 20, Rachael Leigh Cook is living up to the title of her breakout movie She's All That with no fewer than eight films scheduled for the next year, including the title role in the live-action Josie and the Pussycats which begins shooting this summer.

She also stars with Sylvester Stallone in the remake of 70s classic Get Carter.

The new breed of girl star is a fighter off screen.

Charlize Theron has gone from outsider to star-in-the-making in a few short years, working with many of Hollywood's biggest names.

The South African blonde has already starred alongside Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in Devil's Advocate and has just finished working with Robert Redford, Matt Damon and Will Smith on The Legend of Bagger Vance.

It's a long way from Charlize's childhood in a small South African village where she would re-create scenes from some of her favourite films.

She said: "I remember when I saw Splash I felt jealousy, envy and a little bit of a crush - like Tom Hanks is so cute and who's the blonde and why can't I be her?

"I'd clean out the duck pond, get in and play the mermaid."

Charlize isn't the only non-American hoping to be crowned Queen of Hollywood.

Penelope Cruz, Spain's hottest actress, stars with Nicolas Cage in the World War Two romance Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

She recently finished filming All the Pretty Horses with Matt Damon in which she plays the daughter of a wealthy landowner who falls in love with Damon's character.

Rumour has it that the pair did not need acting classes for those scenes as Matt dumped long-term girlfriend Winona Ryder for the dark-eyed Spanish beauty.

But the biggest contenders for Roberts' crown look like being X-Men star Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Nic Cage's Gone in 60 Seconds co-star Angelina Jolie.

Rebecca, 28, made the leap to TV after eight years as a top model in Paris and New York when she hosted MTV's House of Style.

She scored big laughs in small but memorable guest appearance on Friends before landing the part of Mystique in X-Men, her biggest role to date.

For the role, 100 fragile scales were applied to her blue-painted skin every day.

She said: "It's kind of like being naked - the effect is that I'm nude but covered in scales.

"Mystique is a mean chick, mysterious and quiet. It was really cool to be a dark character who kicks butt."

Jolie, who won last year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Girl Interrupted, has been described, not as the new Roberts but the new James Dean.

She plays a tough, brash and beautiful car thief in Gone in 60 Seconds. She claims it's like a Ferrari - flashy, fast and very sexy - and certainly seems to attract a lot of attention, wanted or not.

Angelina, 25, is the daughter of Midnight Cowboy star Jon Voight and sprung a surprise last year when she tied the knot with 44-year-old actor-director Billy Bob Thornton.

She impressed critics and fans in made for TV films Gia and Wallace and went on to earn good notices in lacklustre films such as Hackers, Playing God and Playing By Heart.

Angelina recently turned down the chance to star opposite Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in the Charlie's Angels remake for another tough girl part.

Next year, she'll star as computer game heroine Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

She's currently in England getting in shape for the part with an intense physical workout of bungee, ballet, kickboxing and rowing.

"I'm going to love being Lara," she beams. "She's great and no-one gets in her way."

Maybe Ms Roberts should take the hint.

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