In Martin Scorsese's hotly anticipated epic film Gangs of New York (opening Dec. 20), Cameron Diaz plays a feisty pickpocket who steals Leonardo DiCaprio's heart. It's a profession the actress admits she grew quite fond of over the course of the movie's shoot. "I can see how it would be fun, because every pocket and every victim is a challenge," she tells TV Guide Online. "I don't see how it could [ever get] redundant, unless you're picking the same pocket over and over again."

Diaz mastered the art of thievery by shadowing a world-class filcher known simply as The Magician. "He was a pickpocket for 30 some-odd years," she explains of her mysterious mentor. "He made his living that way in Rome and raised his family off of his earnings — or other people's earnings."

The 30-year-old Charlie's Angels star — who says she's never been the victim of a purse-diver — insists the gig doesn't really require a great deal of skill. "It's really easy, actually," she points out. "It's really the art of distraction.

"Pickpocketing is much like choreography; it's a dance," she adds. "You have to position yourself with your unknowing partner, and you're the leader. You're the one who sets them up for the dip, basically."

But as Diaz notes, there's one surefire way to avoid taking a fall. "It's difficult to pick a pocket if there's nothing in the pocket," she laughs. "My advice is to keep your belongings in a safe place where others cannot get to it."