Jessica Biel tells Michele Manelis The Sinner has given her the producing bug.
The woman you play in The Sinner certainly has some anger issues, to put it mildly. What attracted you to this project?
I read the book and found it really compelling. She is so complicated and she is a person who is not the life of the party. It was an isolating experience but I was very proud of it, which I can't say about everything I've worked on.
You're producing The Sinner also — how difficult was it while raising a 2-year-old?
It was pretty hard. It's a very good reminder of how when mum goes to work, it can really affect the whole family. And even though it was really challenging, I was so pleased I did it. I loved the responsibility of producing. It was an empowering experience. It definitely gave me the itch to want to do it again.
It was definitely not without its trials and tribulations for me and for my family. It was exhausting. It was hard to leave my son for so many hours of the day, day after day after day. It was harder than I thought it was going to be.
How was Justin [Timberlake] at holding the fort while you were working?
He loved it. And I love watching him with Silas. It's pure love. It's stripped down and raw. It's watching a human being at their best when they are handling a little baby.
How does he feel about this project?
Justin loves it. Every time I talk to him, he just says, "I am so excited for you to jump into this. I am here for you." He's very supportive.
Everyone's talking about the Harvey Weinstein scandal — but women are subjected to sexual harassment in all fields of work — it's not just Hollywood, would you agree?
Right. You definitely don't have to be an actress. I have experienced that type of behaviour earlier on in my career and I think everybody in any business has historically had some experience with that. I just hope that this begins a seismic shift in how people are doing business in every industry, and in every office. And also, on the other side, the people who do know about something should know not to keep quiet. We all need to feel confident to speak up and protect ourselves and protect people we know or care about. Hopefully this can turn into something wonderful for our future.
I know you've been to New Zealand a few times. What do you remember most?
The first time was with my parents. We drank wine, played golf, flew in a helicopter over the North Island. We also drove all over the South Island. It was the greatest, most wonderful trip. The second time I was there I was pregnant and I definitely ate the icecream.
Speaking of icecream, how is your [kid-friendly] restaurant, Au Fudge, going?
Great. But the restaurant business is really hard. Everyone told me, "Don't do it! You are crazy!" And I said, "You are right. I'm going to do it!" It's been so much fun, and it fills this niche for families where you can go and feel comfortable that your kid is running around like a maniac and having fun in a creative space while you, as a parent, can eat and enjoy yourself. I hear from mums and dads all the time, saying, "I wish this had been around for my first kid. When is the next location opening?" That makes it all feel worth it.
When you're at home, who's in the kitchen?
I do a little bit of the cooking at home but I have to say, I am not necessarily the best. I never really felt completely comfortable in the kitchen and I am not one of those people that goes into the fridge and just pulls a bunch of things and throws them in the pan. I am good at quiches, chicken noodle soup, and purees. I can do really simple pizzas and random things like tortillas. But I warn people, "Don't get too excited."
You have a family, you're producing, acting, running a restaurant — how do you relieve stress?
I don't have as much time as I used to, to exercise, but I spend a lot of time running after my little guy. I pick him up all the time, so I feel like I am doing a lot of exercise during the day. But when I can, I love to work out and I really love yoga, swimming, hiking; anything to get out in the world I think is really the best medicine.