On the Melbourne, Australia set of the new scare-flick "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," instituting green practices was a bit of an uphill battle, admits producer Mark Johnson. "We were at a studio that did not have recycling. But we were very specific about the kinds of cars that could be driven," he notes. Off set however, star Katie Holmes and screenwriter-producer Guillermo del Toro are quite eco-conscious. "We're very green. We recycle — that used to be my job as a kid, I'd do it with my mom. My daughter has a garden," she says, referring to Suri, her five-year-old with Tom Cruise. "She got a little garden kit for her birthday. She loves it, the joy of seeing something grow." Del Toro refers to his daughter, 10, as "the green police. It's like having PETA and Greenpeace all in one. She grows her own garden, talks about compost. She gets it from school and TV. Her favorite shows are on Animal Planet and National Geographic."

Del Toro's screenplay for "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," opening Aug. 26, changed the "exasperatingly passive" adult character Kim Darby played in the 1973 TV movie version to a child (Bailee Madison), who discovers monsters live in the house she's moved into with her father and his new girlfriend. "The best way to make a character trapped is a kid because a kid stays with his parents no matter what's going on," he explains.

Holmes responded to her character's strength, the mother-child dynamic and the chance to do a horror film and work with Del Toro. "What I love about classic horror films is that they take you on a ride. They make you scared because you're so invested in the characters," she says. "Kim goes on a journey from not wanting to be a mom to becoming that lioness, and it's something I didn't understand until I had my own. Being a mother changes your perspective on everything. There's no bus that you won't jump in front of."

Next, Holmes appears with Al Pacino in two movies, the November comedy "Jack & Jill," starring Adam Sandler as the warring siblings ("I'm sort of the peacekeeper," she says) and "The Son of No One," a drama in which she plays Channing Tatum's wife. "He's a cop, we live in Jersey, and I'm the mother of a little girl with epilepsy. Her husband's never home. It's a stressed out situation." On her upcoming slate is the romantic comedy "Responsible Adults," about a boy and his babysitter who meet again as adults, when "he still has the crush and she's still trying to figure out life." Del Toro's next directing gig will be the 2013 project "Pacific Rim," an effects-laden aliens vs. robots extravaganza. "It's the biggest movie I've done by far," he says.

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