The Most Beautiful Cast of the World
Could it be?    by Gary Susman

Pouty lips. Eyes to melt into. Hair that obeys their every command. Cheekbones to die for. And that's just the guys. Is it fair that these three young stars (and the breathtaking Jennifer Connelly and Joanna Going, who plays the eldest Abbott sister) get paid millions of dollars because of great bone structure? No. But then that's why they call it Hollywood instead of Real World Town, O.K.? There is a plot to Inventing the Abbotts, but we promise that you'll find it more enjoyable to just stare. Or see it once for details and again to drool. You won't be able to help yourself. Now, meet three members of the most beautiful cast in the world: 

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix is very affable, energetic and funny, though very reluctant to talk about his personal life. You might be, too, if your brother was the late River Phoenix and your live-in love was Liv Tyler -- especially if she was your romantic partner in your new film as well as off-screen. In Inventing the Abbotts, Phoenix plays Doug Holt, a poor but clean-cut lad whose chaste friendship with well-to-do Pamela Abbott (Tyler) blossoms over the years into an adult romance.
Lacking the rebellious spirit of his brother (Billy Crudup), Doug is a far cry from the moody delinquents Phoenix played in Parenthood and most notably in To Die For (he was the besotted teen Nicole Kidman seduced into killing her  husband). If his series of sensitive-boy roles threatens to make the 22-year-old actor a star in spite of himself -- like his brother -- his turn as a jealous, macho thug in Oliver Stone's upcoming U-Turn should keep him from further typecasting.

How did you become an actor?

I was very young. I just fell into it. My brother [River] was doing a TV series, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and they needed a young boy and a young girl. I suppose it was just cheaper for the producers because we were there. So me and my sister [Rain] did it. And I just moved on, doing little TV shows throughout the '80s.

When did you realize that your family was unique?

I never felt that we were different. I still don't. When you grow up in it, it's just your life. Traveling around, I always felt very comfortable and very  stable. We're traveling around in the van, and to  me, that was home.

Did you draw on personal experience for the  brotherly relationship in Abbotts?

I don't make comparisons between myself and the characters I play. I'm not really interested in those scenarios.

What is it about you that led director Pat O'Connor to cast you as Doug?

I think it has something to do with me threatening his life. I know where he lives. No, we met in a cafe and talked for an hour about the film. Then I had to audition. We just understand each other and get along well. He's got a great sense of humor, and we both just bounced off each other.

You're so demanding in your choice of scripts  that you allowed six years to go by between Parenthood and To Die For. Why?

There's not many good scripts out there. I'll read a script and think, "Oh, this is terrible. They're never going to get anyone to do it." Then I see who's  doing it, and I'm shocked. Did I miss something? It's all very personal why you're attracted to something.

Were you offered a lot of similar roles after To Die For?

After To Die For, the first thing I was offered was a movie of the week where a woman seduces her  student and asks him to kill her husband. I will always turn down what doesn't interest me. If I feel I've already experienced that and got it out of my system, I just won't do that anymore.

Do you deliberately avoid scripts that look too  obviously commercial?

As much as it's important that the film get seen, I must admit that I'm selfish, and that it's really just about me doing work and enjoying it. I'm not caught up in how well it does. The most important thing is something that touches me. I love the process. After it's done, it's, like, whatever.

What's your role in U-Turn?

Me and Claire Danes just have three scenes with Sean Penn. I'm just one of the maniacs who make him realize how important it is that he leave this terrible little town. That was fun.

How did things progress between you and Liv Tyler?

We just hit it off immediately. From the first day you meet someone in rehearsal, you can see how it's going to go, and it was clear we were on the same wavelength, that we wanted to do the same things with the film. Of course, during the screen test, I was like, "There's going to be some f--king chemistry. I don't care who the actress is." It wasn't until we started talking that I realized what an honest, genuine person she was. My reaction was, "I'll just have a great friend." I didn't plan on becoming lovers. I just felt like, "My God, this is a  kind of person I haven't met too much of recently."