In the new threequel Little Fockers, Ben Stiller has more than Robert De Niro to deal with as a hyper-bubbly, hyper-attractive pharmaceutical rep named Andi Garcia (yes, much like the actor, but a girl) enters his life.
The newest character in the “Focker” franchise, Andi is played by the unbearably sexy Jessica Alba, who has thrilled us in Sin City, “Dark Angel”, and the “Fantastic Four” movies, and now reveals a new, ridiculous side of herself in this movie.
Alba proved she is quite the clown off-screen as well during a press junket in New York where she discussed being intimidated by her famous co-stars, the importance of screenwriters, and improv-ing with a fake dolphin.
ComingSoon.net: Your character is so bubbly and happy in her scenes. Did you look forward to that or was it kind of a drag pretending to be so excited about life?
Jessica Alba: I was taking meth and speed and cocaine and snorting Red Bulls. (laughs) No, I’m kidding. No I’m not. Yes I am. No, it was great ’cause no matter what mood I was in she was so enthusiastic and excited that it was nice. It turned every day into a fun, silly day. I was kind of the joker, so I made people laugh. If I could just make people giggle that was very fun and satisfying.
CS: Have you taken any Spanish classes?
Alba: I’ve taken a few, unsuccessfully, unfortunately. My Spanish is about the level of a one-year-old. My daughter’s quite good at it, she’s two-and-a-half.
CS: How did you get in such great shape for the role?
Alba: I didn’t actually lose all my baby weight until a year-and-a-half after I had her, which was about the time I was shooting this. I have to attribute stress and work to the last twenty pounds, which was tough to get off. I lost the first chunk of it in three months, working out heavily and dieting. Then I just worked, running after her. It took a year-and-a-half.
CS: Being Latino, are you going to create roles that have a more positive image of Latinos?
Alba: I try to go after just fun characters. Whether it’s someone who ends up being a positive role model or not. That’s just a bonus if you’re playing somebody like that. At the end of the day it’s more about being fulfilled creatively and working with great filmmakers on great material and a character who is challenging. Whether it’s “The Killer Inside Me” with Michael Winterbottom, or “Little Fockers” with Paul Weitz. I grew as an actor and certainly it was a challenge, both roles.
CS: As a married woman, what did you think of the way Ben Stiller’s character interacted with you? Do you think he crossed a line?
Alba: Not at all. I don’t think my character was trying to maliciously do anything. That’s what made it so great, she was just having fun and in-the-moment and wasn’t really trying to screw anything up. She was just a big fan and loves her job so much. She has no filter and really no boundaries. She’s completely unedited and not self-aware so much. She’s just a ball of fun. It was fun playing somebody like that. It was very liberating, ’cause I might be a little bit of a control freak in real life, maybe.
CS: How comfortable were you on set being the newcomer, especially on a film with people who had worked together for a number of years?
Alba: Oh good lord. It’s not like they had fruitful careers prior to this movie either, huh? (laughs) It’s certainly a pretty intimidating group of actors, icons, my heroes. An incredible franchise, and they do all know each other, and they’ve known each other for so long. It’s almost so scary and intimidating that you just have to let it go and have fun. That’s exactly what I did. What do I have to lose? I’ll get fired? I just hope I didn’t get fired. (laughs)
CS: What kind of guidance did Paul give you in terms of character, specifically when you got to Ben Stiller?
Alba: Paul was really great ’cause I would go off the deep-end so much ’cause I did really have fun and was really a clown and would go all the way. I’m inspired by Lucille Ball, Peter Sellers, the National Lampoon movies in the ’80s, John Hughes movies. I love that stuff, I love slapstick. I would go way over there. He would always make sure I stayed grounded, we would always do a more grounded take once I went off the deep-end. Who knows what made it into the movie ’cause I have yet to see it, but it was fun!
CS: Could you clarify some of the comments you made about screenwriters in the press?
Alba: It’s not true. So it’s clear, films don’t get made, and nothing ever gets the greenlight, unless there’s great material. That goes without saying. That’s always the #1 thing before you can get a director, actors, even the studio interested in something. There was an article written recently where I was paraphrased and things were taken out of context and mushed together and it simply wasn’t true. It was a four-hour interview that got condensed into a page-and-a-half for a fashion magazine. That’s just not true, and I have the utmost respect for screenwriters. Even when I did my first job where I was talking to dolphins in “The New Adventures of Flipper,” I was 13. It was a fake dolphin, we had a great relationship. (laughs) When the dolphin would go off-script I didn’t know how to. He would squeak, I couldn’t squeak back. It took me 15 years to do that, and lots of therapy. I didn’t have the courage and didn’t know how to bring my own thing to the table. I would never veer off the script ever, no matter what. Even when actors would go off-book I didn’t know what to say. In this, it’s encouraged. Once you got it and say exactly what’s in the script, then it’s like, “Okay, we got it, now let’s do something else, something crazy.” That’s what it was, it was amazing. You have to think on your feet. I have so much respect for people who do stand-up comedy, live theater, any sort of live performance. It’s hard, and it’s hard when you’re on the spot and you have that back-and-forth. I had Ben Stiller throwing zingers at me, I gotta throw them back! I just tried not to disappoint him, ’cause he was kind of the boss as well.
CS: Did you use a stunt double for the scene when you fall into the pool?
Alba: All me. I channeled my “Dark Angel” days. I knew that was gonna come in handy in my underwear in a mud pit.
CS: What do you find more challenging, dramatic or comedic roles?
Alba: There’s definitely vulnerability when you’re doing drama, for sure. You never know what’s going to happen next and you’re really open. It’s the same in comedy, actually. The thing about drama is you can indulge in the drama of the moment. No one’s going to criticize you, “Oh that sad emotion wasn’t right.” No one’s going to say that, but if you’re not funny that’s terrible. You know that right away. People either have that visceral reaction or they don’t. Then you’re exposed and you’re open and you’ve failed. Comedy might be more difficult for me, but it’s fun when it works.
Little Fockers opens in theaters on Wednesday, December 22.