'The Rock' Rocks a New Image: Family-Film Star

Throwing Dwayne Johnson across a room isn't easy.

Andy Fickman learned that the hard way. The director of "Race to Witch Mountain," out today, searched for weeks to find an actor who could toss the 6-foot-4, 250-pound hulk across a stage.

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Cruise stays grounded while his career skyrockets

BURBANK, Calif. — "Welcome," Tom Cruise beckons, his arms spread wide and his smile spread wider. "Welcome to beautiful 19th-century Tokyo."

Of course, Cruise isn't in the 19th century, or Tokyo, or Japan, for that matter. He is standing in the nearly abandoned back lots of Warner Bros. studios, where parts of his new movie, "The Last Samurai," were filmed.

The lot looks nothing like the backdrop for Cruise's first historical epic, which opens nationwide today after a "sneak-peek" run in 550 theaters Saturday. The cardboard shrines and phony village fronts were taken down months ago. The thousands of extras who populate the film have moved on. All Cruise has left from the elaborate sets are snapshots.

"Look at that!" he says, thumbing through each picture. " Doesn't that look real? I've made a lot of movies. It's still magic to me."

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Leonardo DiCaprio is flying high 


Leonardo DiCaprio looks older than you'd think.


Leonardo DiCaprio had been trying for years before "The Aviator" to bring a biography of airman and playboy Howard Hughes to life.

Miramax Films photosStanding 6-feet-1 and sporting a goatee and slicked-back hair, DiCaprio carries himself deliberately. He doesn't walk; he saunters. He speaks intensely, mulling his

words while locking his eyes on you. He looks all of his 30 years, if not more. There's only a trace of the boy who starred seven years ago in the biggest box- office hit of all time.

DiCaprio concedes that he still gets the "aren't you that kid from 'Titanic'?" comment on the streets. But make no mistake: He is a boy no more.

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In the 'Breaking Bad' writer's room, death looms

BURBANK, Calif. -- Vince Gilligan tends to pace when he's thinking of ways to kill someone.

The carpet in Breaking Bad's writers room here, where the show's scripts are hashed out, is wearing thin.

Gilligan is pacing, circling his table, fielding suggestions from his half-dozen writers about the fate of a key character in the show he created six years ago that begins its final run of episodes Sunday on AMC (9 ET/PT).

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'I can still cause trouble'


BEVERLY HILLS — A sign over the doorbell of Jack Nicholson's home asks visitors: Please, don't ring before 10 a.m.

Nicholson is a bit sheepish about the reason.

"It ain't 'cause I'm partying every night, I'll tell you that," he says, padding down the stairs of his split-level ranch house as he tucks a blue Izod polo shirt into his khakis. "It just seems like a good time of day. And, to be honest, I need the sleep. I'm getting into my later years."

Jack Nicholson is not who you think. Sometimes, Nicholson says, he's not who he thinks.

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