Killing it

Why Jes­sica Biel’s lat­est role in The Sin­ner is a ca­reer game changer

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE - writes MICHELE MANELIS

FROM in­génue to Hollywood pro­ducer, Jes­sica Biel’s ca­reer has grown more slowly than most.

First hit­ting the small screen at the age of 14 in fam­ily drama 7th Heaven, to more re­cently tak­ing time out to nur­ture her young son with ac­tor and pop star Justin Tim­ber­lake, Biel has been sat­is­fied with see­ing her star rise ex­po­nen­tially.

“When you’re young you don’t know what you’re do­ing, you don’t know what you want, or what the goal is. It takes a while to re­ally stand on your own two feet in your ca­reer and go, ‘OK, this is where it was be­fore and this is where it is now. Where do I want it to go?’,” she tells TV Guide.

Now, at 35, she has taken con­trol: as the star and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of new Net­flix thriller The Sin­ner, play­ing a wife and mother whose un­con­trol­lable rage leads her to com­mit an out­ra­geous, ut­terly un­pro­voked act of pub­lic vi­o­lence.

Based on the Pe­tra Hammes­fahr novel, Biels says sign­ing on for the project was “a no-brainer”.

“I hadn’t worked in a long time be­cause of my two-yearold son [Si­las], and as soon as I read it, I felt ready to go back to work. It in­spired me to the ex­tent that I was will­ing to take the time away from my fam­ily to do it … the train got on the tracks, out of the sta­tion, and off it went.”

It’s a dra­matic change of pace from the ac­tor’s ear­lier roles, which cap­i­talised on her girl-next-door ap­peal in Ac­ci­den­tal Love and A Kind of Mur­der.

“I love that my char­ac­ter is very com­pli­cated and very lay­ered. I am in­ter­ested in peel­ing away those lay­ers and get­ting to the bot­tom of her story, looking at how she be­came this young woman who does what she does, be­haves the way that she does, even af­ter she ad­mits this crime,” she says.

“What in­ter­ests me about this woman is that we’re all ca­pa­ble of cer­tain acts and we’ve all thought about do­ing some­thing vi­o­lent and crazy, but we don’t. I like ex­plor­ing the idea of what is it [about] some­one [that causes them to act] on those im­pulses.”

Ask Biel what it takes to get her an­gry and she laughs.

“This might sound re­ally ter­ri­ble, but it’s the truth. Hav­ing a child, I have never ex­pe­ri­enced more emo­tions in all my life, anger be­ing one of them. Sim­ply put, some­times your two-year-old makes you crazy.”

Jug­gling ca­reer and moth­er­hood has its chal­lenges, she ad­mits, with the cou­ple re­cently mov­ing their fam­ily to New York.

“There are peo­ple ev­ery­where and cool things to look at. My kid loves it. He’s par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about the trucks that pass by ev­ery two sec­onds. We don’t have to do much to en­ter­tain him. We sit on the cor­ner and watch ev­ery­thing go by. It’s a great af­ter­noon.”

For Biel, who has of­ten been dis­missed as “just an­other pretty face”, The Sin­ner has af­forded her the best re­views of her ca­reer.

“I’m so pleased,” she smiles, nod­ding. “Hon­estly, there have been so many times in my ca­reer that I can say, ‘I don’t feel ter­ri­bly proud about this thing’, or ‘I didn’t re­ally like the project’.

“But with this par­tic­u­lar one, it’s so nice to do some­thing that you’re gen­uinely proud of.”

THE SIN­NER

STREAM­ING NOW ON NET­FLIX

Above, Jes­sica Biel plays mur­der ac­cused Cora Tan­netti along­side Bill Pull­man in the Net­flix drama TheSin­ner; left, Biel with her ac­tor and singer hus­band Justin Tim­ber­lake.

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