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A TC Candler Column


January 25th, 2006

Jessica Biel was kind enough to sit down for an in-depth interview about her adventures while filming her recent films, her tough-girl image, the highs and lows of Hollywood life, and the impossible search for body doubles.

This charming young actress is sky-rocketing to the top of the A-list with a rare talent, stunning beauty and that unquantifiable star-quality that only comes along once in a blue moon.

Jessica Biel was recently named the "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire Magazine.  It is not hard to see why.

She has recently released "Blade: Trinity", "Stealth" and has just wrapped a shoot as the title character in a new film called "London".

Question: From "Blade: Trinity" to "Stealth" in back-to-back shoots... That must have been grueling?

Jessica Biel: -- I went home for one day, unpacked, repacked and went to Australia. So I didn’t even stop my training. I had one day off that I didn’t go to the gym – showed up in Australia, met the trainer and got back in the gym. So I was in like great shape when I arrived, which I’m so thankful about. No, I’m so small now, it’s very disappointing.

Question: Is that hard to keep up?

JB: Yeah, it’s the diet. The diet is like everything. I mean not everything, but it’s incredibly helpful. It just kind of leans you down and slims you up and takes that little layer of fat, skin, water-weight right off your body. It is hard to keep up that intensely, because I mean your life is taken over. You life is taken over. You go to a restaurant and you’re like “Oooohhh… I can’t have anything,” you know what I mean?

Q: How long were you on those shoots?

JB: Well for me it was about eleven months, all in all, since "Blade" and "Stealth" were back to back. So it was a long time.

Q: You’re always playing such a tough woman. Is that because you think you’re not tough yourself?

JB: (chuckles) No, I think it’s actually because I… I kind of feel tough. (chuckles) I don’t know. I like to kick butts. That’s right. What did you say?

Q: You’re not the “I have to go pee-pee girl?”

JB: No. I’m definitely not the I have to go pee-pee girl. I’ve been trying to not be that girl for my entire life, I think.

Q: You are tough in all areas of your life?

JB: Well I think… not in like love. I don’t feel tough in that area of my life, but … I feel like, you know, in my career you have to be pretty… you know, professionally I feel tough and I feel… I don’t know. I feel like I’ve, you know, been playing sports my whole life and had to be tough like, you know, tough when you’re on a team and you’re competitive and it’s just been part of who I am. So I don’t… I don’t feel necessarily extremely girly, or extremely feminine. But I don’t know.

Q: Are some guys intimidated by that tough persona?

JB: Yeah. (chuckles)

Q: They run away.

JB: Yeah, that’s true. When I was working on "Stealth" and "Blade" and I was, you know, probably my largest, like my biggest muscle mass and everything, and men were so funny, how they reacted to it. They would be like “So you work out?” I’m like “Yeah.” (chuckles) They’re like “You look good.” Like they were really competitive with me. Really threatened. Like “So what do you do for your delts? You do that? I do like fifteen/twenty. You do like thirty?” Yeah, it was just so weird. I’m like “What is this? This is so strange.” They really felt this weird competitive kind of thing with me, or they were just like totally grossed out by it. I had actually a guy friend who was working on "Stealth" come up to me and said “You know what? You look really good but it’s just not my thing. I don’t find it sexy.” And I was like “Guy, I appreciate the honesty. It doesn’t really bother me.”

Q: You’re not my thing either. (chuckles)

JB: Yeah. And I don’t like you either. (chuckles)

Q: Do you prefer that actually, that people are like that, they totally tell you their mind?

JB: Yeah, I think I’ve grown up with such rejection in my life, professionally I mean. You know, you’re too small, you’re too tall, you’re not good enough, you’re not blond, you’re not this, you’re not this, no, no, no, no, no. At a point you’re just like (snores) whatever. Fine, I don’t care. I don’t care if you don’t like me, because you’re missing out. I know it, and you’ll find that out later. So I would much prefer somebody to just be completely honest.

Q: Are you the same way with people? Do you tell them what you think?

JB: Usually. I’m pretty honest.

Q: When was the last time you gave somebody a critique?

JB: The last time I gave somebody a critique?

Q: Yeah, when you were brutally truthful.

JB: (chuckles) Maybe I have like selective memory. I don’t remember when I told somebody the truth (like that). I don’t remember what I said.

Q: Do you always tell the truth even if it hurts someone?

JB: Well not always. I mean I try to be as honest as possible. But yeah, even if it hurts sometimes, you know, the truth is the best, especially in relationships with your family or friends.

Q: How do you deal with the "Hollywood life"?

