By Alice M. Lee
Updated March 14, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Paul Schneider AGE 26 WHERE YOU’VE SEEN HIM Costarring with Zooey Deschanel as a small-town skirt chaser in David Gordon Green’s Sundance award-winning All the Real Girls. HAPPENSTANCE After a series of odd jobs (e.g., haunted-house monster), Schneider made an impression in pal Green’s feature debut, 2000’s George Washington. ”I started acting on a goof,” says Schneider, ”to save [casting] headaches.” ART THERAPY Classmates at North Carolina School of the Arts, Schneider and Green started cowriting the bittersweet Girls in 1997, ”while our own [romantic] wounds were still fresh.” REAL LOVE Shot in Asheville (the actor’s hometown) and Marshall, N.C., Girls has a realistic take on romance. ”We’re not flying into space and fighting asteroids. Young love is all about being awkward.” NEXT Wading through a flood of scripts. Dream directors? ”Lars von Trier, Alexander Payne, David O. Russell. They make movies with a mind behind them — not committee or test audience.”