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Creativity seems to be an indefinable something that separates the artist from the rest of the world. You never know just what’s going to trigger it. For Jim Carrey it was a teacher, for Gillian Anderson it was failing an audition, for Tim Burton it was digging in his heels.


“I was in the second grade and my teacher was playing a record,” recalls Carrey. “I was mocking all the musicians. She said, `If you’re going to do that, do it in front of the whole class.’ And they went nuts. She asked me to do it at the Christmas assembly and from then on that was the only thing I could think of doing. I always knew I wanted to be funny.”


From the beginning Tim Burton saw with a unique vision. “Every kid draws,” he says, “it just gets beaten out of some people. By the time most kids are 10 they’ve been told, `You can’t draw like this.’ `You should draw like that.’ That’s why I always felt lucky that I never listened to anybody.”


Nicole Kidman says she decided to become an actress when she was 14. “I got my first job, and that was amazing. I remember jumping up and down and I earned $2,000 for the whole thing and thought, `I’m rich. I can buy a washing machine.’ At 14 somehow the idea of being able to buy a huge piece of machinery like that - why I wanted to own a washing machine I don’t know. It just seemed amazing that I could walk into a department store and say, `I’m going to buy that.’” But she didn’t - she bought pair of shoes instead.


Pierce Brosnan says he enjoyed going to the movies as youngster, but never thought of becoming an actor. “When I really thought about it, it was something much more highbrow. I saw a production of `Antigone’ at the Royal Court Theater in the days of La Mama and the Living Theater. I’d never been to the theater. I was 17. I saw this production which just stopped me in my tracks, and I began to read plays and joined an arts lab, a theater company, and that was it.”


Gillian Anderson says, “I don’t remember there being a moment when I knew. My mother seems to remember, as mothers do, that it was something I was interested in from very early on. I don’t remember that at all. I do know that when we were living in Michigan there wasn’t any theater at the school I was in but I went for an audition at the community theater for `Alice in Wonderland.’


“It was for the role of Alice and there were probably 200 girls there. And I remember not getting cast and thinking, `This isn’t for me’ ... Years later while I was in high school I got an internship at a theater and made friends with the guy who was the theater director and I told him that story.


“He said, `Hang on a second, were you that British girl?’ I said, `I had a British accent.’ He said, `We came this close to casting you but we didn’t because we’d never seen you before we didn’t know if you’d be able to pull it off. You hadn’t done anything in your life and we went with a girl who’d done productions in this community.’


“I’d also auditioned for another community play just before that and was cast and it changed something in me. I’d always been very rebellious, not a good student, very much into the underground punk scene and stuff like that. And when I did this play and experienced the stage with an audience it transformed me. And all of a sudden, my grades went up, I started to study it was like a piece of the puzzle had been put in.”


Teri Hatcher reports she never made the decision to become an actress. “I was a math major in college and dropped into a role on `The Love Boat’ as a glorified extra. Once I got down here I was fortunate enough to end up with opportunities like `The Big Picture,’ `Soap Dish,’ `Murphy Brown,’ `Night Court.’


“And I think I ran into really good people and was able to learn on the job and absorb from those talented people. And I do work really hard at whatever it is I was doing. The next thing I knew, I was having a career.”


Ray Romano recalls, “I remember me and my cousin fantasizing about putting on a big variety show. This was when we were like 10. But then as a teenager I joined up with a group of buddies of mine and we put on a talent show for the community, the church community where all the teenagers used to hang out in the basement ...


“This group of guys I hung out with, there were five of us, decided to put on a show around sketches like `Saturday Night Live’ and we did that and it was a big success. We did parodies of people in the neighborhood. We called ourselves No Talent Incorporated, I remember, and we put on about three of these shows. That was my first introduction to performing. I was very drawn to it after that.


“But standup I didn’t really consider. I was a fan of standup and I watched them and would record them on TV but never entertained the thought of doing it until a friend of mine told me about audition night at a club. He told me the whole procedure where one after another of these guys auditioning would get up. I thought, `Why don’t I try it?’ That’s the first time I really thought about doing it, the first time ever.”


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One of the funniest comedies of the last 20 years has to be “When Harry Met Sally ...” the film that asks that perpetually pesky question: Can friends be lovers too? The Collectors’ DVD of that film hits stores on Jan. 15. Who would’ve thought that Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal could link up as such a perfectly conflicted pair? The new edition will feature deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Rob Reiner, writer Nora Ephron and Crystal. The disc also includes seven featurettes about the making of the film.


Crystal, who began as a comic, says it’s easy for actors to lie on camera, but deadly to try it. “You don’t feel good about it. You can fake it but the audience knows. To be really good and honest, you know the difference between good and exceptional. The audience will tell you whether you move them or whether they laugh or don’t laugh. (You need to express) real interesting, natural behavior to capture on screen the way the really great movie actors do - it’s a rare gift to do that on camera over and over again.”


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Dick Clark will be back for the 36th time counting down the minutes as 2007 slips into 2008 on New Years Eve with his “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC. He’ll be sharing the evening with the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest (when does that guy sleep?) Grammy-winning artist Fergie will host and perform during party part of the do.


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Adam Arkin, who’s costarring on “Life,” says it was a big surprise when his father, Alan Arkin, won last year’s Academy Award as best supporting actor for “Little Miss Sunshine.” “I had bought into the conventional wisdom at the time that kind of said Eddie Murphy was the favorite and I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” says Arkin.


“And it was just a thrill. And then along with that being a thrill, it was just very surprising when he got as emotional as he did during the acceptance speech, so there was not a dry eye in our house.”


Arkin did watch the show from his home, not at the theater. “We had the opportunity to go, but we wouldn’t have gotten to be sitting with him, and I felt like if I was going to subject myself to that level of hysteria, I at least wanted to be able to be next to him.”

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