Paper Doll

In discussing her new film, "The Paper," Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei reveals a vivd imagination and a fondness for the neighbors.What goes through an Oscar nominee's mind as she sits in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, before a TV...

But Tomei's Oscar has brought her more than fame. It's given her "meatier" roles, like the lead in "Just in Time" (due out in June) about a woman who visits a tarot-card reader and learns the name of her soulmate. Tomei doesn't approve of the title, saying, "It kind of gives it away, don't you think?"

She's also up for a part in Mira Nair's "Viva Cuba," and, in fact, is leaving for the island later that week. And in March, in addition to working on stage in a Naked Angels production of "Fat Men in Skirts," her latest film, "The Paper," will open.

In "The Paper," Tomei is a former reporter who is married to the managing editor (Michael Keaton) of a New York daily (modeled after the New York Post). She's also eight-and-a-half-months pregnant.

"I'm a little nervous about it right now," Tomei confesses, explaining that she hasn't seen the final edit. "But I loved doing it. I even kept that thing on [a prosthesis of a pregnant belly] when I wasn't shooting. I walked around the city and went out to the Hamptons, it was great. Little grandmas would come up and talk to me -- it was that neighbor thing again!"

If an Oscar has helped Tomei get beyond such roles as a crazy woman on "As The World Turns," and Lisa Bonet's roommate on "A Different World," it hasn't made her enjoy giving interviews.

"It only seems like I'd have something profound to say," she says facetiously. "I don't."

As Tomei prepares to leave the diner and pulls her peacoat on over her basic navy suit -- not an outfit that would land her on People's worst-dressed list, as she was in October -- she grapples with the question of how an Oscar has changed things.

After searching, perhaps for something profound to say, she finally offers, "More phone calls?" But that's not good enough. Ten minutes after she's left the diner, she comes racing back in.

"I thought of it in the taxi," she says. "Deeper moments of self confidence and deeper moments of self doubt."
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