Jessica Alba took a surprisingly Method-style acting approach to her role in the upcoming Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Her character, the exotic dancer Nancy Callahan, was a damsel in distress in the original 2005 installment, but for the new film, she moves straight past femme fatale mode, and right into “killer babe” territory for the stylish noir sequel (in theaters Aug. 22). “Nancy was so sweet, and she was sort of a victim in the first one, in this one people will be pleasantly surprised to see her turn into a warrior,” Alba said today at the film’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, where she was joined by co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and co-stars Josh Brolin and Rosario Dawson.
The actress took this character development so seriously, it intimidated her directors on set. “She up showed so in her character, we thought she hated us,” Rodriguez said.
“I went over to say ‘Hi’, to her and she barely said hello to me because she was already in character ready to do a scene,” explained Miller, the iconic comic book writer/artist whose neo-noir series the movies are based on. “My first thought when I said ‘Hello’ to Jessica was, ‘I haven’t seen her in eight years, how did I piss her off?’”
Alba’s directors showered her with praise routinely throughout the panel. “You became a completely different person when you showed up,” Rodriguez said. “You were someone else… [Sin City star] Mickey Rourke gave you props, and Mickey Rourke never gives props.”
“Gosh,” Alba beamed, to which Rodriguez replied: “ She was not smiling when she showed up on set.”
"I just really kind of connected with the dark side of Nancy, and it was hard to detach from that until the movie was over,” Alba said. “The whole time I was in Austin [Texas, where they shot the film] I stayed connected to that spirit.” There was a bit of a role reversal between the performer and her directors this time around as well. “I was a lot more sure,” she said. “In the first one, I was in my early twenties and I was just trying to figure it out. I was so intimidated just being in your world…. The second time I felt like a woman comfortable in my own skin, and I wanted to kick ass.”
It didn’t stop Rodriguez and company from trying to lighten the mood around her. “We made jokes, you wouldn’t laugh,” he said. “Nothing helped.”
Photo: Associated Press