JB: I enjoy the lifestyle, I think. I mean you can’t beat the weather and you can’t, you know, beat … you know, just sometimes the parties or the food or the ocean and then the mountains. I mean there’s a lot of really nice things about Los Angeles, about California. But, you know, I think I’ve become more aware and more skeptical of when people say things to me. I’m talking mainly business, professional-wise, like “Oh, you’re on a very short list, and they want you!” Um… I don’t know if I want to believe that. You know, I’m just more aware and I don’t take things… I’ve heard it and it hasn’t come true before, and so I’m … I just don’t take things for exactly what they are.

Q: It's not an honest town?

JB: No, it’s really not. I mean people that you work with are a lot of times there to … to make you happy, to sell you on things, and to… It’s not that honesty isn’t there, but I think a lot of the times people pad. Everything’s padded, you know. “You’re on the short list,” instead of “Look, they just don’t like you.” You know, it’s like a nice way of saying “They’re not interested.” And I’m not saying that that happens all the time, but, you know, I’ve heard that stuff before and I would just rather have somebody say “They’re not interested. We’ve done everything that we could, but no.”

Q: What is "London"?

JB: London is … is the name of the character, as opposed to the place, right? It’s a really interesting film. It’s basically about this relationship between two people, about London and this character named Sid. And they are each other’s first loves, so it’s … everybody remembers that like passionate feeling, that like angst-ridden relationship with somebody, at least I remember that. Except this relationship is just… it’s kind of volatile and it’s kind of violent. You know, it’s like so passionate and yet so wrong for these two people. They just don’t fit together. But they’re like forcing this relationship to work. And that’s like what the story is about: these two people who have at this point split up, and the character Sid and Jason Statham’s character meet and then they go to a party and they spend all this time in a bathroom – they spend like two hours in this bathroom – discussing love and life and God, death, in a bathroom. They’re doing drugs in this bathroom for like hours.

Q: Sid is played by Chris Evans?

JB: Yeah. Sid is Chris Evans. So they’re just talking about everything and they flash back to the relationship between London and Sid, during its good times, during its bad times. It’s kind of this, you know, kind of a backwards/forwards reality mixture of a film. And it’s really – it’s kind of a really gritty, raw look at a relationship. It’s really different. It’s really kind of dark and it’s really kind of funny and weird and… It was great fun. It was great fun because it was so different.

Q: Do you like doing the smaller films?

JB: You know, I think it’s changing, my career, because people are kind of surprised to hear that “Oh, you’re doing "Elizabethtown". Wow, you’re working with Cameron Crowe, and that’s pretty, you know, exciting and pretty big and pretty different."” And I think people are starting to kind of see me a little bit differently, you know, not just see me as ... you know, a really tough girl action star who just has to scream and run around and I kind of get away with it. You know what I mean? Like they’re thinking, I think, wow, I must be good to be able to, you know, work with Cameron Crowe, or I’m, you know, working with Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti, there must be something there. So I think people are, you know, kind of a little intrigued and I’m glad – I’m glad that that’s happening, because that’s the kind of career I want to have is, you know, just kind of all over the place, and…

Q: Versatile?

JB: I mean it’s not like I see it. Someone said to me the other day, they said “Oh, I talked to you last year and you’re so much more mature now.” I’m like “I am? Oh, thanks.” I’m sure I’m maturing. I definitely feel… I feel like I know myself better, you know, as the years go on. I mean don’t you feel that way? I don’t know.

Q: I know myself less.

JB: No, come on. (chuckles) I don’t know.

Q: I do understand. Now, especially for "Stealth", there was a sexy scene. Are you comfortable with those types of scenes or do you not want to show that to an audience?

JB: I don’t necessarily … you know, not like showing or, you know, not like a bikini scene, or, you know, whatever. I just… I’m comfortable with my body. I just don’t … I just don’t want to be doing scenes or doing stuff that’s like, you know, gratuitous or, or…. I just don’t want to be looked at as, you know, oh, I’m just a body, and, you know, the more kind of stuff you do like that, the more it kind of is prevalent and more people ask about it, and, you know, the more … more bikini movies you do or whatever. People are like “So… a bikini movie.” And you’re like “Yeah, oh I know.” You know what I mean? So it’s just I’m just … I don’t… I want to be, I want to be respected for being good, and not just because oh, I look good in a bikini. But, you know, it’s kind of hard, because there’s so much stuff out there that requires like … you know, for women especially it’s, you know, well when are you gonna get your gear off, and…? When are you going to get in the bikini and… It’s just like oh, man.

Have you ever auditioned body doubles?

JB: I have worked with a body double. I used it in London actually.

Q: So how was it? I mean…

JB: The script was incredibly, highly sexual, and very openly sexual, which is … which is part of why I think I was attracted to it. But when it came down to it I just really didn’t want to … yeah, I just didn’t feel comfortable like exposing my body at this point in my life, on film.

