IT Recovering Band Geek
ALYSON HANNIGAN

AGE 29
WHY HER? Hannigan first made an impression as Willow, the sweet witch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then she took her flute to band camp and came back a changed woman -- smart, tart, girl-next-door sexy -- proving that she could do more than back up Buffy. Her spell-casting days now in syndication, the funny girl with flaming hair stakes her claim as a leading lady in the third slice of the American Pie franchise, American Wedding.
WHEN SHE KNEW SHE WANTED TO BE AN ACTRESS ''Birth,'' laughs Hannigan, who started doing commercials when she was 4.
ROLE MODEL ''I used to really admire Jodie Foster's career. Now it's not that I don't admire it, it's just that since she doesn't work as much, there's less to admire.'' She pauses. ''How do I say that without pissing her off?''
HOW SHE SAID ''SAY MY NAME, BITCH'' Nothing wilted her Willowy image more than this kinky, ad-libbed line in the first American Pie. ''I must've been channeling a demon from Buffy. Now I walk down the street, and people shout it at me.''
WORST JOB A video store that did a booming porn business. ''Every Saturday, I'd get these sweaty videos returned.''
NEXT After Wedding, she'd love to do a sitcom.

IT 'SNL' Veteran Who Deserves a Movie Career
CHERI OTERI

AGE ''Thirtysomething, like that show.''
WHY HER? She's not afraid to go over the top -- most recently, with her turn as the evil lunch lady in Dumb and Dumberer.
DUMBEST CAREER GAFFE ''The hairstylist [for Liar Liar] did all these braids in my hair that stuck straight up and I'm like, 'Whatever, it's just one day.' Little did I know that it was going to be the same hairstyle throughout the whole movie.''
NEXT Writing a semiautobiographical TV series.

IT Heartthrob
JOSH LUCAS

AGE 31
WHY HIM? With the bluest eyes since Paul Newman and charisma to match, the Arkansas native has managed to steal his scenes in A Beautiful Mind and Sweet Home Alabama away from his more famous costars. It's no wonder A-list directors (Ron Howard, Ang Lee, Lasse Hallstrom) are lining up to work with the guy.
WHY HE LIKES HIS DARK SIDE ''I can be a somewhat prickly person,'' says Lucas, who plays the heavy in The Hulk and an ex-con in Undertow, directed by heralded young auteur David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls). ''I think I work a lot of that stuff out in my characters so I don't have to have it as strongly in my life.''
FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE His antinuke-activist parents traveled from town to town, setting up organizations and protests. Consequently, young Josh evolved into a chameleon. ''I'd lie in bed the night before starting a new school and literally choose who I wanted to be -- jock, nerd, whatever. I'm not terribly comfortable about that, looking back on it,'' says Lucas. Getting into acting gave him an outlet for his self-diagnosed ''schizophrenia.''
HOBBIES Soccer, sailing, and a weekly card game with some Southern friends. ''But I feel hobby-weak,'' he laughs.
NEXT After criminal turns in Undertow and Wonderland, Lucas will play a romantic leading man opposite J. Lo in Hallstrom's An Unfinished Life, due next year.

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