JESSICA ALBA on 'GOOD LUCK CHUCK' Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
September 13, 2007
In the comedy Good Luck Chuck, Jessica plays Cam, a cute and endearingly clumsy penguin specialist who catches the eye of Charlie (Dane Cook), a bachelor who has been unusually jinxed: whenever he sleeps with a woman, she immediately leaves him and finds her soulmate in someone else. Feeling that Cam might be Miss Right, Charlie is emotionally reluctant to take their relationship to the next level, fearing that he will trigger his supposed curse and wind up a stepping stone in her path to wedded bliss with another man.
Good Luck Chuck also features Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, Fanboys), and is the directorial debut of Mark Helfrich (editor of a slew of films, including Red Dragon, Honey, X-Men: The Last Stand, and the Rush Hour trilogy).
In this interview, Jessica talks about working on Good Luck Chuck and tackling comedy, being a klutz herself, and befriending penguins.
MEDIA: To date, your film career hasn't included many comedies. Was this your move to let Hollywood know you could be funny?
JESSICA: [laughs] I hosted the MTV Movie Awards two summers ago, I think, and I kind of used it as my audition. Because like you said, I haven't really done any comedies. And I couldn't get into those rooms because people just didn't think that that was my thing. They thought I was "action girl." So I hosted the movie awards knowing I was going to be able to do funny skits. And Dane was at the show, and that's when he made the call that he thought I could do comedy, and I could do Good Luck Chuck with him.
We're so accustomed to seeing you as graceful on the screen and in public appearances. How well did you really relate to Cam's clumsiness?
I'm quite clumsy in my own personal life--more than any person should be. [laughs] It's kind of a joke. So it was fun being able to not hide that. I'm usually having to be incredibly self-aware and self-possessed and self-conscious, certainly, even just walking in heels, and trying to pretend like I'm a superhero and be the most coordinated person on the planet in Dark Angel and all these things. In this, I just really got to be goofy and just have fun. And I didn't have to be so self-conscious. It was nice. So I related to it in a personal way.
It's been said that you chipped your tooth during filming. Is that true?
Yes, I did chip my front tooth doing a kiss with Dane. [laughs] I chipped my top front tooth and he chipped his bottom tooth. We were doing like a comedic Mr. and Mrs. Smith love scene, and we were slamming into walls and breaking things and tumbling over couches and stuff. And he slammed my head into a picture, and while my head was smacking into the wall breaking the picture, his teeth slammed into my teeth.
Did you have to get some emergency dental work done?
I did! I had to get a bond on my tooth. But when I take it off, I look like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. [laughs] I looked really silly.
How was it working with the penguins?
It was great. They're lovely little animals. [coyly] And they don't like everybody, but they liked me right away. I found a way to tickle them on their neck, which is how their handlers do it. And usually they're kind of spastic and stiff, but they would lay down and kind of purr when I did that. So that's when I knew they liked me. It was good! [laughs]
Were you worried about being upstaged by them?
You're always upstaged by animals and children. Come on, man! [laughs] That's the fear we all have! But I don't mind. It's nice. I really enjoy having animals on set. I always bring my dogs to every film that I do. They're great, because they don't really care about you at all. It's all about them and their needs, and they're so innocent and adorable. Especially penguins.
Are there animals you don't get along with?
I don't really like reptiles at all. I'm not a big reptile person. Or rodents. I've worked with rodents. I'm not big on the rodents either.
Many people think that penguins mate for life. Do you think that's possible?
That is the message that we're getting across in the movie, certainly. But they don't. I think they just stay together during the time that they choose a mate. They impregnate them and then they just stay together for that one time--that one round. And then they'll come back and do it again with somebody else. Whereas other animals just jump from one animal to the next and don't stay with one mate.
[Editorial note: A quick internet search reveals that while some penguins mate for life, others just do what Jessica says: hook up, hatch an egg, care for a baby penguin one season, and then bone out to repeat the whole process with another mate at a later date. See? Interviews can be educational. You just learned penguins are semi-players.]
Do you believe in curses, or do you think some people are just particularly lucky or unlucky in love?
[laughs] I think everyone brings it on to themselves. I have to believe that that's the way it is, because it's so random, why things happen. Because some people, bad things always happen. My aunt, like every car she has, they break. Every car. Whether it's brand new, whether it's old, whether it's my car, if she's driving it, it's going to break. So I just think that you just carry around an energy, and you enforce that upon everything. [laughs] So whether it's breaking cars involuntarily or getting in relationships and constantly sort of not finding your match...Yeah, I think it's about creating patterns, breaking them, and learning from them. And sometimes if you're not willing to be that introspective, you just kind of go in circles.
