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Feud of the Week: Jessica Alba vs. Screenwriters

11.08.2010

On the top of "actors who get by on their looks" lists the world over sits Jessica Alba, a pretty face and a banging body, but an actress that isn't in danger of winning any Oscars any time soon.

But recently she made headlines with a quote from Elle Magazine on the subject of acting, and how to be good at it. Her advice? Ignore those pesky screenwriters.

"Good actors never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say."

Now, I'd start rebuking her here, but fortunately I have BIG FISH and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY screenwriter John August to do it for me. Here's his rebuttal to Alba posted on his blog:

"Oh, Jessica

I have to believe she was misquoted, or excerpted in some unflattering way, because Jessica Alba couldn’t have actually said (the quote).

Oh, Jessica. Where to start?

Scripts aren’t just the dialogue. Screenplays reflect the entire movie in written form, including those moments when you don’t speak. Do you know the real reason we hold table readings in pre-production? So the actors will read the entire script at least once.

Following your logic, you’ve never been in a movie with both good actors and amazing writing. That may be true, but it might hurt the feelings of David Wain, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.

You’re saying your co-stars who delivered their lines as written are not “good actors.” Awkward.

You’re setting dangerous expectations. So if an aspiring actor wishes to be “good,” she should say whatever she wants to say? That’s pretty terrible advice.

Screenwriters can be your best friends. We are pushovers for attractive people who pay attention to us. I wrote that bathtub scene in Big Fish because Jessica Lange made brief eye contact with me. So if you’re not getting great writing — and honestly, you’re not — ask to have lunch with the screenwriter. I’ve seen you on interviews. You’re charming. That charm could work wonders.

Again: I know that quotes often come out in ways we never intended. It’s lacking context — though the photos are lovely. (Hi, Carter Smith!) I’m calling this out just so we can all hopefully learn something."

So yes, it's clear this was a pretty dumbass quote from Alba, and hopefully somehow it was taken out of context. It's true good actors will improv here and there, but that's a far cry from "saying whatever they want," and it might explain a few of her own recent performances.

Extra Tidbit: Reminds me of Jessica Biel's "I don't get roles because I'm too hot" quote.
Source: ElleJohn August

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