Biel isn’t really promoting anything right now. She has several films completed or in post-production, and she’s laying the groundwork for Total Recall. However, the interview focuses on her childhood and her start in acting for what makes a rather aimless, dry Q&A that it would appear she got for becoming engaged. Like Sienna Miller got the cover of British Vogue for falling pregnant when Miller wasn’t really promoting much either.
Biel got engaged in December but only started wearing her engagement ring the week this was released, in a series of staged, posey photo-ops that appeared to have been arranged exclusively with one paparazzi agency. It’s all timed and contrived and not really worth the hype for an interview where she doesn’t even address being engaged or her relationship with Justin Timberlake.
On the first movie she remembers seeing: “The Goonies. I never identified with girls, and the cast was all boys. Girls were nervous about going into caves; they were scaredy-cats and I wasn’t into that at all. I loved the idea of being with a crew and having an adventure. I was really interested in pits full of snakes.”
On whether she was raised as a tom-boy: “Somewhat. We lived in Colorado, and my parents were outdoorsy mountain people. My father would always say, ‘Go out and don’t come back until you have something to show me.’ Which meant he wanted me to come back with a scraped knee or an injury. When I went out to play, I felt like I’d better get hurt.”
On whether she played with gender-norm toys: “I did, but it was always, ‘Let’s play sex with Barbies!’ My Barbies were usually naked. Once, I took their heads off, cut their hair, drew on their short, spiky hair with some markers, then stuck the heads on Christmas lights. Every year, we’d string our tree with those Barbie heads. It looked demonic. My parents were so cool; they saw it as a form of self-expression.”
On how she started as an actress: “When I was 11, I was in a competition sponsored by the International Modeling and Talent Association. You paid a certain amount of money and they taught you to walk a runway, present a comedic monologue, a dramatic monologue, a dance routine, and a song. My runway look was a one-piece bathing suit, a top hat, and a bow tie. The competition was in L.A., and afterward I got a manager and an agent. I tried out for a billion things, and after three years, I was cast on the show 7th Heaven.”
On how she looked out-of-place, and too sporty on 7th Heaven: “Looking back I can see that, but at the time I literally didn’t care if I was the wrong race or wrong gender; I wanted that part. I wanted any part. And that show was fun. I was a basketball player who was going through all the stuff that a 14-year-old goes through, which is, as you know, completely psychotic.”
On her rebellious teens: “I cut my hair supershort and dyed it blonde. I had to apologize to Aaron Spelling [the producer] for doing that. He wasn’t happy. When I turned 17 or 18, a really obnoxious friend sent a stripper to the set. I had to apologize for that too. The show was all about family values, and they took that position seriously. I was always apologizing.”
On leaving the show to go to college and whether she considered quitting acting: “I was always connected to the business. I came back to L.A. after a year and a half and auditioned for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That shook me up in a really good way.”
On whether she focuses on physicality or being pretty: “I’ve always been physical. I have no concept of what life is like without physical activity.”
On whether she’s fearless: “Not completely. But I do like a good fight scene.”
On fighting Kate Beckinsale in Total Recall: “Fun, so fun! Our fight scene isn’t overtly sexy: just two trained fighters who happen to be women kicking the shit out of each other. It could be two dudes, but we just happened to have long hair and boobs and…other things [laughs].”
On her first girl-girl fight scene: “Kate and I usually fight men in movies, and when you knock into a man, he doesn’t care. But every two seconds, Kate and I were saying, ‘I’m so sorry, are you okay?’ We were both so nervous about fighting another woman. Which is strange, because I have no problem fighting with a guy. In truth, I like doing anything that requires breaking a sweat.”
On whether it’s cool to be healthy in Hollywood: “I think I need to destroy my reputation. This whole I’m outdoorsy, I’m really healthy; it’s too squeaky-clean. That’s going to be my new thing: Go dark and unhealthy. It’s time to be very, very bad.” – via W Magazine.