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Friday 22 September 2017

Team work secures Biel's Hollywood A-listing

Jessica Biel's latest role is unlikely to win any awards but it will keep her in the limelight, says Evan Fanning

Evan Fanning

Jessica Biel is a very modern movie star. Most people can picture her easily (she's fairly hard to forget) or will know she is in a relationship with Justin Timberlake.

She might be known for appearing on the red carpet or in a glamorous photo shoot, but ask someone to name three films she's been in and you'll get something like, "oh, that thing with that guy".

Biel is by no means alone in being a movie star without having many, if any, memorable movie performances to her name. But it would be wrong to believe that the 28 year old is some fame-hungry celebrity.

In fact it couldn't be further from the truth. Being in the spotlight isn't part of the game for Biel, even if her relationship with Timberlake makes her ideal fodder for the US tabloids.

"It's weird, to be honest," Biel has said of the press intrusion into her life. "People follow you all day long, taking photos of you walking out of offices and coffee shops. It feels strange and invasive. It's just a job and it's an amazing job, and has incredible perks... In my opinion, I just have a really great job and that's what it is for me."

Having risen to prominence in Pulp Fiction writer Roger Avary's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction, Biel had a box-office, if not critical, success with a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Roles in Blade: Trinity, Stealth and an acclaimed performance in The Illusionist followed. As did another box-office hit in I Now Pronounce you Chuck & Larry. Last year she appeared in a film version of the Noel Coward play Easy Virtue, and had a role in Valentine's Day earlier this year, but then so did everybody else.

Her latest role, as the feisty and determined Charissa Sosa in the big screen adaptation of The A-Team, will certainly put Biel in the spotlight once again.

Her appearance in London to promote the movie caused something of a stir, as the floor-length red gown she wore to the premiere turned out to be slightly see-through when exposed to camera flash, revealing her black underwear beneath.

The day after the night before she gathers with her fellow cast to discuss the movie. As Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (who plays BA Baracus) questions why they hold a press conference first thing the morning after the premiere (it's actually 4pm), Biel pipes up to say, "I'm with you 100 per cent on that."

Despite the late night, Biel looks the epitome of glamour as she discusses the film, her features even more striking and perfectly formed in the flesh. She is a lone female presence in the kind of film for which the phrase "testosterone filled" was invented.

"I actually quite enjoyed it," she says of appearing alongside Jackson, Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and District 9 star Sharlto Copley. "I really like action movies. I like being a part of them. I don't feel like I have any insecurity about being on set with lots of men. Everyone is really a lot of fun and they made me feel very comfortable."

The camaraderie between the group is clearly evident as they laugh and joke their way through the proceedings. "That's the thing I'm most proud of -- the relationship we show on-screen," Neeson, who plays the team's leader Hannibal, declares.

While the group's comedy chops are on display today, it is Biel who delivers the film's best line, dryly stating that "they are trying to fly the tank" to one of her colleagues as all hell breaks loose during one of the film's many outlandish action scenes.

These computer-enhanced action sequences may be the highlight of the film, but shooting them presented certain challenges to Biel.

"The hardest thing to do when you're doing a film like this is to imagine all these incredible things happening before your eyes when all you really have in front of you in a piece of green tape and a tennis ball. You have to be able to make believe. That's what we do, and get paid for it. It's kind of fantastic."

As fantastic as her profession may be, the girl from Colorado still makes most headlines for her relationship with Timberlake, which began in 2007 not long after he spit from Cameron Diaz, and they are subject to seemingly never-ending stories about whether their relationship is "on-again" or "off-again".

"It's definitely been weird," she said last year. "But you have to have a sense of humour about the whole thing. Honestly, I look at a magazine and they know more than I do. You do really have to just get into a place where you feel Zen about it -- take a deep breath and know that somebody is going to be taking your picture while you're going to the laundry and picking up your dry cleaning."

She may have to grin and bear it for quite some time. The A-Team may not win Biel an award, but its popularity will no doubt ensure that she remains firmly seated on Hollywood's A-List throne.

The A-Team is in cinemas nationwide

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