INT: Jessica Biel
Playing Liz, an everyday school teacher who falls for Nicolas Cages psychic character, the lovely Jessica Biel seems a little more relaxed then usual, entering the room with a grace and elegance. She is playing a sort of damsel in distress type in NEXT, a very different Biel from the one recently seen kicking the tar out of vampires in BLADE: TRINITY and flying fast planes in STEALTH. With long curly brown hair and a very easygoing demeanor, the beautiful Biel sat down to talk about playing a less physical character this time around, working with the quirky Nic Cage and her desire to diversify as an actress.
Do you actually get to play the girl in this or are you still kicking ass?
No, Im playing more of the girl in this. I wouldnt necessarily like to call her a damsel in distress, but shes just kind of a normal person getting sucked up into this wild adventure. Not really having a clue whats going on and it really has nothing to do with her, except that this man (Nic Cages character) is looking for her and finds her and it kind of blows up in her face.
What attracted you to the role?
Well, I mean, I think number one was to work with Nic and Julianne, and with Lee. That was the number one thing. Anything that this group of people are doing you want to be involved in. And I definitely wanted to do something that wasnt necessarily kind of tough and kind of hard core, what Ive sort have been doing in the past. So yeah, being the girl, being you know, I guess you call the damsel, a little bit different for me and fun and good and challenging. So Im trying to keep it switched up and not doing the same thing over and over again.
For a film like BLADE: TRINITY, where you had to be very physical in the role, did you have to sort of forget all that stuff to play the character in NEXT?
Yeah. I didnt have work out; I didnt have to learn any special skills or anything like that. I just really had to be a normal person, whos a school teacher, this is what I know, I have a simple life and now Im running from the cops and the feds and this guys saying he can see into the future. I just have to really realistically play a woman who is just getting all this new information and getting thrown into this really kind of terrifying situation. So yeah, Im trying, I guess Im trying not to run really cool (laughs), and then I dont get to beat anybody up. But Ive been telling Lee, Im like please, please put in some sort of give me some more action! I got to roll out of a car once, yay! (laughs)
So would you say that being less of a physical character was harder?
Its tougher, because I naturally would rather be dodging logs and you know, elbowing people and punching people, I just think thats really fun, I find that really fun. It was cool to do that in BLADE: TRINITY and it was cool to be really physical and tough in STEALTH. So thats whats just a little bit harder, to be a little bit more feminine, a little bit softer, but its fun. Hes (Nic) got to work a lot more, hes got all the pressure on him, I just come in, I do my stuff and I get out of here (laughs), so its a little both ways.
Did you recently have a role in a period film?
Are you trying to diversify away from stereotype action roles?
Im trying to diversify from any sort of stereotype whatsoever, definitely dont want to be thought of as an action actor or just a period, or just a comedian, you know Id like to really do everything, I dont ever want to get stuck in a box, thats just not fun at all. But I did THE ILLUSIONIST, it just went to Sundance. Its directed by Neil Burger with Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti. Its a 1900s romance mystery, magic movie; its got a lot of interesting elements. Its coming out in August.
In NEXT, how long did your and Nics characters know each other before the trouble ensues?
Not very long. We meet and maybe two days later. I mean we have this kind of wild, whirlwind romance. I meet him at this diner and Im giving him a ride somewhere and the roads blocked, so we have to end up spending the night in this motel, I make him sleep in the car and all this stuff goes on. But hes really charming and Im starting to fall in love with him really quickly. But literally two days after we meet each other, I get stopped by Julianne and she says this guys crazy, be prepared we need you to do this and then he tells me everything and then we go on the run basically. So its fast, really fast.
What is it about Nics character that makes you fall for him so fast?
Hes definitely quirky. Hes got this kind of eccentric, wild personality, but hes really, really like a sweet tender person. Hes very open and I think definitely theres a sense of innocence there, but he just kind of puts out there, like I believe in destiny, Im your future, and shes just like what are you talking about? But hes just kind of like this is it man, this is who I am and hes charming and hes kind of odd and he doesnt really push anything on her and its just one of those natural things. And I think also, because hes pre-coged her, thats the woman for him anyway, so all they had to do was meet each other and their personalities are just going to gel. And thats what happens, they instantly have a nice connection, a nice discourse, theyre just talking and connecting from the second that they get in this car, after he gets beat up.
Does he go to the diner because he knows your character is going to be there?
Yes, he sees a time, its like 9:08, he doesnt know if thats in the evening or if its in the morning and he knows its a different place. So he goes there everyday, two times a day, waiting to see if Im going to show up and then I finally show up.
What was it like to work with Nic?
Its been amazing; its been so much fun really. He is very similar to the character because hes very kind of eccentric and cool. And hes always got these wild stories and hes a total goofball, which I didnt really expect, I really didnt expect him to be so fun and silly and he really is that way. And hes very serious about his work and hes very intense when were working, but hes improvising all the time and just making it fun. I mean we have this nice connection because were just playing around and were having a really, really good time.
Was it different working with an actor like Nic, who prides himself of creating a really original character?
Its just been so thorough. You know, hes so thorough in who he is as a character and what he wants to do with the character and how he would behave, and this and that. Which has kind of made me kick it up a notch and say well okay, let me go a little bit deeper and try to find another layer of this person. We would start a dialogue about does this really make sense, can we believe that these two people are really falling in love in two days? So it brought me up to another level, you know, I have to meet him up here, otherwise he was just going to take over and I was gonna be crap. (laughs) So I had to bump it up a little bit.
Can you talk a bit about working with Director Lee Tamahori?
Lee is really cool to work with because hes really laid back; he makes the atmosphere on set just comfortable, which is really important. And hes totally cool to change anything at any moment, doesnt feel right, lets change it. Hes not married to the script, hes not married to any choice at all, he wants to improvise and hes way more of an actors director then I ever thought. The scenes that were doing in our cabin, where hes telling me whats going on and were falling in love and everything, really important to Lee, he wants to make them truthful and realistic and he takes the time to get what we need.
Whats been your favorite scene to shoot so far?
I think the scene where he actually tells me that he has this ability. And hes showing me on the television that he knows whats coming, he knows what show is going to come on and hes flipping the channels. That was a challenging scene that was really cool cause it literally could have been a scene where we were just talking to each other, standing in the same place and it could have been this really static boring kind of a scene. Nick had this idea to move up here and go to the bed and pretend that we were - cause the feds were watching us at that time so hes kind of pretending to kiss me and were like talking in all these whispers like were being spies and Im going along with it. And we get down on the floor, because hes passing me this envelope, so we moved all over the room and really created a scene that was not on paper. Really he brought it to life.
Whats coming up next? Anything with BLADE, as there was talks at one point about a spin-off with you?
I dont think thats happening, I havent heard anything about that. Im just not sure whats going to happen next.
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