BEVERLY HILLS, California — With the release of “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” on Friday, audiences and critics will no doubt gather to toast its stars, actors who are ranked among Tinseltown’s greatest comedic talents: Adam Sandler and Kevin James, of course — Dan Aykroyd as well. And … Jessica Biel?
Don’t laugh. Or rather, do laugh — since Biel happens to be damn funny. Not that you’d know from watching the 25-year-old’s rather eclectic filmography, however, which includes action (“Blade: Trinity”), horror (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), even drama (“The Illusionist”) — but, up until now, no comedy.
“I’m definitely not just a serious person, [but] I have done a lot of films that are more serious in nature,” Biel said. “I think this [movie] is sort of my first little baby steps into showing another side of myself — a little bit sillier, goofier … more relatable.”
But being relatable has given Biel a whole lot of trouble. Because while a smiling Sandler likened her to the girl next door, we don’t know anyone who ever lived next door to the “Sexiest Women Alive,” which is exactly what Biel was named by Esquire magazine in 2005.
“It’s always a balance when you’re dealing with sexuality,” she conceded. She admitted that because of the way she’s perceived, “The things that I really, really want are not just being handed to me — they’re being given to other people. I’ve got to get in the room, I’ve got to audition. That’s a big part of where I am.”
But where Biel is right now isn’t half as interesting as where she might go, considering her biggest obstacle isn’t necessarily transitioning from being a sexy action star into being a sexy comedienne, but from being an actress who’s thought of in terms of her sexuality into being just an actress. Period.
Which is part of the reason Biel is so eager to shed her sultry image, she revealed, whether that means uglying herself up like Charlize Theron in “Monster” or gaining lots of weight like Renée Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
“I want to do everything,” she confessed. “I always want to try something completely different from what I just did. I would definitely love to take on something that is physically totally different from what I look like and what I’m used to doing, do something like a ’Monster.’ It’s a dream,” she continued. “I have to push myself and try something I’ve never tried before, put myself out there, be vulnerable and really take a huge risk.”
For Biel doing things that scare her is the first step toward deciding on a project. And if that means wrestling for a few more roles she wouldn’t normally be considered for, that may be the best part, she said.
“I enjoy winning something, I enjoy earning it — not just, ’Oh, hey, we want you to do this movie,’ ” she maintained. “Not that I would say no to that for some particular pieces, but it feels really good when you think, ’OK, well I really can do it, because I just beat out a plethora of really amazing actresses.’ ”
It’s no longer high comedy to say that the versatile Biel belongs among their company.
“She’s great,” Sandler insisted. “She can do anything.”
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