I'm not very into pop culture," admits 25-year-old unknown Michael Stahl-David. "By the time my family bought a TV to watch me on The Black Donnellys and got it to work, the show was off the air. In fact,I still don't own one." A pretty-boy Chicago theater kid who's read way more Tennessee Williams than
Variety, Stahl-David's luck changed when he landed one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood: the lead in Lost producer/writer/director/cult hero J.J. Abrams's hotly anticipated monster-takes-Manhattan movie. But with just two months to go before the big premiere, Stahl-David still doesn't know what it's called.

Thanks to a pesky 12-page confidentiality agreement, details on the mystery film are wrapped tighter than J.Lo's baby bump. As the Blair Witch–esque rumor-mongering reaches a frenzy, "there's a feeling if I told someone, I'd step out of a restaurant and a man in a black suit would hit me with a chloroform napkin," laughs Stahl-David.

Still, for this media-challenged thespian, even a mutant-lizard flick has its human moments. "It's about friends," he says, "and how extreme situations bring out things in ourselves we didn't know were there." Yeah, yeah, self-discovery—but how about a plot hint? "Some people survive the night, some don't," he starts. "We're in the subway at Coney Island—see, I'm tempted to tell things I'm not supposed to!" Fair enough, although this much is certain: We know a star when we see one, and this guy has a monster future.

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