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Jessica Biel   ('The Illusionist') Jessica Biel ('The Illusionist')

'Prepare To Be Amazed!'

When word of the famed Eisenheim's (Ed Norton) illusions reaches Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the ruler attends one of the magician's shows in order to debunk the performance. But when the prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel), assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods, and pretty soon they're totally hot for each other.

As the clandestine romance continues, the prince's best cop (Paul Giamatti) is charged with exposing Eisenheim, even while the magician gains a devoted and vocal public following. Before long, Sophie turns up dead, and the logical suspect is Eisenheim himself.

Sitting down recently in a CA hotel room along with the 'The Illusionist' star herself, Jessica Biel, I first asked the beautful actress if she had been more than happy to wear corsets and gowns for this new film - or had they hinder her along the way? "That was one of the major plusses for me. I'd never done anything like that and no one has ever thought I could do that. It's been frustrating to break out of a tough, kind of action image that I've had for a while, so that was the whole idea-to do something extraordinarily different, a totally character-driven, story-driven piece in a different time period, with costumes, and really getting to embody a different person," she admits.

How did you convince the film's producers that you were the right gal for the job? "I showed up at my last audition, which I did with Edward, in full costume. I figured this is my one opportunity and I gotta go all the way. They might laugh but they might love it. Their reaction was initial bemusement and shock,", she recalls laughing, "but Michael [London, producer] looked at me and said: 'Oh my God, now we have one outfit out of the way' and just put me at ease immediately. If he hadn't said that I think I might have botched my audition."

Based on a short story, The Illusionist is set in early 20th century Vienna, where a stage magician [Edward Norton] uses his magic to win back the great love of his life [Biel] from a brutal enemy, her fiancé, who also happens to be the powerful crowned prince of Austria. On their heels is an obsessive and pragmatic detective [Paul Giamatti]. Shot on location in Prague, Biel says that it was the first time working in Europe and took advantage of this most ancient of eastern European cities. "I loved it. It was just amazing with just so much history and the architecture was so beautiful. The people were cool and I sat at cafes drinking cappuccinos while reading Kafka," Biel admits.

What was the night life like there?! "'m not a huge party animal so I ended up just going and having great meals and drinking wine."

With the film focusing on magic and love, I'm wondering if you yourself believe in love at first sight? "I have not experienced that but I believe it has to be possible because that happened to my parents," she recalls.

Please tell us more about your upcoming role in the film 'Next' alongside both Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore "Nic plays this man who has precognitive abilities, who can see two minutes into his own future, and people around him. He gets involved with the FBI who is after him with Julianne as one of the FBI agents. They want to use him as kind of a guinea pig to try to get his power, his ability to mature so he can help them save LA in the light of a possible terrorist attack. I play a schoolteacher, who gets wrapped up in this crazy world because Nic keeps seeing the face of this person and whenever he does, he can see further into the future."

Finally, will your fans ever see you back on 7th Heaven?! "I think they've asked me to come back, but at this point I'm just interested in other things."

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