By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
The Illusionist may have been the tallest order on Jessica Biel’s talents yet in her career. The grind of weekly television or the physical demands of action movies have nothing on doing a period foreign accent and creating a believable romance with intense actors like Edward Norton.
Jessica Biel On The Illusionist
“It was probably harder than I thought,” she said. “I definitely didn't expect it to be easy but I put a lot of pressure on myself to get the accent really right and that was a constant worry and challenge every day. So that was my main thing and creating a relationship and a love between two people in a very short amount of time that never really could express itself until one moment and it was a challenge. It was a big challenge every day.”
Holding one’s own against Norton and Paul Giamatti is no picnic either. “Maybe a little bit intimidating on the first few days, but that's fun. It's really fun to be the one female around. It was a bit of a boys club. All those guys kind of went to school together and I'm a little bit younger than them, they're all around the same age. They knew each other before, but they were cool. They treated me really well and kind of brought me into the inner circle and it was fun. I was just treated as one of the guys, which is how I would prefer it anyway.”
The Illusionist Poster
Since Norton played the title magician, Biel never got to learn any of his tricks. “Edward learned everything. I didn't really get to spend much time with the advising magician either. I just sort of sat back and watched him learn all of the sleight of hand and everything. He was really good, too.”
She did pay attention to Norton’s acting instructions though. “He did give me some direction. I asked for it, too. I sad, 'You know, please. I'm open to it. Talk to me about what you think. Let's collaborate on this.' I don't remember exactly what it was, but I do remember he'd come and whisper something in my ear and it was always a great note, he always has great, great ideas.”
The Illusionist opens to theatres this Friday, August 18th.