March 09, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

In a way, the setting couldn’t be more appropriate. A decade ago in this very same Beverly Hills hotel, Julia Roberts slinked through the lobby in thigh-high leather boots as the star of Pretty Woman. Now, strolling past a dapper maitre d’ who no longer needs to instruct her which fork to use, Roberts enters the Regent Beverly Wilshire’s cleared-out dining room and pulls up next to Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini to talk about their new romantic caper The Mexican — among other things. But first, the actress kicks off the interview with a question of her own. Turning to the man better known as Tony Soprano, Roberts inquires, ”First, how do you pronounce your last name?”

Gan-dol-fini, why?”

”Because I’ve heard it overpronounced in a way I find funny: Gan-doll-fini. They’re punching the doll.”

Entertainment Weekly Who was first to sign on to the movie, because this morning when I was preparing…

Julia Roberts You actually invested a morning?

Brad Pitt [To Roberts] Officially, you were on board first.

Roberts That’s what I found out today. But I think it was just a chicken race. Brad was intrigued by it first. Then I heard he was intrigued, so I became intrigued.

Pitt We called her up to see if she’d be intrigued. And she was intrigued by the call. And from there we all called Gan-doll-fini.

James Gandolfini [Nods toward Roberts] I saw her at an awards show doing this thing over here [smiles and primly waves his hand like the Queen of England]. At that point in my life, I hadn’t even thought that she would bother waving at me. So I was sitting there, freaking out completely.

Roberts He ignored me! I did the fan wave across the room and he ignored me.

Gandolfini I looked over my shoulder like, ”What is she doing?” And my wife was like, ”She’s waving at you, you moron!”

Roberts My face turned red and I turned to Benjamin [Bratt, her boyfriend] and said, ”James Gandolfini just ignored me.”

EW Brad and Julia, considering that you’re almost smooching on the movie poster, I was surprised you weren’t together more in the movie. It’s a little Sleepless in Seattle, no?

Roberts Well, it’s not quite that extreme. We’re so together that we don’t even need to be in the same room.

Pitt In spirit we’re together. That’s marketing, that’s not our department.

EW And James, your character — the tough guy who’s a softie on the inside — kind of goofs on the whole Tony Soprano image.

Gandolfini It’s based on complete laziness, though.

EW How so?

Gandolfini [Laughs] Because I didn’t have a lot of time, you know? Because I’m trying to figure out how to do this thing and I went through all this s—, but I didn’t want to change any rhythms and then have to go back to Tony Soprano. So the character was just based on laziness really.

EW Out of the three of you, who’s most likely to …

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