Profane trash talk comes as naturally to Next Friday star Mike Epps as breathing. So co-starring in the gospel-infused movie The Fighting Temptations (opening Sept. 19) proved quite challenging for him.

"This is the first movie that I've been in that I haven't cursed," Epps admits. "In all the other movies I've been in, I've cursed a hundred miles an hour.

"I can remember the first scene that I was in," he adds. "I must have said 'M.F.' three times before [Temptations director] Jonathan Lynn had to stop me and say, 'This ain't that movie, Mike.' I was like, 'Okay, let me get the vocab right.'"

While filming his next project, Resident Evil: Apocalypse (due out in 2004), Epps got right back into his bad habits. "They wrote a little cool guy in the movie that's cursin'," he laughs. "It's back to the R-rated, but this has been so great. I've gotten a chance to hold some guns and shoot them without going to jail!"

How did the foul-mouthed How High star land a role in the big-budget horror sequel in the first place? "The producer [Paul Anderson] called me up and offered it to me," he says. "It was strange, because I'm like, 'Wow, he knows who I am.' And when I got on the set, he's talking with his whole [British] accent, and I'm like, 'Man, how do you know me?' And he's like, 'Man, you know, we smoke marijuana, too.'

"It was the marijuana connection!" Epps marvels. "Damn, it is amazing what drugs in a movie do." Remember kids, just say no.