I admit that when I think quality acting, I do not immediately think ‘Jessica Biel.’ But I might have to re-evaluate my opinion of the actress, after what she recently said about the challenges of classical Hollywood.
In an interview with The Playlist (via Total Film), Biel had this to say about the industry of yesteryear:
“I don’t know if I could have made it back then. I feel like back then, you had to be a triple threat – acting, singing, dancing. And you had to go through all these changes in your appearance to be who they wanted you to look like.
And the rehearsal process used to be so much bigger. Even when I first started out, you could rehearse for two weeks, three weeks, a month, and we don’t do that anymore. Now, you’re on your own, in your room, crossing your fingers, hoping you’re going to get it right.”
Well, she’s certainly right about that. Jessica Biel plays Psycho actress Vera Miles in Hitchcock, opposite Anthony Hopkins as the Master of Suspense. While the film does not dwell too much on their slightly stormy relationship – Hitchcock was tough on all of his actors, Miles not excepted – there’s no doubt that there’s a fundamental difference between the way Biel works now, and the way that Miles was forced to work.
Jessica Biel might be getting some of her facts screwed up, though. Changing physical appearances for roles has actually become more popular in contemporary Hollywood: witness Robert de Niro in Raging Bull or Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. Many actors now also get more rehearsal time than when they were expected to churn out four or five (or more) films a year.
Still, it’s nice to hear a contemporary actress expressing admiration for her forebears. Wish we heard more of that sometimes.
You can catch Biel in Hitchcock now, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city where it’s in limited release.