Jessica Biel’s idea of having a good time in a movie, as described during this conversation for Len Wiseman’s reboot of Total Recall, may not be what you’d typically hear from an actress clobbering her way through a sci-fi action thriller—basically the satisfaction of a good gender equality beat-down while flexing her muscles onscreen. Mulled over while scrutinizing the pros and cons of starring in Total Recall: strange happenings during filming, such as those inconvenient wedgies while sulking upside-down, sidebar mermaid fantasies and contemplating mental implants for real.
1. Now about your fight scenes, have we come to the point where women can really duke it out? Not just those usual scratch and cat fights, but a real knock-out, drag-out brawl? It is! It’s good, isn’t it? I think so! I mean, especially being the girl who gets to do it! You know, you don’t always want to be objectified and sexualized. Well, sometimes that’s okay! But when you’re doing a movie like this, you want to feel like an equal. Like the gender neutrality in this particular fight, I think was what was really exciting, you know?
2. How so? Because it wasn’t about anything but two incredibly capable warrior women and just beating the shit out of each other! That’s it. Because men get to do that all the time. So it was pretty fun for us to do that, too.
3. After kicking so much ass on screen, is there a risk that you could start to believe you can do it in the real world? I think, yes! I think you sort of get an unrealistic view of your abilities. I think for sure, I do. But then you also have learned some things. So I think I could have some moves that maybe I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t done a couple of films like this. But I definitely have an unrealistic warped view of like…facing off with a big guy! Like, oh I could take that guy. For sure, I think that. But then I would not go down that way, I’m sure!
4. Well, have you ever been overcome instinctively now—like if somebody taps you on the shoulder—to grab them and twist their arm? Ha! Not really! No, the problem with me is that I’m a super-trusting person. Like a mugger could tap me on the shoulder, and I’ll be, ‘Oh my gosh. Hi! What do you need, bus fare?’ Yeah, I’m more that person. And less like, huh, ‘Who’s that!’ I don’t have that, I think, in my DNA. And that’s probably an issue for me, I don’t know.
5. What was the toughest scene for you? The toughest scene…Well, the zero gravity stuff, where Colin and I are floating. But to shoot us, they had to turn the cameras upside-down, and hung us in wires on a harness, upside-down. And it was the craziest thing. And you don’t believe it. But that was how we shot it. Upside-down, and pretending to be right-side up. And it was so uncomfortable. Neck straining, and harness, like digging into your ribs. And giving you a wedgie! Making you miserable. And blood rushing to your head. And looking like you have to go to the bathroom! It was bizarre. And really physically, like the weirdest thing I had to do, by far.
6. If you could have an adventure like in this movie, what would it be? Well, I’ve had a lot of ideas about what the adventure would be. I think, you know, space adventure would be cool. And I’d like to be a mermaid underwater. That would be cool. I have lots of fantasites, about weird things like that!
7. So would you ever implant a sci-fi device into you head, if that ever became an option to do it? I don’t think so. I’m kinda freaked out about implants! In general. And I’m not really a techie person either. So I’m not into that, but I’m into hover cars. I’m been waiting for that hover board forever. Where’s that! I mean, c’mon. What’s going on here.