Alice in Wonderland

NEW YORK — Landing the backing of Miramax has its perks, as actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Renée Zellweger well know. Through its distribution of “City of God,” the shocking and violent film that traces the decline of a favela in Rio de Janeiro during the Sixties and Seventies, the studio has added another “Miramax girl” to its unofficial stable — Alice Braga, the winsome Brazilian who plays Angelica, every teenage gang member’s dream girl, in the film.

This story first appeared in the May 6, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Though Hollywood might be an unknown entity to her, the film industry is not. “I was born in the middle of cinema,” says the husky-voiced 20-year-old during a recent trip to the city from her home in São Paulo. Her father is a director of short films and TV, her mother is a former actress and her aunt, Sonia Braga, known as the “Brazilian Bombshell,” is a soap opera actress turned international sex symbol who has starred in films opposite Marcello Mastroianni and William Hurt.

In Brazil, Alice has appeared in commercials for everything from McDonald’s to cola to chewing gum. But “City of God” was her first major role, won after a test audition opposite the all-boy cast. “I loved them!” she trills in her accented English. Though she’s auditioning for more roles, Alice already boasts the enviable connections of an established star. She has a rocker boyfriend, who plays bass for the Brazilian musician, Djavan, and is holed up in fashion designer Carlos Miele’s apartment during her stay here.

But she still has much to learn when it comes to the who’s who of Stateside filmmaking. When asked if she’s met Harvey Weinstein, the actress looks befuddled.

“No, I haven’t,” she says. “Who is he?”

— Alison Oneacre

Hulk Hunk

LOS ANGELES — If playing a moody teen on a WB show isn’t a surefire way to get noticed in Hollywood, then starring in a highly anticipated Ang Lee film will probably do the trick (it worked for Katie Holmes). Mike Erwin, the dark-haired, dimpled heartthrob of “Everwood,” will play the teenage Bruce Banner in Lee’s big-screen version of “The Hulk,” bowing in June.

Erwin, 24, schmoozed talent agents at model searches until he convinced one to recruit him to Hollywood. “I wanted to speak, not smile,” says the Texas native.

His first acting job was a walk-on in “American Pie.” “I said one line, it was cool,” he laughs.

But Erwin isn’t your typical young turk. Unlike his peers partying their way through Hollywood, he prefers playing chess with his girlfriend and catching up on his sleep. “Oh, and I’ll go to ‘The Hulk’ premiere if they invite me,” he says.

Just don’t expect him to turn up all dudded out in designer gear. “Hell, I don’t know anything about fashion,” he says. “I’m from Texas, where it’s all about a T-shirt and jeans.”

And now that his show is on hiatus, how does Erwin plan to spend his summer? “I’ve got to find a summer job. I’m not making $20 million a movie yet.”

— Marcy Medina

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