Jessica Biel: A Hollywood actress making it much darker

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JESSICA BIEL

Together spoke this month to Jessica Biel, an actress who taken on a project that is far from what she is known for.

Jessica Biel knew the time was right to finally return to the small screen, 14 years after walking away from her breakthrough on sentimental hit, 7th Heaven.

“I’ve thought about it for a long time but this period now in television is special. It’s evolved in such a constructive way and the quality available, especially the quality of roles available to women, is remarkable.”

Her first significant role since the birth of son, Silas with husband, Justin Timberlake, Biel is taking on easily her most challenging and daunting roles to date in upcoming new series, The Sinner.

As Cora, she plays a suburban soccer mom who commits a brutal murder in front of her entire community, shattering the lives of those around her. But how could she do it? What compelled the young mother to attack a stranger?

Based on the bestseller by Petra Hammesfahr, it’s considered the 35-year-old comeback after being somewhat shunned by Hollywood following a string of flops. But the former pin-up, who flexed her brawn in Blade and Total Recall, is eager to reinvent her brand with this dark psychological drama. Although she admits there’s still some action to come down the line.

Friendly but reserved – with questions about Timberlake off limits – Biel happily chats about her history with the script, her role as producer and why The Sinner spoke to her as an actress. She also chats about her desire to be scared in her work, reflects on the challenges and changes motherhood has brought to her life and why it’s virtually impossible to stay in character with a two-year-old running around at home.  Splitting their time between LA and New York, Biel and Timberlake share two-year-old Silas.

Together: Before working on this series, what were your thoughts and what drew you in when you read the book?
Jessica Biel: This book was an intense, emotional, primaeval, reactive experience. I was stunned by it, by every page. Every page drew me in. I think, we think in this day and age, it’s impossible to shock and I don’t shock easily, we’ve all seen it before [laughs].

But every page, I was holding my breath, literally gripping the arm rest, if I was sitting in a chair at the time, or I’d be unknowingly tapping my fingers furiously, tapping my foot. It kept coming, the twists, the surprises, the ‘oh my god, I can’t believe this’ moments! I just couldn’t grasp the overwhelming unpredictability, every page turned was a glimpse behind a dark corner.