While not an out-and-out adrenaline junkie, Jessica Biel likes a little action in her life.
Alongside dramatic pieces like The Illusionist (2006) and Easy Virtue (2008), Biel's film CV is peppered with physical roles, from the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) through Blade: Trinity (2004) and Stealth (2005) to her recent outing in The A-Team (2010).
And now she's at it again with a physically enervating role in Total Recall, a high-intensity, futuristic action-drama that opened here on Thursday.
The 30-year-old US actress plays resistance fighter Melina in this Len Wiseman-directed update of Philip K. Dick's short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
Much like Rachel Ticotin's portrayal in the 1990 Total Recall movie shot by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, Melina plays an integral role in the journey of the protagonist Quaid, a role played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original and reprised now by Irish actor Colin Farrell.
Besides preparing for her upcoming nuptials with US singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake, Biel is also busy tying up loose ends on Hitchcock, a biopic of the legendary director which sees her starring opposite Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson.
How different is your character Melina in this film from the original?
Her profession is a bit different, but then the tone (of the movie) is so different that it is difficult for me to compare any of the characters in the two movies.
She is really a reinvention of the original character that Rachel (Ticotin) had created. She is still a warrior and still a survivor and she is quite ballsy, I guess.
In the original, she didn't take any crap from Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and I don't think my character takes any crap from Colin.
The basic element is the same, but Len's vision changes how you deliver every line, and who she is, and what the backstory is, and all of that.
You clearly enjoy physical roles…
It feels very comfortable. It's rare, being a woman, to be able to use your body in the way that we can use our body in these kinds of films.
I don't do that kind of thing on an everyday basis, but I find it really fulfilling. It's amazing; you get to learn so much, about different martial arts, or boxing or whatever it is, which is great.
You have some action scenes in the movie, including a big fight with Kate Beckinsale's character Lori.
Were there any mishaps during those scenes?
I don't think Kate and I had any mishaps, luckily. I didn't have any mishaps with Colin either because we were never fighting each other.
Stunt-wise, I did everything that Len would possibly allow me to do, and I would be hovering by the camera with my harness on going, "I'm ready! I'm here!"
Apart from the physicality, what else drew you to Total Recall?
Well, I thought it sounded really fun and also very different from the first movie. At the time that the original was made, it was such a feat in terms of computer-generated imagery.
Now, to look back at it, it doesn't necessarily hold up in that way, but the tone and the fun of it is still there.
Len made the right choice by really rebooting the idea...
I don't think you want to mess with (the original). It was perfect the way that it was.
Do you follow a set fitness and diet regime or do you modify it for each different film?
I constantly modify and change it for whatever movie I am doing and let it go when I am not working.
It is intense when you are working, not only being in physical shape but to be able to keep your energy up for 15 hours requires a really particular type of food intake.
If you are spiking with sugar and having lots of breads, you are just overloading and you are exhausted.
I modify my regime when I am not working. Maybe I am not in a gym all the time. Maybe I go to a yoga class every day, or for a run, or to a ballet class.
You know, it's good to change it and not make it boring.
Do you remember any epiphany that sparked your interest in acting?
It started happening when I was young, although I do remember saying to my mum that I wanted to take voice lessons when I went with her to her voice lessons.
So she gave me her voice lessons and that turned into theatre camp, and that turned into acting and that turned into the television show and that turned into the movies.
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