Hope Davis plays house with Campbell Scott, Paul Giamatti, and her own leading man.


It’s the dead of winter in New York City, and both Hope Davis and her 16-month-old baby, Georgia, have nasty coldsa scenario Davis calls ”eerily reminiscent” of The Secret Lives of Dentists, the marriage-in-crisis indie in which she, her on-screen hubby (Campbell Scott), and their three kids catch a bug at the same time. ”Luckily,” she says, with a hint of optimism, ”my husband’s not sick.”

The man in question is actor Jon Patrick Walker, who, coincidentally, appears in Dentists as the hygienist Scott’s character imagines engaging in a menage a trois with his wife. ”He was the last one to come in the room [for that scene], and I was so happy to see him,” Davis laughs. ”It’s still weird to fool around with your husband in front of a cameraman, but it definitely made it easier.”

Dentists, adapted from Jane Smiley’s novella The Age of Grief, is one of two wildly different Davis films now on disc — the other being the much-adored, offbeat biopic American Splendor (R, 101 mins., 2003, HBO). The actress plays cantankerous comic-book author Harvey Pekar’s wife and collaborator, Joyce Brabner. ”I was nervous playing a real person who’s alive and well, standing on the set,” she admits. ”You feel like a big phony.” (Brabner and Pekar appear in the movie, offering a fascinating contrast to Davis’ and Paul Giamatti’s versions. Watching them on the red carpet at film fests and premieres in the docu short ”Road to Splendor” is hilarious.) Brabner has since weighed in, and the verdict is positive.

So is response across the board: Davis just nabbed a Best Actress prize for both films from the New York Film Critics Circle. ”I’m honored, but it’s like it’s happening to someone else,” she says. ”I’m running around the apartment with diapers, chasing the dog.” Not to mention fending off the flu.