What red-blooded American male would complain about being a teen lust object? Well, there's Ryan Phillippe, for one. A creature of contradiction, the pouty-lipped actor has always yearned to be taken seriously — while paying the bills with splashy, campy teen fare like Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Now, at the ripe old age of 27, he's edging toward making peace with the consequences of his career decisions.

"When I was 23 and 24, they wanted to associate me with these teen things, and I felt like, 'I can do more than that!'" says Phillippe. "It gets to be a little frustrating because throughout my career, I've [also] done independent films. What I end up having to do is make those decisions that prove [my abilities] to people. The movies I've done in the past three years are quite different from a lot of my contemporaries."

What's Phillippe's next big move? He plays a shady servant in Robert Altman's 1930s murder mystery, Gosford Park (opening Dec. 26). And despite taking pride in the diversity of his roles over 13 films, the One Life to Live alum admits that regrets... he's had a few. "There have definitely been films I had to make excuses for," he blushes, "like AntiTrust and 54."

The year 2002 will hopefully bring bigger banner days for Mr. Reese Witherspoon. He's caught the producing bug, and plans to work behind the camera in four upcoming movies. He's especially excited about co-producing and co-starring in The Flying Smiths with his lovely wife. But while his enthusiasm is clearly visible, Phillippe still sees roadblocks ahead.

"This is not a business that benefits [career] transitions," he says. "People want to have you safely classified in some digestible way. It's a challenge, but I like it."