While some of her contemporaries cycle in and out of rehab, or simply turn down everything that comes their way (I’m looking in your general direction, Rachel McAdams), the Jacinda Barretts and Jessica Biels of young
are busy making a play for their heat. Hollywood
Biel is particularly intriguing as a candidate for newly minted star, if only because probably no one saw her coming. This week she’s starring in the big-budget if somewhat bland Next, with Nicolas Cage, and she’s also got the safety net of Dennis Dugan’s big dumb gay firefighters comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. In between she’s been trying to shore up her dramatic cred, with movies like The Illusionist (an important booking for her) and Bruce Beresford’s set-to-lens adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance, whose lead
is taking over from Linsday Lohan. Biel
The femininity is there, but what
seemingly lacks is a certain softness, and relaxed charisma. Next doesn’t necessarily require it, save for a single scene with some Native American children, but if Biel is to make inroads to the sort of relatable leading lady parts that pay the truly big bucks (glossy romantic comedies and the like), she needs to dial down the energy a bit and vacuum herself free of the sort of cow-faced, sign-posted emoting that too much serial television work seems to engender in many young actors and actresses. Biel
If she can’t pull that off — and there’s not much to suggest one way or another whether she can — there is an alternative, and that’s to embrace the whole authoritative, beautiful-shit-kicker persona she projects.
is still running from this 7th Heaven-era photo shoot, no doubt, but would be wise to embrace hard-edged bombshell roles in a way that Ashley Judd did early in her career. Biel