Q&A With… Jessica Biel

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Jessica Biel wearing a sequined mini dress

With two predicted blockbusters set to hit the big screen this year, Jessica Biel‘s career doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Voted the world’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2005, the future Mrs. Justin Timberlake talks fitness, music, and fashion.

Is it nice to play somebody who’s not glamorous, as you do in The Tall Man?

Yes, I think so. It’s nice to do something that has nothing to do with your hair when you are always being touched up and your hair and makeup has to be great. For this role it was: ‘Put the black circles on, don’t give me any touch ups.’ All I needed to be touched up with was more dirt, more life, more sweat. Dirt, blood, sweat. It just seems like the kinds of parts where you don’t have to be glamorous are the parts that you really care about. There are so many parts where you can be the beautiful wife, the beautiful girlfriend, the beautiful teacher. I mean, beautiful is fun too, but it’s rare to find these roles where you can just be plain and simple, real, dirty, gross, not beautiful. It was very cool. I liked doing that kind of thing.

What car did you drive when you were younger?

I like old cars. When I first drove, I drove a Bronco, a Ford Bronco. It was like a big, huge square.

Why that one? Did someone buy it for you?

I bought it myself when I was sixteen. It was my choice. It was a used 1994 Bronco. I just think I thought it was super cool, and big, and macho.

What are you driving now? Do you like to drive?

I do like to drive. I don’t like to drive in the city traffic, but I like to go on road trips. I’m driving an Audi station wagon right now. It’s nice; I like it.

You mentioned that you weren’t afraid of getting dirty and not being glamorous. I’m wondering, is it harder for people to take you seriously in those roles?

I think it’s tricky because there’s an image, right? A part of this business is promoting; you have to go this press thing, and you have to go to that premiere, and you have to look a certain way, and that’s not necessarily who you are as a person. I’ll tell you this; I don’t look like this on a daily basis. I wish I lived with a makeup and hair person – not really (laughs) – but I feel like I watch myself in The Tall Man and I look more like me than I do when I see myself in the mirror looking like this. That’s me without any makeup and that’s what I look like in the morning when I wake up – other than the crazy blood and dark circles.

It is tricky because you have that persona, people sort of perceive you as one thing, and if you want to do something that’s simpler or more stripped down you really have to prove that you can look other ways. But that’s just what this business is about. You are constantly fighting your way out of a box that someone’s put you in and just having to knock down doors.

Jessica Biel wearing a feathered mini dress

"I think you just have to feel confident in what you’re wearing and feel good, empowered by it. Who cares what anybody says? I just don't; it's a slippery slope."

When you’re a teenager, or even a pre-teenager, there’s a moment when every girl wants to be a princess, when every girl is looking at the glamorous magazines and dreams of that. Did you want those things?

I don’t really think I wanted to be any of that until I was a little bit older. I think maybe it has been in the last couple of years that I’ve felt like ‘Oh yeah, I’d like to be a little bit more glamorous.’ I just have a little bit more self-awareness and awareness about fashion now than I did when I was a kid. I didn’t grow up looking at magazines really. I mean, I looked at them, but I wasn’t the kind of person who got one every week. My mom didn’t get magazines. We didn’t look at that stuff. I don’t know why.

Did you often go to the movies?

I think I did see a decent amount of movies back then. That was something that I did with my family, and of course when you’re a kid and you can’t really drive and can’t really go to a bar you go to the movies. I would really like to see more movies than I do; I try to as often as possible. I need to do it more.

What about Total Recall? Do you share any similarities with your character? She’s pretty fierce.

She’s a warrior, she’s a survivor, and she’s in a relationship with this man who doesn’t remember her. It’s a unique situation, but I would say I’m a survivor. I’m someone who will work effortlessly until I achieve what I’m looking to achieve. I will fight to be remembered.

Does your own personal relationship work by inspiring and pushing each other forward?

I think that’s what you do with all your relationships in life. Otherwise what’s interesting about a person who is not inspiring you? Do you know what I mean?

Do you consider yourself more of a tomboy than a girly girl?

Yes, I think so. Growing up, I had my set of dolls and Barbies but I was more interested in adventure, outdoor stuff, and sports than I was in dressing up.

Do you enjoy this job and the world you live in? Does it feel silly sometimes?

I have embraced that idea. I mean I have an awareness of when it becomes over the top and it’s a little silly because, in the big scheme of things, it really doesn’t mean anything – we’re talking spiritually, big-world kind of thing. But I feel like, at this point in my life, I can really look at fashion and clothes; it’s somebody’s art form! That particular designer created that because that’s their output. Mine is one thing, yours is something else, but that person is creating her own art. So that’s the way I look at it, and I can really respect that.

Jessica Biel wearing a black cowboy hat

"I had a year and a half in college so I had the experience, but I should have stayed."

Are you faithful to certain designers? Do you have contracts with specific brands or do you wear what you want?

I don’t have rules to follow necessarily and I don’t wear only one particular designer but I definitely take advice from the women I look up to when it comes to fashion. Depending on the kind of event I’m going to, I wouldn’t want to be overdressed or underdressed. For me, being overdressed is the scariest thing ever. I would rather be underdressed, which is funny. I don’t know why that is. I mean, listen, people talk all the time. They judge all the time and you can’t win because someone will say it was the most beautiful dress ever and the other one will hate it. It’s weird but it is whatever it is. I think you just have to feel confident in what you’re wearing and feel good, empowered by it. Who cares what anybody says? I just don’t; it’s a slippery slope.

Do you ever feel like the junior partner on a movie set?

I do sometimes, but I’m perfectly fine with that. I don’t mind. I’ll be happy to learn from these senior executives. I have plenty of time to become one (laughs).

How do you keep in shape?

I don’t do much. I do a cool new kind of fitness technique; my aunt is a Zumba instructor and I like it, it’s fun! I do yoga, I work with a trainer, and I enjoy doing some normal gym workouts. I hike a lot and sometimes take an occasional ballet class or an exercise class but, for me, it’s to change it up.

Is there a lot of music in your household?

I’m constantly listening to music, constantly changing the iPod and setting the mood. For example, here in the morning when doing makeup and hair, I was listening to Gotye. Music is an amazing thing. It’s really the international language, isn’t it?

You sing too, do you plan to have a record one of these days?

No, I don’t plan to have that. I would like to do something on stage maybe. That would be nice.

What kind of music?

I kind of like oldies, the classic kind of jazzy. I love Chet Baker, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin… I really love that style, that kind of music, but I don’t necessarily listen to that. I think my secret dream is to be a glamorous lounge singer, sitting on the piano, singing away at cocktail hours or something (laughs).

Do you feel like you missed out on college and university because you had started working?

I had a year and a half there so I had the experience, but I should have stayed. I feel like I missed out on a couple of years with my girlfriends in a crazy apartment, going abroad for a year and living there. I really wish I’d gone to France and learned the language. I feel like I’m close but if I could just get absorbed with the culture it would change and I don’t know when I’m going to do that… So yes, I do feel like I missed out on a couple of key years. I might disappear for a year or two, why not?

Photos: Courtesy of TRUNK ARCHIVE

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