At the movies

Jessica Biel shows a maternal side in ‘The Truth About Emanuel’

Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images

Jessica Biel is not easy to pin down. The model turned actress, who first got noticed as a teen on TV’s Seventh Heaven, has really mixed things up over her 20-year (believe it) career: Roles run the gamut: the hot girlfriend ( I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Playing for Keeps); action babe ( Stealth, A-Team, Total Recall); retro prim-and-proper ( Hitchcock, The Illusionist); blood-soaked heroine ( Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Rarely has Biel played an unstable mom, until The Truth About Emanuel, out Friday. She is Linda, the next-door neighbor of a young woman ( Kaya Scodelario) with whom she forms an unusual bond. Emanuel is Linda’s babysitter and confidante, and the two share a chilling secret.

We spoke to the 31-year-old Minnesota-born, Colorado-raised beauty, aka Mrs. Justin Timberlake.

What drew you to this script?

I explain it as a story about grief and sort of guilt and shame. Emanuel feels guilt that her mother died at childbirth and feels responsible. My character has shame, and her link to reality has kind of snapped. The two characters come together and somehow find this bond.

What was the chemistry like on set?

We worked in actual houses in L.A. It was kind of hot and tight quarters. It felt like something was always simmering, there was something going on there. I first thought, ‘Oh my God, is my character going to be, like, intimate with this girl?’ But it wasn’t that vibe. The tone is hard to verbalize. It was just...weird but fascinating. We all got along really well. It was a really small film, and we went in every day knowing we had no time and no money but wanted to create something.

Did you ever babysit when you were younger?

I did. I remember going to a neighbor’s. I liked having access to other people’s refrigerators. The baby would go to sleep, and I would sit on the couch and eat [laughs]. Any sort of childcare or housekeeping, when you’re in someone else’s private space, is a very intimate thing. You have to have a lot of trust.

You’ve been in a good number of movies but still can’t be stereotyped. How did you manage that?

It’s wonderful to get to do different things. I would just be bored only doing big action dramas or romantic comedies. It really is a blessing to do something in the middle. That’s the fun part of the job. But I definitely can’t pick and choose roles. There are so many films I audition for and don’t get for whatever reason. And I die a little bit inside because it’s something I would have loved to have been a part of. But that’s part of the drive. It’s, ‘OK, fine. I didn’t that, but s--t, I’ll get the next one. I’m gonna fight for that dream role.’

Even when you’re dressed down, you look flawless. Any beauty secrets to impart?

I wish I had something really cool to say when I get asked these questions [laughs]. I definitely think water, water, water. Sleep is key, for sure. I’ve been at that place in my life when I tried this serum or that cream. As I get older, I’m simplifying. Find a line of products that you feel confident about: nontoxic, age-defying, sunscreen or whatever. You have to do what is manageable. I guess my biggest beauty secret would be to get outside, exercise and be in your environment.

Madeleine Marr

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • Celebrity birthdays on Aug 2

    Director Wes Craven is 75. Singer Kathy Lennon of The Lennon Sisters is 71. Actress Joanna Cassidy is 69. Actress Kathryn Harrold is 64. Actor Butch Patrick (“The Munsters”) is 61. Actress Victoria Jackson is 55. Actress Apollonia is 55. Actress Mary-Louise Parker is 50. Director Kevin Smith is 44. Actor Sam Worthington is 38. Actor Edward Furlong is 37. Actress Hallie Eisenberg is 22.

  • Scene in the Tropics

    Sean Connery loves soccer (and Caffe Abbracci)

    Sean Connery had dinner Monday night with a group of friends at Caffe Abbracci. Connery greeted and shook hands with fans as he entered the room and was overheard chatting with restaurant owner Nino Pernetti about the World Cup, saying he regrets that his native country Scotland did not qualify and that England was eliminated in the first round. He did concede that Germany was the rightful winner. Connery also told Pernetti that what he enjoys most in life after making movies is ... soccer. The ex 007 left the restaurant, saying “Cheerio,” to the owner and his starstruck guests.

  • As seen on TV

    Starz' ‘Outlander' brings novels to life

    Prepare to bend your mind. Premiering on the Starz network on Saturday at 9 p.m., Outlander is adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular novels. Claire, a lovely British Army nurse on a second honeymoon in Scotland, is mysteriously swept from 1945 back to 1743, plopped into a strange and alien existence, including marriage to a dashing Scottish warrior, even as she struggles to return to “modern” times and the husband she left behind.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category