Have you ever used a pickup line on a guy?
No. You know, I'm bad with all that stuff. A) I can't tell a joke. Can't. To save my life. And B) I'm a terrible liar. So I think you have to be able to tell a joke and you have to be able to lie to pick someone up with a line. [laughs]
Actually, would you even need a pickup line?
Ummm...I don't know. [shyly] I get embarrassed! If I have a crush on someone, I get all like squirmy and quiet and giggly. And I never know what to say. And my mouth gets dry and the heart beats fast. I get completely stupid.
What's the worst line you've heard, on the receiving end?
Oh, I've heard all of them. Anything terrible, I've heard that.
Did you have any input on Cam's wardrobe?
Yeah, I totally did all the wardrobe for the movie. I did for Fantastic Four as well.
So in terms of designers, how did Cam's threads compare to Sue Storm's?
Gosh, it's so different. In [Good Luck Chuck], because of who she was and where she comes from, I used a lot of independent designers from LA. [Corey Lynn Calter] was one of them. American Apparel and Juicy. I used a lot of Gap. You know, it was more affordable stuff. And then in Fantastic Four, I wore a lot of Dolce Gabbana, Versace, and Roger Vivier was mostly the shoes that I used--a little more high end, because she was a rich scientist living in Manhattan, so it was more appropriate. But yeah, I love doing that kind of stuff. It's fun. Because when you are playing a character, you feel everything, especially when you put on the clothes. You really kind of step into their skin.
Do you have a particular scene from the movie that is your favorite?
Yeah. There was this scene where Dane and I kind of have our first night together hanging out, and a bunch of random events happen to where he needs to take me to my house so I can get a key. And it was sort of the first time I did a lot of the physical comedy that wasn't written at all in the movie, and I could just be free and have fun. And Dane and I, we have a really great chemistry. And we were just playing off each other and having a great time, and we turned the scene into something better. And that was really cool, because I think it makes the movie better as well, because you can see the connection that these two people have. You want them to be together. [laughs]
Going into the project, did you have any preconceived notions on what it would be like to work with Dane?
I really didn't, to be honest with you. I knew it was going to be fun, because Dane and I, the second we met each other, just got along. It was like I'd known the guy forever, and we just have a good time. We have a great rapport.
Were you okay with the comedy in this movie being R-rated?
Yeah. I think it's funny. I think it makes it feel more real, more authentic. I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of all of the romantic comedies that have come out in the past five years, because I felt like a lot of them were too soft and didn't seem real. And I want the characters to be more tangible. And in this movie...I mean, yeah, they're crazy, but at least they feel kind of real. They are eccentric, but they feel like somebody you know. Some of the things that Dan Fogler says are so out of control! [laughs] But, you know, I have a friend that talks like that and acts crazy. So yeah, I wasn't offended at all. I thought it was kind of cool that the studio allowed us to do that.
How was your experience of working with Mark Helfrich on his directorial debut?
He was very excited about being a director every day. [laughs] He was like a little kid in a candy store. It was actually quite endearing. Like every day, he was having a "pinch me" moment, and he was just so happy to be there. He's been an editor for a very long time, and I think this was something he'd always wanted to do, and it was kind of like his dream was coming true.
You've talked about watching movies and listening to music while you are preparing for a role. What material prepped you for Good Luck Chuck?
A lot of Goldie Hawn, Lucille Ball. I think those were my main two. Peter Sellers...I enjoy it. Because you're kind of going through film school with each film as well, and educating yourself with different things. I did watch a little Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's. You know, those fun classics. Because I wanted to get in touch with the girl that's super in love and has these great dreams and ideas of love and relationships and all that. Because it's a combination of a romantic comedy and a physical comedy.
What surprised or shocked you the most in making this film?
Just that comedy is very precise. And when you find the funny moments, you kind of have to just stay within those boundaries. So even though it's free and open and you have to put yourself out there, it's very controlled and pre-meditated. And it's hard to try and make that an organic moment when everything is so contrived. That was definitely shocking for me.
Are you looking to pursue interests outside of the whole world of show business?
Yeah, certainly. I mean, I probably want to get more involved in charities that I'm already involved in. I would like to maybe explore the broadband aspect of bringing women together, their awareness through using the internet with issues that I believe are important, and that people should be conscious of, without being preachy...That stuff's important to me. So yeah, I do want to do other things. Just right now, I'm trying to figure this out and build it to a place where I'm comfortable enough to go away from it for a little while.