Let’s get this out of the way: Jessica Biel is completely and amazingly hot in person. Just gorgeous. Poke your eyes out sexy.
It turns out she’s also really nice and funny. And a little bit weird. That’s rare with the pretty girls I have interviewed – they tend to be a little vapid, or fakely sweet. You get the impression that this is what Jessica Biel would be like if she would ever deign to hang out with a slug like you.
Her new film is Blade Trinity, where she plays the vampbashing daughter of Whistler. She carries around a big ass compound bow and a blade made out of UV light. Not a bad armory, and she has some pretty OK moves for a girl who was on 7th Heaven.
Q: Did you know any karate prior to this film?
Biel: No, I didn’t. I knew nothing. It was great, so much fun. I had a good time learning and training and working with our coaches. It was a dream come true to be paid to work out and to learn martial arts. I just loved it.
Q: What drew you to this character?
Biel: The fact that she’s equal in intelligence and physical capabilities to her male counterparts. She’s a strong, smart woman. Finally I recognized in her a female heroine that was void of the stereotypical female traits. She just wants to kill these vampires and that what she does. There’s no relationship and no romance; that’s her prerogative and that’s what she does. That’s why I liked that character.
Q: If we looked into Jessica Biel’s iPod, what kind of music would we find?
Biel: You would find a little bit of everything. You would find Bob Marley, Christina Aguilera, Damian Rice, Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, 50Cent, Led Zeppelin – it’s all over the place now that I say it out loud.
Q: Speaking of iPods, your character Abigail listens to hers while fighting. How does she hear what’s going on around her?
Biel: I got that question before. Basically I never asked that question. David never explained it to me either, but it’s Blade world, it’s comic book world. We can get away with these kinds of things where she just senses that somebody is behind her. I don’t know!
Q: There’s some bloody stuff in the film. Are you squeamish about that?
Biel: I’m not squeamish at all. I was one of those kids that as a child I dragged a dead squirrel home on my skateboard and cut it open and tried to look at its brain. I’m not kidding! I asked my mother and she gave me some kind of tool and I sat there for a long time sawing through the body.
Q: How old were you?
Biel: I was probably 10. I was intrigued by surgery, I wanted to be a surgeon for a long time. I love doctor shows and surgery shows. Blood is not an issue for me. I even took pictures once of me getting my blood taken. I sort of had this camera –
Also in Texas [Chainsaw Massacre] I was covered in so much fake blood I can never have a problem with it either.
Q: Well then, since this is a vampire film, you’d be OK with drinking blood?
Biel: Is it my blood?
Biel: I think I could drink my own blood. Is that weird? Could you drink your own blood?
Q: Is this going to be the dare segment of the interview?
Biel: OK! I Double Dog Dare you… I mean, I think I would drink my own blood no problem. Somebody else’s blood is another story.
Q: What was it like working with Wesley Snipes?
Biel: That was an interesting experience because he was Blade all the time and Blade is not somebody that you get to know or talk with. I don’t know Wesley, I didn’t really have a chance to get to know him. He didn’t really give us a chance to get to know him. He’s really focused and in his own process. I never worked that way before, but I respect it. You just give him his space and let him do his thing. He’s obviously done it in the past and knows how to do it right. If that’s what he needs to go through, then go for it.
Q: Do you find that type of method acting unnerving at all?
Biel: It’s weird. It’s weird to see him in the morning and not quite know if I should say hello to him. I get a little response – does he hate me? Is he pissed at me? There are a lot of questions that go through your head at first, so I think it was a little unnerving for me. I think for everybody who hadn’t worked with him before it took a while to get used to that type of process. But then you get used to it and you go about your day, go about your work habits your own way. He didn’t impose on me and I didn’t impose on him either. So he didn’t necessarily make my experience negative to any extent.
Q: I heard that you destroyed a camera with your bow and arrow.
Biel: I did, and it’s not my fault! They told me to shoot into the lens. What happened was when I’m up on the roof, hanging down, shooting at Drake, who is holding Blade – what happens with a bow and arrow, which I didn’t know because I knew nothing about them, is that you can increase the poundage by tightening the string. The more you tighten the string, the harder it is to pull back and the farther and the more powerful the arrow flies. My poundage was dropped down really low so I wouldn’t by accident kill anybody. When that happens, when you turn it down, if I’m shooting at a really far distance, the arrow drops. I was supposed to shoot my arrow – I’m 30 feet away from camera on a rig, hanging. The arrow gets close to the camera and turns off or starts to dive. We’re having an issue with it but they don’t want to turn the poundage up because it gets dangerous. So everyone says, “Just shoot at the lens.” So I aimed, and I shot.
