In the new film Timeline (opening Wednesday), Can't Hardly Wait cutie Ethan Embry gets a chance to play a physicist who watches as his colleagues get sucked back into the medieval era. Was he bummed that he was stuck in the present day while his costars got to don period garb and engage in swordplay?

"I was jealous until I saw the movie," Embry tells TV Guide Online. "Then [I saw that] they were running around and jumping in cold rivers and being shot at with burning arrows."

Despite his modern wardrobe, the Sweet Home Alabama scene-stealer is almost unrecognizable thanks to a goatee, bleached blonde hair and a very skinny figure. Speaking of which, why does a scientist need to be so thin? "At the time, I was going to play Nightcrawler [in X2: X-Men United]," the 25-year-old notes. "So I was working out at night, and I was [on] a diet. I was doing that Atkins thing, which was crazy. It sucks. It is terrible. I'm back to pasta now."

The disappointment over losing the X2 role to Alan Cumming was nothing compared to how Embry felt when he got squeezed out of ABC's Dragnet remake, where he played Ed O'Neill's crime-fighting partner. After a low-rated first season, producer Dick Wolf revamped the show, ditching the buddy cop premise in favor of an ensemble (not to mention a new title, L.A. Dragnet). It has since been axed.

"It made me sad," he admits of Dragnet's makeover. "I liked the show and I thought what we were doing was good. And chemistry with Ed is really easy for me to do because I love the guy. He's like my dad; he taught me everything."