Since Kids director Larry Clark discovered Rosario Dawson on her front stoop, the 22-year-old New Yorker has had remarkable luck. She now divides her time between acting in arthouse films and big-budget studio fare like Josie and the Pussycats and the upcoming Men in Black 2. Though sunny Hollywood beckons, Dawson refuses to abandon the Big Apple.

"Hell yeah, I'd rather stay in New York," she tells TV Guide Online. "I love working at home!" She just filmed newbie director Ethan Hawke's stark Chelsea Walls — a low-budget production done in a bare New York hotel room with a digital camera.

Dawson says shooting MIB 2 in L.A. made for a drastic change of pace. "The stakes are much higher because there's so much money involved," says the big-screen alien buster. "But if you forget all that and get into it, it's so much fun. Otherwise, you could just feel really stupid and silly because you're screaming at a piece of tape on a blue screen."

And of course, playing Will Smith's love interest provided plenty of distraction, too. "I had to kiss him on the day of his wife's (Jada Pinkett Smith) birthday — and she was on set with their kids. That was really odd!"

Jada didn't seem to mind, but Dawson did endure a few injuries from her hyperactive co-star. "Will's like a kid plugged into a 24-hour socket," she laughs. "After doing Ali, he was punching things all the time. In between takes, I got bruises. It's all good, though!"