Tobey Maguire loved being enigmatic in Wonder Boys, playing a college student who fascinates his creative writing teacher (

Michael Douglas) and confuses him by making up stories about his life. "The movie is so surprising," Maguire explains. "You don't know what's going to happen next. Like when the dog gets shot, you wonder, 'Where did that come from?'

"I guess it's a little bit dramatic," he admits, "but I play a guy who's read a lot of books and watched a lot of films, and he feels like he's the hero in his own movie. He could have given the dog a kick but I guess he thought it would be more heroic to shoot him."

Maguire says no dogs were harmed during the production. "We carry a dead dog around for a good part of the film, but they actually gave us this weird stuffed animal to [hold]. They'd be saying, 'Wiggle it a little to make it look real.' It was weird, but I've done a lot of stuff as an actor so nothing shocks me at this point."

The young actor felt déjà vu when he heard the Wonder Boys soundtrack featuring "Old Man" by Neil Young. "It happens to be one of my favorite songs. I had this idea for a movie I was going to write in which it would be a central theme. I'm not much of a writer so I never did a script, but at least the song and I are finally in the same film." ? Jeanne Wolf