Movie File: Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen, ‘Transformers’ & More

Beckinsale practices her Russian; Alba tries comedy; Christensen channels Dylan.

Watching Kate Beckinsale as sexy vampire Selene most definitely doesn’t suck, but the “Underworld” actress is nevertheless making plans to put away her leather one-piece. “Sometimes you do need to do a few other things; [maybe I'll return if] I’m 55 and they still want me to get into that suit,” she laughed. Instead she’s in negotiations to star in an intense spy drama that begins shooting this fall. “I’m probably going to do ‘April 23rd,’ which is set during the Cold War and will be the only opportunity I’ve had so far to [speak] the Russian that I got a degree in [at Oxford University's New College], so that will be nice.” Beckinsale couldn’t name her director or co-stars just yet but did divulge some details about the script that won her over: “It’s about a Russian spy who comes into America and has to be completely undercover. He has a wife who doesn’t know he’s a Russian; it’s actually a beautiful story. It’s a serious drama.” …

Don’t worry, Jessica Alba fans — her stint as MTV Movie Awards host won’t have the sexy star quitting her day job just yet. Alba has signed on to star in “Bill,” giving a rare comedic performance as a sexy saleswoman who comes into the life of a world-weary professional. The title role will be played by “Thank You for Smoking” star Aaron Eckhart, and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”‘s Elizabeth Banks will play Eckhart’s disloyal wife. Filming begins this week in the St. Louis area, with a targeted release sometime in 2007. …

Darth Vader, the times they are a-changin’! Hayden Christensen recently wrapped one of his first post-”Star Wars” projects, an indie film that had him channeling one of rock and roll’s biggest legends. “In ‘Factory Girl,’ I play this sort of folk-singer star, based on a Bob Dylan-ish sort of character,” said Christensen. “It’s a movie about Edie Sedgwick, who was this actress and New York socialite back in the ’60s. She was hanging out with Dylan briefly.” Featuring Sienna Miller as Sedgwick, Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol and cameos by Jimmy Fallon and Mary-Kate Olsen, the drama gave Christensen a chance to transform into one of his idols, a job he said was made easier by his natural tendency to mumble. “I do that on my own anyway,” he laughed. “I definitely took my cue from Dylan. I’m a massive fan.” The film is due in theaters this fall, and Christensen hopes it will give him an excuse to rub elbows with the tambourine man himself at the premiere. “I’ve never met the man,” the actor lamented. “But maybe, one day.” …

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Tyrese Gibson has been an actor, singer and model, so it’s no surprise that he’s hard at work on a film that offers fans more than meets the eye. “I grew up on ‘Transformers,’ ” he said of the 1980s cartoon that is currently being made into a big-budget action flick. “It’s a $200 million budget, and they are having a good time out there,” Gibson reported, stepping away briefly from the New Mexico Air Force base that has been his home for three weeks of filming. “We are doing it up. It’s going to be special.” Still marveling over the vehicles he has seen, the actor said he couldn’t divulge any details about the classic Transformers (Optimus Prime, Megatron, etc.) or the new additions that will appear in the November 2007 movie. “The film is top-secret. They’ve got me on a straight tight lip on this one. But the director, Michael Bay, is doing an incredible job. [Producer Steven] Spielberg pops his head around the set all the time. It’s been crazy, man; it’s a dream package for me. I love all the characters.” When asked for any kind of “Transformers: The Movie” script details, Gibson could only shrug and offer up the little that he is allowed to say: “My character’s name is Epps.” …

Justin Timberlake is used to spending long hours in a recording studio, but even he admits that the sessions for “Shrek the Third” have been epic. “It’s the never-ending recording,” he laughed when asked about his cartoon debut, due in theaters next May. Working alongside Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and girlfriend Cameron Diaz, Timberlake is voicing “Artie,” a spoiled young version of King Arthur. Asked about the plot, the musician/actor revealed that Shrek and the gang will do some growing up this time around: “There are a lot of adult issues. I was actually surprised.” …

“Let Me Love You” singer Mario is loving his future in Hollywood, with two films soon to be released (August’s hip-hop/ballet hybrid “Step Up” and the Hilary Swank drama “Freedom Writers” in January) and a “Ray”-like biopic that could have him swinging for the fences. “I’m looking at a script right now called ‘Shadow Ball.’ … It’s basically about Jackie Robinson‘s life,” the 19-year-old beamed. “[I love] the way the script was written. I just thought it was great, the story behind Jackie Robinson. For those teens that are my age, that may not know about Jackie Robinson and how he influenced African-Americans in sports and everything, I think it would be a great way to introduce you to him.” Mario would play the barrier-breaking ballplayer if the project goes forward, but for now he’ll just keep his fingers crossed. “I’m excited about it, so pray for me, man. I’m looking forward to that one.” …

Howard Stern might want to offer up a toast to longtime companion Artie Lange, who recently wrapped a raunchy new comedy about beer, babes and balls. The “Old School” and “Elf” supporting actor hits the big time this fall with “Beer League,” a comedy about an unemployed drunk who lives with his mom and plays on a softball team filled with losers — until a brawl results in their proposed expulsion. The flick is overflowing with random supporting stars like Jim Breuer and Tina Fey and even Ralph Macchio. The flick is due in theaters September 15. …

Every actor’s gotta have a passion project, and for Keanu Reeves, it’s the long-in-development noir flick “The Night Watchman.” Despite rumors to the contrary, Reeves said the project has not landed director Oliver Stone and remains in limbo. “There’s no director,” said the former Neo/ Johnny Utah/ Ted “Theodore” Logan. “We’re still trying to work on the script. It’s kind of being developed. We’re still trying to figure it out. It would be great if it could happen.” Still, Reeves insisted that the script by “L.A. Confidential” writer James Ellroy is most excellent and that he’s determined to get it off the ground. “It’s about an L.A. cop, and it’s kind of hard-boiled. It’s a guy who’s lost his wife, an alcoholic. Is he a racist? Is he not? He’s kind of this tough street cop whose life is out of control.”

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