It's not surprising that director Michael Cristofer cast Jerry O'Connell as a football player in the provocative drama Body Shots.  O'Connell has practically owned the patent on hard-bods ever since he played Cush the quarterback in Jerry Maguire.  "I'm six-two, which is very tall in Hollywood, and I tend to be pretty athletic," he points out.  "If you're casting a young professional football player in L.A., I'm gonna be one of the first ones you call."  What is surprising is that Cristofer would cast O'Connell as this particular player - a time bomb who ignites a date-rape controversy.  "He's not the sweetest, most sensitive guy," admits the 25-year-old actor.  How did his Body Shots costars - Tara Reid, Amanda Peet and Sean Patrick Flanery, - deal with him in his nasty incarnation?  "We basically went out every night after work and partied," he says.  "But I was just doing it for research.  If anyone did see me out at any point a few months ago, mumbling and stumbling to a cab, I was doing it strictly  for my craft."  O'Connell will be forever remembered for his screen debut at age 11 as the chubster Vern in Stand By Me, but people know him more recently as the far slimmer star of TV's "Sliders."  Currently busy filming Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars, O'Connell takes a no-sweat view of Hollywood ups and downs.  When he's not acting, he writes screenplays, tools around in his $2,000 Buick Centurion convertible, rides the Malibu waves, plays the ponies at Santa Anita, and downs venti lattes at Starbucks.  "A lot of my actor acquaintances, when they're not working, go through serious, deep dark depression," he says.  "I tend not to get depressed - I see that as no way to live.  I mean, I've got a convertible with a surfboard in it.  I should be worried?"

- Wolf Schneider