But you are in your prime.  If not now, then when?

JB: I know, you know, it’s so funny, because people have said that to me before. I’ve said, you know… actresses, older actresses have said “Girl, I wish I would have done it more,” you know, and so I think my God, am I going to feel that way? I don’t know, but…

Q: Well what were the scenes? How were they shot?  Do you know what I mean?

JB: I do know what you mean, but in this particular instance it was close-ups of body parts that the director wanted. It was supposed to be a close-up of a breast and a close-up of a bottom, and, you know, maybe like from like here down wearing… you know, from the back so it was like this whole breast….

Q: Lots of cuts and angles?

JB: Yeah, more kind of creative… like avante guard, which it could have been… I mean you wouldn’t have seen my face, so… It could have been me.

Q: It must be hard to find a realistic match for your body.

JB: Yeah, that was really hard to find But it was…

Q: Did you have approval?

JB: I did have approval. I did. It was just so strange. It was so bizarre.

Q: Did you know what types of parts you were looking for or the ones that you really wanted?

JB: Yeah. (laughs) Yeah, I thought hmm. D’s might be interesting. It was such a weird process. It was so weird. I wanted something that looked real. I wanted something that looked like me, but it’s amazing how many different styles of breasts there are. You just don’t realize. I mean I guess being a woman – I’m sure you guys are like “Yeah, boobs, I’ve seen ‘em. Like look at all the different shapes.” We don’t know. I mean these women kept coming – I’m like another new set? I mean they looked different. They all looked so different, and it was a really bizarre experience ‘cause I’m just kind of sitting back there like objectifying these women. I felt very… I felt almost bad that I was like just looking at them…

Q: But they wanted… They choose to have a whole range of different types…

JB: Oh yeah.

Q: How did the process play out?

JB: Just checking women out for like hours. “Hi, how are you? Yes, get naked. Thank you. Oh, not bad.” I mean it was really strange. You know, it’s… The casting directors who cast for body doubles – they get pictures like, you know, whatever picture you have in, you know, in the least amount of clothing. Like say for "Summer Catch" or for this they would get my picture and say “Okay, let’s try to find girls that, you know, kind of resemble this type of body,” so they sent all these really tall, like lanky like model girls in, and I was like “You know, guys? Send in some athletes.” So they went and got all these dancers and like these gymnasts who looked so much more like me, you know, much shorter and, you know, just more kind of muscular and more shapely than … And these women are walking in, I’m like “This is like a runway model. I don’t look like a runway model. This is not right.” So it took a few times to get it right, and to start seeing women who I thought, you know, more resembled my body, but, you know, bodies are so different, and no matter how many people I saw they just did not look like me. So the one girl that we finally ended up picking, you know, she had real looking breasts and they didn’t really look like mine, but it was close enough, and she had a nice looking bottom and … You know, it’s weird. I still look at the screen now and I’m just like “That looks nothing like me, but hey, nobody knows. So whatever.”

Q: What are doing now?  What are you choosing to do next?  How do you make those choices?

JB: I’ve been pretty concentrated just on working. Sort of by choice, but sort of by this is the right thing to do and I’ve gotta, you know, kind of hit while the iron’s hot and take advantage of this opportunity. But I think actually now I’m going to have more of a life. I’m not working on anything right now. I don’t have something coming up.

Q: What are you going to do?

JB: I’m going to go home to my new house and try to kind of furnish it and put some wallpaper up and hang out with my friends and barbecue in my backyard and…

Q: Someone to go home to?

JB: I have one dog. I really want to get another puppy, but I don’t know how I'm going to do that. I don’t know when I’m going to travel again.

Q: How are you furnishing it?

JB: I think I want to buy… I don’t know. I don’t know … My house is kind of…

Q: Do you know what you want it to be?

JB: Yeah, like I like dark. I like dark wood. I like antique stuff, but it’s so expensive and I’d have trouble trying to find something I can justify.

Q: Where is it?

JB: This is good. Ventura, okay.

Q: After you train your puppy.

JB: After… yeah.

Q: Don’t buy any rugs.

JB: No, I’m not buying any rugs. That’s for sure.

Q: What kind of dog do you have?

JB: I have a Bull Dog.

Q: Thank you Jessica... It's been a pleasure.

JB: No Problem.  Thank you.


- Aww... Puppy Love -
Photo Courtesy of Coming Soon - Contact Courtesy of DNA-PR

"Stealth" is currently available on DVD.
"Elizabethtown" will be available on DVD soon.
"London" will be available soon.

Thanks to Alex at DNA-PR for Permission for this Interview.
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