The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The first time he saw the poster for Prince Caspian with himself decked out in armor, looking dashing as all get-out Ben Barnes did a double take. ''I just looked at the producers and asked, 'Is that sensible?''' he says. Fair question. Aside from a small turn in last year's Stardust, the British-born actor, 26, is a newbie, and having the C.S. Lewis fantasy on his shoulders is daunting. Following 2005's $292 million hit The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the sequel picks up 1,300 years later in Narnia (or one year later in our world), as the Pevensie children return to the magical world and find a despot in power and Caspian (Barnes) rebelling. ''This film is definitely grittier and darker,'' says director Andrew Adamson. Barnes, who was plucked off a London stage, was given appropriately royal treatment. ''I walked on the set the first day, and the first assistant director said, 'This is Ben Barnes. Please don't stand within five feet of him or look him directly in the eye,''' he says. ''A couple of people looked at me warily for a few days until they worked out it was a joke.''
You Don't Mess With the Zohan
When Emmanuelle Chriqui first arrived on the New York set of the Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan, she was quaking. ''I was a wreck,'' she remembers. It wasn't her comedy-kingpin costar or even the outlandish character he was playing: a wild Israeli commando who's turned hairdresser. What rattled her was that she had to sound convincing as a Palestinian. Forget the Zohan if you're in your breakout movie role, you don't mess with the accent. ''When you have to do a dialect, you just can't f -- - around,'' says Chriqui, who was born in Canada and is of Moroccan and Jewish descent. ''You either have it or you don't.'' It seems Chriqui has it. She turned a three-episode run on HBO's Entourage (as Eric's girlfriend) into a three-year arc, and now the actress, 30, has vaulted into this key role as Zohan's hair-salon boss and love interest. The comic absurdity of playing a Palestinian woman paired with a deadly Israeli hairstylist isn't lost on her. ''I'm sure you're going to have people that are just like, 'I can't believe this movie is being made!''' she says. ''But this movie isn't for those people.''
Watching Hannah Bailey wade her way through high school in American Teen is as heartbreaking and exhilarating as watching Juno MacGuff. But Juno was a figment of someone's imagination. Bailey is absolutely, positively the real thing. Shot like a classed-up version of The Hills, Nanette Burstein's documentary American Teen follows four real Indiana students, all of them dealing with heavy emotional burdens and in the process of figuring out who they are. In the film, Bailey lives with her grandmother because her mother is too depressed to take care of her, endures a crushing breakup that incapacitates her for weeks, and faces down her naysaying parents. ''It's all the embarrassing stuff,'' says Bailey, now 20 and studying film at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. ''But it's also good stuff. It's not like taking parts of my personality and trying to make a new person out of me. It actually is me.'' Most of Bailey's college friends have not yet seen the movie. ''I'm just a friend,'' she says. ''Not like a famous friend or anything.'' Yet.
Stone didn't get much conventional schooling, but thanks to last year's Superbad and this summer's The House Bunny, she's getting an education on screen. ''I left my freshman year to come out to Los Angeles, so I didn't really experience high school,'' says the Arizona native. ''I shot Superbad in what would have been my senior year, and instead I was making a movie about senior year. In [Bunny], I am supposed to be in college, and instead I'm making a movie about being in college.'' Bunny concerns a Playboy Playmate (Anna Faris) who gets kicked out of the mansion, then ends up housemother of the sorority where Stone's character is president. Think Legally Blonde with more cleavage. The 19-year-old Stone, who's now shooting a comedy with Matthew McConaughey, has been in demand after her feisty turn as the sassy object of Jonah Hill's affections in Superbad. Stone was one of the few women on that set, but Bunny was virtually all women. ''There was really no cattiness,'' says Stone. ''I made some great friends on that set.'' Wait no cattiness at a sorority house? So much for realism.
Steve Daly, Jeff Jensen, Chris Nashawaty, Missy Schwartz, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, Adam B. Vary, Josh Wolk