Jessica Biel Interview: ‘The Sinner’
“If anyone tells you that they’re not sitting with anticipation waiting, they’re lying,” says Jessica Biel about Emmy nominations morning, when she found out she earned a bid for Best Movie/Mini Actress for “The Sinner.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Biel above.
It was actually Emmy nominations afternoon for Biel. She was in Europe at the time, “so at this point it was 5:00 p.m. I had all day to just wait and wait to see, was this going to happen?” She was in the car with her son when she got the news, dealing with an iPad emergency, and “when your kid’s iPad malfunctions it’s like the world is crumbling,” so she wasn’t able to properly absorb the good news until later that night when she had “a fabulous glass of champagne.”
Biel is nominated for her role as Cora Tannetti, a wife and mother leading a seemingly normal life in upstate New York until out of nowhere she murders a man in cold blood. The rest of the eight-episode series is about untangling the secrets of her past that led her to commit the crime. Biel has been working in the industry for decades, going back to her breakthrough role on “7th Heaven” as a teenager, but this is her first Emmy nomination.
And it’s even sweeter since “it’s connected to this project that I’ve been a part of from the very beginning” as an executive producer, from reading the source novel by Petra Hammesfahr, to hiring writer Derek Simonds to adapt it for TV, to working with the USA Network to bring it to life. “Now in our business you have to take your career in your own hands,” she explains about her ambitions as a producer. “You have to step forward and grab your career by the horns and say, alright, this is what we’re doing, and I’m going to find something that inspires me, and I’m going to fight for it … I will never stop fighting and driving for my own career.”
Biel is still an executive producer for season two of “The Sinner,” which is currently airing and features Detective Ambrose (Bill Pullman) investigating a new mystery with a new set of characters. She’s still actively involved in the production, but she’s not on set every day since Cora isn’t a part of the new storyline. It’s difficult to be “a little bit more removed … especially from a project like this that’s just so close to my heart.” But that’s another important lesson she has learned as a producer: “You hire the people that know what they’re doing, and you let them do it.”