Jessica Biel has come a long way from her days in the family TV drama 7th Heaven. She’s gone from preacher’s daughter to action chic in roles like Blade: Trinity and The A-Team.
Now the 30 year-old continues to carve out her impressive action skills with a role in Total Recall. The film, which she co-stars with Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale is a remake of the popular 1990 film of the same name which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Biel was asked if she had seen the original film.
“Yes,” Jessica replies, “I was sort of just looking at that as a classic piece of film at a time when those special effects were amazing and it was a different time socially, politically, economically, whatever.”
“And I felt like it was hard to make comments to judge that, to compare it to now and what they should have done,” she adds, “I don’t really look at film like that, sort of like to just look at it for what it was and appreciate it being quite forward-thinking for 1990.”
Like the original film, Total Recall tells the story of a working-class individual named Douglas Quaid, played by Farrell, who learns he is really a spy named Hauser and is on the run from the authorities and plays with the nature of real life versus a fantasy life. It was asked of Jessica whether the film’s director Len Wiseman had the actors play the situations more than one way.
“Well, I think what Len and I talked about was this woman,” Biel says, “She genuinely believes in what she’s doing and that she trusts this person that she doesn’t quite know anymore and we just had to believe.”
“So this woman was completely real, she is an authentic person, and even if she was a figment of someone’s imagination or if she was a fantasy, I would have prepared for and played her the same way,” she adds, “It wouldn’t have changed anything,
Like any future-set story, there are glimpses of potential technology that are played with. One standout is having phones implanted into your hands. Biel, however, does not find that so appealing.
“I’m kind of freaked out about implants in general,” Jessica says, “I’m not really a techie person either. I probably will still have a Blackberry when people have phones implanted into their hands, but I am into hover cars. I’ve been waiting for that Hover Board forever. Where’s that? I mean, come on, what’s going on here?”
In the film, Jessica plays the role originated by Melina Nicotin as Melina, a member of the Resistance movement who is an ally of Doug’s. At one point, Melina battles Doug’s wife who turns out to be a double agent, played by Kate Beckinsale. The actress talks about the feeling of doing a fight scene between two women.
“It is good, isn’t it?” Biel enthuses, “I think so. Especially for being the girl who gets to do it. You don’t want to always be objective and sexualized like that. Sometimes that’s OK, but when you’re doing some thing like this, you want to feel like an equal and you want to be choreographed like anybody, whether it’s Colin or Kate.”
“The gender neutrality in this particular fight is, I think, what was really exciting for us,” she adds, “Because it wasn’t about anything but two incredibly capable warrior women just beating the shit out of each other and that’s it, because men get to do it all the time. And so, it’s pretty fun for us to do that.”
Biel was asked who kicks butt better.
“I mean, this is the question that everyone keeps asking us and I don’t know,” Jessica replies, “I think probably she does, because she’s got more experience in this kind of really kicking ass kind of world. She’s
Jessica was then asked who would win in a fight, Beckinsale’s Underworld vampire character Selene or the actress’s own Abigail Whistler, the vampire hunter in Blade: Trilogy.
“Me! Abigail would win, I think,” she says, “She’s got a cool bow and arrow. I don’t know much about her. I don’t know intricate details about her vampire character. She looks cooler. Maybe she would win. Again, I don’t know.”
“These questions, like who knows, but that one’s a good one, that’s better than everyday life, because I think it probably would be a really silly girl fight between the two of us, if it was for real,” Biel adds, “Something massive would have to happen for her and I to be fighting each other. It just wouldn’t happen.”
Biel talks about the toughest scene she did in Total Recall.
“The zero gravity stuff where Colin and I are floating through the China fall, that big thing that takes us from one side of the world to the other side,” she says, “It was really an interesting way that we shot this. To shoot that, they turned the cameras upside down, they hung us on wires in a harness upside down.”
“It was like the craziest thing,” Jessica continues, “You don’t believe it, but that’s exactly how we shot it, upside down, pretending to be right side up, so uncomfortable, neck straining, harness digging into your ribs, giving you a wedgie, making you miserable, looking like you have to go to the bathroom. It was bizarre and really physically the weirdest thing we had to do by far.”
Jessica was then asked what it was like to work with Colin Farrell.
“Great,” Biel says, “He’s a joy to work with. He’s just focused and collaborative and very selfless when it comes to work and being really generous of spirit as an actor.”
Biel talks about how she prepared herself physically for
“It was pretty clean diet,” Jessica reveals, “I had to cut out most of the good wine and cheese and pasta and all the good stuff, all the yummy stuff, you got to do it. I had a pretty good mix of martial arts, boxing training, parkour, and my own personal weight training just for upkeep, and lots of yoga to keep length in the body.”
Jessica was asked whether or not she believes having done action roles in the past makes her believe she can actually do it or just learn more than she can know.
“I think both, yes,” Biel says, “I think you sort of have an unrealistic view of your abilities. I think, for sure, I do, but you then also have learned some things. I could have some moves that I wouldn’t have had, had I not done a couple of films like these, but I definitely have an unrealistic, warped view of facing off with a big guy, like, oh, I can take that guy, for sure. It would not go down that way, for sure.”
Biel was asked whether doing action roles would make her more defensive when encountering a potentially dubious person on the street.
“Not really,” Jessica says, “The problem with me is that I’m a super-trusting person. A mugger could tap me on the shoulder and I could be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, hi! What do you need? Oh, you need a bus fare? Here.’ I’m more of that person and less of, ‘Who’s that?’ I don’t have that, I think, in my DNA is probably an issue for me. I don’t know.”
Jessica was asked if the original film’s star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had seen the new Total Recall.
“I don’t know,” Biel replies, “I don’t think we screened it for him. I’m sure we’d be happy to. We hope he likes it.”
Biel has a simple idea when asked about what she plans to do next.
“I just want to be
Jessica was then asked if there was anything she was particularly excited about.
“Yes,” Biel says, “Actually, there’s a couple of things. I’m excited about The Tall Man. That’s coming out close to Halloween. A psychological thriller, really intense, intense character study for me, so really a creative experience. Also, Hitchcock, which hopefully, should be coming out by the end of the year. That was a real pleasure to be a part of that.”
“And this really tiny movie that I did called Emanuel And The Truth About Fishes,” she adds, “Which is about a woman who is dealing with such immense grief that she is sort of a hallucinogenic and dealing with some serious pathos about a subject in her life. Another really small, dark interesting character of a woman with real mental issues that I’m really excited about. Haven’t seen it, don’t know what it’s going to be like, but had a really interesting time filming it.”