There’s a 2 inch by 2 inch piece of lens that I shot. Everything else is covered by safety glass. I shot out this 2 inch by 2 inch lens! I hope you can see it on the DVD. David loves that story.
Q: Was that a lucky shot or are you good now?
Biel: I’m good! I can aim! I have a sight on my bow so that when I’m aiming I can line up different lines – it’s much easier than shooting a long bow. If you know what you’re doing you can be very precise. And I had been doing target practice for the last six months. They said shoot the lens, they deserve what they got!
Q: Did you and Orlando Bloom trade archery stories on the set of Elizabethtown?
Biel: Oh my God, you know we didn’t. It’s so funny, it didn’t occur to me to even ask him about that. I heard though that a lot of his arrows were CG because he shot so quickly and our bows are totally different. He didn’t ask me about it either.
Q: He was ashamed to ask you about it, because you were shooting real arrows.
Biel: Yeah, exactly. And I’m a girl!
Q: What was Elizabethtown like? How was it working with Cameron Crowe?
Biel: Working with Cameron is so great. He is a creative genius. It was such a beautiful set to be on. He takes every character, whether it’s one line or five hundred lines, and gives you so much of his attention, works you through it in every different emotion, feeling, everything you can think of to do: Compassionate, angry, turned on, upset. You try it so many different ways. He wants to know what you want to do, what your ideas are. He’s so passionate about his work and his actors and his film. It was so amazing. I’ve never worked that way before in my life.
He turns on music in the middle of the scene. He surprises you all the time. He’s whispering things to Orlando, saying “Say this instead of the normal line,” to catch me off guard. One time he even said “Kiss Orlando and surprise him here.” So in the middle of the scene, I just kissed him, and it’s such a natural reaction when someone kisses you and you don’t expect it, especially someone you met yesterday. He works that way, trying to get an organic, real reaction from you. I had such fun.
Q: Texas and Blade are very physical films. Do you want to make more action movies?
Biel: I want to have a balanced career. I want to be able to do everything – to do Elizabethtown and Blade.
Q: You have Stealth coming up, which is an action film.
Biel: Yes, Stealth is an action film. We shot almost entirely on a green screen for all of our actual flying scenes. It was very different, it was much more explosions and dogfighting in the air. But it was action.
Q: Growing up did you have a dream role? A superhero?
Biel: Not a superhero but I always dreamed of playing a female Indiana Jones.
Q: That’s what Ryan Reynolds said.
Biel: That’s what he said? That’s my dream!
Q: Well, not a female Indiana Jones.
Biel: I always wanted to play Indiana Jones. He probably did it first because he’s older.
Q: What was it like working with him?
Biel: He’s such a goofball. He’s such a smartass. He’s fun because he’s smart and funny and cool. He was great to work with.
Q: Are you looking forward to doing a Nightstalkers spinoff?
Biel: Yeah. We all had such a good time we’re like, let’s just do it. It’s another party. With getting in great shape and hanging out together and making a fun movie. I would love to be Abigail again.
Q: What would you want to see explored in Abigail in a future film?
Biel: I think her own sense of humor didn’t get really touched on. She’s a straight, stoic character with an intense focus. But she’s still a woman, and she’s still vulnerable and feminine and interesting and funny as well. Dave and I even talked about that, if we were to spin it off she would maybe be a little bit funnier and a little bit self-deprecating, have a little more fun with it and not take herself so seriously.
Q: It used to be that women in horror films were relegated to the scream queen role. But now with films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this, and the work of Sarah Michelle Gellar, women get to play tougher roles. Do you find that women’s roles are stronger now?
Biel: Definitely. It’s changing, and not just in the horror genre; women are having the opportunity to play much stronger and more intelligent characters. That was a concern of mine from the beginning with Texas – will I be stuck in this? Is this the smart thing to do? It’s much easier to cross lines now. You can be a musician and an actress. You can be an actress and a singer. A TV star, like Jennifer Aniston, and a huge movie star. You can cross lines and you couldn’t do that before. Studios – you were assigned to one studio, old school. And if you did TV you did TV, and if you did movies, you did movies.
But now times are changing and there are a lot of roles for women, in horror films, in comedies, in everything. We’re not just the girlfriends anymore, we’re not just the wives, which we were for a while. It’s easier now to take on something as judged as a horror film and be confident that you won’t get stuck in it and people will see you in other lights as well.
Q: I have to ask a nerdy question: Your old channel-mate Buffy versus Abigail. Who wins?
Biel: [laughs] I don’t want to get in trouble with her, because she’d be a good match. But I have better weapons. Buffy has stakes and everything, but I could get her from a hundred feet away. It’s logical. No offense, Sarah!
Blade Trinity opens Wednesday.