June 05, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Hey, Adam Sandler: You thought unhinged, show-tune-loving shrink Jack Nicholson was a pain in ”Anger Management”? Wait til you see what Tom Cruise has in store for you. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sandler is in talks with director Michael Mann (”Heat”) to costar with Cruise, who would play his first real villain role, in Mann’s ”Collateral.” Sandler would play it straight as a cab driver whom Cruise’s hitman forces at gunpoint to drive around all night, hunting Cruise’s contract victim.

Besides being Hollywood A-listers, Cruise and Sandler have something else in common: Paul Thomas Anderson, who got them both to play against type — and at bargain wages. Cruise played an angry sex guru in Anderson’s ”Magnolia,” while Sandler had a rare dramatic role as a dweeb transformed by romance in ”Punch-Drunk Love.” Maybe the two actors have just decided to cut out the middleman.

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