Lil' Romeo Finds Big Sis In Co-Star Jessica Alba

Actress offers reassurance, homework help during shooting of 'Honey.'

NEW YORK — Jessica Alba worked double duty on the set of "Honey," starring as the title character in the movie and acting as a real-life big sister to co-star Lil' Romeo.

Along with helping him do his homework and that sort of thing, Alba was always there to remind him of an important fact of life: He's filthy rich.

"Romeo would come to work with all his chains and this big ol' watch with all these diamonds, all this bling," Alba recalled recently. "He's wearing the cost of my house and he's 12. Then he'd have to take it all off and he'd be [worried and have to tell himself], 'It's OK, they know [the character's] not Romeo.' I was like, 'Don't worry, Romeo, they know you're not poor. Trust me, sweetheart!' "

Alba spent quality time with the heir to the No Limit throne ("Jessica Alba Flashdances, Sneaks A Taste Of 'Honey' "), but Romeo wasn't the only rapper along for "Honey"'s sweet ride. Missy Elliott, Tweet, Ginuwine and Jadakiss all play themselves in the movie, which opens November 14.

Director Bille Woodruff, whose résumé includes Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and other videos, described "Honey" as "a hip-hop version of 'Saturday Night Fever,' but modern."

In the movie, Alba plays a video choreographer who deals with sexual advances from her mentor by leaving the business and opening an inner-city dance studio. Joy Bryant ("Antwone Fisher") and Mekhi Phifer ("8 Mile") co-star, the latter as Honey's love interest.

"It's a great date movie," Alba said. "Something for the guys, something for the girls. It's a really good story and you leave the movie just feeling good. There's a lot of negativity in the world and I wanted to do this because it's so positive. It's a feel-good movie, but it's not corny, so you don't feel like, 'Oh jeez.' "

The former "Dark Angel" star was not a dancer before the movie, so Alba trained for three and a half months before shooting. "I always wanted to be a dancer when I was kid, which is another reason I did the movie," she said. "Nobody believed me that I didn't dance before, because I was so amped. I was practicing at like level 10 at rehearsal."

Laurie Ann Gibson, who has worked with the likes of P. Diddy and Mary J. Blige, choreographed the dance scenes and also acts in the movie, playing Honey's nemesis.

"The dancing is really different from what's in other movies," Woodruff said. "[It's more like] what's going on in music videos and in the streets."

Now that "Honey" has finished production, Alba has move on to her next project, a still-untitled movie she'll produce with Universal Pictures.

"It's a psychological thriller with action. It's kind of dark, sort of 'La Femme Nikita,' 'Bourne Identity,' 'Three Days of the Condor' — sort of a hybrid of those," Alba said. "No CGI. I used a lot of that stuff on 'Dark Angel' and I don't want that on this movie. I want it to be real gritty with lots of fighting, but real good fighting."