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Jessica Alba on Playing Blind

Published January 28, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Lionsgate.
The Eye Poster The Eye
The Eye tells the age old horror story of a miracle medical procedure that ends up making things worse than the original problem. Jessica Alba plays a blind person whose new eye transplant allows her to see ghosts. Even before all that craziness happens, just playing blind and a blind person adjusting to the sighted world was an acting extravaganza.

Alba Blind in The Eye

"The adjustment to sight [was harder] for sure because I’m so used to seeing," said Alba. "Having to then, like in this room, instead of looking at anyone’s face, I’d probably focus more on the table because that’s the one thing that stands out., The white of the table and then maybe like the color of your shirt. You kind of pick up on things differently."

An actual blind woman advised Alba in her performance. "I learned from her that just because you are blind and have this handicap that it really doesn’t need to impede anything in your life except for driving. That’s the only thing she doesn’t do. She travels by herself, takes subways and taxis. She goes to Europe. She was walking on the wrong side of the road in England, crossing the street and people who are sighted still can’t really figure that out. She’s fine doing that. I just thought it was incredible that she gets around in life and, to be honest, most cities aren’t equipped with Braille so she has to rely on other people to tell her if it’s a women’s room or a men’s room or what’s on the menu if she wants to buy something. When she goes shopping, she has to trust that the sales clerk is telling her the right colors so she can label everything properly."

The character in the film is also fine with being blind. It is only her family that pushes her to have the procedure. "I wanted it to be not something that she had to cope with but something that was part of who she was and she was fine with it and totally functioning in the world and quite independent and self-sufficient. She had a regular job. It’s not like she had a job for someone with special needs or anything. She was totally fine and it’s kind of society that tells you that you need to be like everyone else was a reason why she did it. Primarily her sister and, when she got her sight, is when she actually became more handicapped than ever and she sort of fell apart. I liked that role reversal mentality."

For the blind scenes, Alba wore cloudy contacts out of which she really could not see. "I couldn’t see at all. On the set they didn’t really want me walking around so I had to get taken in a wheelchair everywhere. There’s cables and plywood and cameras. It hurts your eyes I think if you keep continuing to taking them in and out. You have to let them sit in there for awhile. [It was] claustrophobic a little bit. It wasn’t everyday, but some days it was long periods of time of not being able to see. I was relieved to get my sight back when I got it. Even having the bloodshot contacts in really impairs your vision. It was trippy."

The Eye opens to theaters on February 1st.

For the trailer, poster, and more movie info, go to the The Eye Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Lionsgate.

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