• Image about gabrielle-union-hancock-eddie-murphy-will-smith-americanway
Let’s start with what we already know about Gabrielle Union, who costars opposite Eddie Murphy in this month’s Meet Dave. First, she’s gorgeous. That’s a given. Perhaps the thing that’s most attractive about Union, though, isn’t her stop-you-in-your-tracks dimples or her spellbinding eyes but her UCLA-educated mind. We know, we know: It’s cliché. But in Union’s case, it’s also true. The woman has strong opinions, and she isn’t afraid to share them. Want to know how she feels about the glass ceiling or to find out the real reason she got into filmmaking? (Hint: It wasn’t for “the art.”) Read on -- that is, if you can stop staring at this photo long enough to turn the page.

[dl] Movies
The Union Movement
Meet Gabrielle Union. She is not Ashanti -- obviously. By Allison Winn Scotch

Gabrielle Union is being tailed on the freeway. “Oh my God, he’s honking,” she tells me by cell phone. “This is so weird.” She shouts to the other driver, “Please, go away!” “Maybe he recognizes you,” I suggest. “No, he thinks I am someone else,” she says. “It happens all the time. He is probably thinking he’s chasing down Garcelle or Ashanti or Brandy.” Eventually, her suitor drives past her, and Union laughs it off. “I’ve done whole in-person interviews where someone has mixed me up,” she says.

It’s hard to fathom that Union, with her tall frame, striking good looks, and career success -- she has been working steadily for more than a decade, appearing in megahits like Friends and Ugly Betty and in blockbusters such as Bad Boys II and Bring It On -- could be mistaken for anyone else. Though she is now occasionally misidentified, she may not be for much longer. This month, Union is poised to shoot to the stratosphere -- nearly literally -- when she costars opposite Eddie Murphy in Meet Dave. They play tiny aliens who come to Earth in a spaceship designed in the form of a human. Or something like that. So, weird honking guy on the freeway, get used to this. It’s Gabrielle Union.

  • Image about gabrielle-union-hancock-eddie-murphy-will-smith-americanway

You started your career as a model. Is it a love of acting that’s led you to where you are today? I fell in love with the money, to be honest. I was a student at UCLA and was making $6.16 an hour as a book-buyback supervisor. As a model, I was working a whole day for $100. I thought, This is awesome! I am rich! When I started booking acting jobs, I paid off a third of my student loans two weeks later. Eventually, I started getting into studying acting, not just cashing the checks. I really began to love it, and that is when I decided that as long as I can make a living, and as long as I do not inconvenience my parents, I am going to do this. I have never stopped making money, either, though, to be brutally honest.

You know who makes a lot of money acting? Eddie Murphy. And Will Smith. And Jennifer Aniston. You’ve acted alongside all of them. Is being on set with those people like being in a master’s class? Yeah, I am always learning. But it is not necessarily just from the big names. There are people who are amazing actors who have never gotten a shot. And I generally learn more from them. Certainly, their biggest lesson is humility. You can go from being the hottest thing, the “it” person, to unemployed very quickly in this business.

So the prospect of it all being taken away is still in the back of your mind? Oh, absolutely. Unless you are making $20 million a picture, you are fooling yourself.

You’ve been outspoken about the glass ceiling for black actors. Do you still feel like you’re ramming your head up against it? Definitely. A casting director can always say, “She just wasn’t right,” and I can’t respond, “But look at my résumé versus this person’s. Look what my movies have done.” In any other profession, you can quantify your attributes and say, “Look, this is clearly not fair.” But it doesn’t work like that for us. So if you choose to be in this business, you are also choosing to deal with this reality, and you try to do whatever is in your power to make as many small changes as possible, hopefully for the next generation.

It sounds like you’ve seen people gutted by the business. I have a lot of people tell me that they want to be an actress. And I’m like, Do you want to be famous, or do you want to be an actress? Those are two different things. If you love acting more than anything, you would be just as happy doing Pippin in Poughkeepsie as you would be working with Cameron Diaz. If you want to be famous and maybe your dad didn’t give you enough attention at home, you are not in the right business, and the likelihood of your making it is not really good.

Okay, so before you get back to dodging honking guys, break down Meet Dave for us. I hope I can help. Basically, we are two-inch-tall martians, and the orb that we need in order to survive on our planet has crash-landed on Earth. So we form an expedition to retrieve it and take it back to our planet. In order to blend in, we create a ship in the shape and form of our captain, Eddie Murphy. So there is the two-inch-tall Eddie, our captain, inside the ship, helping to run things, and then there is the ship Eddie, who has to navigate Earth and try to blend in.

Battle of the Titans

This month, two superheroes -- longtime stalwart Batman and newcomer Hancock -- square off at the box office.Who will prevail? The numbers tell the story. By John Ross

Hancock vs Batman

$2.2 billion
Lifetime gross of all films starring Will Smith, who is Hancock in Hancock, a movie about a superhero who drinks too much and cares too little about the collateral damage he causes when he “saves”people in Southern California.

-$40 million
Amount that Collateral Damage made at the domestic box office. The film did not star Will Smith, but it did star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, as governor of California, would have to clean up any collateral damage caused by Hancock -- if Hancock were real, that is. Still, we’ll count it, but against Hancock.

+$545 million
Lifetime gross of all films starring Charlize Theron, who plays Hancock’s possible love interest. (It’s complicated because she’s married to Jason Bateman’s character, a PR guy helping Hancock reform his image and fight crime.)

+$143 million
Domestic box-office take of Juno, Jason Bateman’s last film in wide release.
$2.85 billion
$609 million
Lifetime gross of all films starring Christian Bale, who plays Batman/Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins.

-$395 million
Lifetime gross of all films starring Katie Holmes, who played Bat love interest Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins. Holmes isn’t in The Dark Knight. Her part now belongs to Maggie Gyllenhaal. So that counts against the caped crusader.

-$40 million
Domesti cbox-office take of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s most recent film in wide release, Stranger than Fiction, which starred Will Ferrell in kind of a dramatic role. That does indeed sound stranger than fiction. We’re counting it as another strike against The Dark Knight.

+$1.2 billion
Lifetime gross of all films starring Michael Caine, who plays Alfred, the butler who helps Bruce Wayne form his image and helps Batman fight crime.

$1.37 billion
Winner: Hancock, by a leap and a bound.