JESSICA BIEL on Blade: Trinity|
Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment
In Blade: Trinity, infamous anti-hero Blade (Wesley Snipes) teams up with a group of vampire hunters known as the Nightstalkers to battle a deadly threat: the legendary Dracula. Among the members of the Nightstalkers are wisecracking jokester Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and sexy, pissed off slayer vixen Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), the daughter of Blade's long-time mentor and colleague, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson).
In this interview, Jessica Biel talks about the inspiration for her angry young character Abigail, some of the things she likes to do in her free time, and her idea of the perfect night out on the town.
MEDIA: Was taking the role of Abigail an intentional effort to break into action movies?
JESSICA: I'm always interested in doing something completely opposite from what I've just done. It wasn't intentional to do an action film, per se, it was intentional to do something different. And this just kind of fell into my lap. It's funny, I used to try to have some sort of a path that I had planned out. "This is where I go next, and then this is where I go next." And then every time I do that, something like Blade happens and I go, "Oh, this looks great. It's not at all what I thought I'd be doing, but that's what I should do because it feels right and I love the director, I love the producers, I love the script."
From an acting standpoint, what's the challenge in a movie like this?
I think the challenge is to get beyond the idea of "action movie" and create a character in a movie that's a real person, not just an action person who's tough and "I just kill people and I'm one layer." I want to go past the genre. It's what I felt about [The Texas Chainsaw Massacre]. I wanted to do something that people will look at and not just go, "Oh, it's a horror movie, it's nothing." Like it was the most difficult creative challenge of my life, and it was a horror movie. And nobody really gives the credit to a horror movie. It's so difficult.
In what way was it difficult?
Well, every day working in such a high intensity of emotion. Being terrified, being scared, being hurt, being upset, crying, emotional...that's not easy to maintain this same level day after day after day after day. And what people don't understand about a horror film is that's what you do. You have to work yourself up into a mess, basically. So it's really hard, and I think people don't give actors in horror movies enough credit. It was an emotional roller coaster every day, for me at least. And so I thought this is a chance to cross the boundaries again and make this a dramatic action movie, make you look at this character and care about them and see the different layers of this person--being vulnerable, but also being tough, and being feminine, but also being kickass. And I thought it was a challenge to bring those colors into her.
What personal feelings did you harness to get into the mindset of Abigail?
I went to the places in myself that are angry. Whatever I'm angry about, things that have happened in my past, things that I harbor. Whatever the anger is, I went there.
Did you tap into a specific experience that you'd care to share?
I don't know if I want to get into that. I feel like it's a little personal. It has things to do with my family, what's happened to me in my past, and I don't really want to get into it. But that's usually where I go, to the people that mean something to me in my life--if something has happened against them that makes me so mad. If something happened to my little brother, and I go there, then that makes me want to have revenge. And that's where I felt this character, what she was dealing with.
How did you approach Abigail's backstory?
[Director] David Goyer and I talked a lot about Abigail. Her mind, her inner struggle is where Blade was in the first film, where he was just angry and unrelenting and just [wanted] to kill everybody and destroy everything. That's where she is. And he has had an arc over the last three films where he knows that this is the way it is and he might not ever be able to change it completely, so he's come to terms with it a little bit more. Abigail's still at that point of just being mad and wanting revenge, and that's where she is. So that's kind of why I went to those places of just pure malice, just wanting revenge on these people because they've destroyed this girl's family. She's alone in the world except for the people in the Nightstalkers.
Why was it important for you to tap into a personal anger for this character?
I feel like you need to tap into those places, because in every character that you create, that you play, a part of you comes into it. No matter how much you step away from yourself, I have to go with what I know. I have to use something of my life that's real to me to make the stakes high. For me to just go, "I have to kill the vampires!"...what does that mean to me? I don't have any vampires in my life. I'm not killing any vampires in my life, no vampire has done anything to my family, you know. [laughs] So I have to go somewhere within my reality and my world to create that hatred for something, and substitute what really makes me mad, what really gets me heated, so I can walk on set: "I want to kick the sh*t out of everybody!"
How did you relate to the fact that Abigail's a bit of a tomboy?
[laughs] Well, that's funny, because I absolutely relate to her being a tomboy. I am very much a tomboy. I mean, I also like to wear feminine things and pretty girly things, but I fought with my publicist to wear these today. [gestures to her sneakers] I mean, we argued about it. [laughs] We argue about it every day. And she finally gave in today. This is my one day for my Vans.
Aside from your nifty kicks, what else is tomboyish about you?
Well, everything in my life. Yes, I dress up a lot. I have to, it's my job, I'm going to a lot of functions and it's just part of it. And I don't mind it all the time. But I've always been an athlete. I was on a soccer team for years. I was a gymnast for six years. I was a dancer for a long time.
Do you have a favorite soccer player?
Well, I love the women's national team. I love Mia Hamm, she's pretty great. I think they're pretty exciting.
What about the men's team?
Men's team...ummm...you know, I could say an obvious answer like David Beckham or something, but I don't really watch to be honest. I like to play.
I used to play right mid-field. Right wing. So I ran a lot. [laughs] I've just been involved with sports my whole life, which made clothes and makeup and handbags and things not that important as a kid. I just didn't care. You know, somebody asked me the other day who was my style icon as a kid, and I was like, "I don't know...Michael Jordan?"
So are you still not really into the whole clothes/makeup/handbag thing?
I enjoy it more. I definitely still love my jeans and my t-shirts and I would much rather go to the gym and go for a run on the beach or play football with my guy friends than go to a fancy party and put on high heels and have a drink.
What's your take on the so-called "Hollywood party scene"?
It's not my favorite thing. [laughs] It's not who I am. I feel kind of like a phony, like I'm up there like, [exaggerated girly voice] "Oh, really, wow!" You know. I think if my friends would see me, they would totally bust my balls for it. [laughs] They would just totally bust my chops. Because they know I feel uncomfortable. Like if I'm ever in one of those situations, I'm looking around. I don't know anybody. I don't really know a lot of people in Hollywood. Yes, I know the people that I've worked with, and yes, I know a handful of actors, but I don't really go out to those places a lot. I go out to clubs once in a while and have a good dance, which I love. But it's just not my scene. I'd rather go bowling with my girlfriends or go to a dive bar, go to a karaoke bar or something like that.
What would be a perfect night for you?
Perfect night would be casually dressed. If we're talking like going out at night, go have a great meal somewhere. Stuff my face with good food and then go singing at a karaoke bar or go bowling somewhere. Or go out and go dancing at a cool place with a bunch of girls.
As an actress, are you technically allowed to stuff your face?
Oh, I stuff my face all the time. I definitely do. But I work out a lot, too. I feel like it's a balance. I love food. I mean, for Blade, I was on an incredibly strict diet. I eat very healthy. But you know what? You have to cheat. You have to go out and go to the fabulous restaurants in New York or wherever and just eat and enjoy it and drink great wine. You have to do that!