If you ask her, Jessica Alba will say that she can’t work
a fax machine for her life, but she can bust a move. Director
Billie Woodruff’s new film “Honey” surely proves
this. Centered on the hip-hop world in New York City, Alba stars as
Honey Daniels, a struggling choreographer who learns what’s
really important in life, just as soon as she gets her big
break.

Mira Levitan
Dance, Angel. Dance. (Courtesy of Universal)

At the young age of 22, Alba’s only noteworthy lead role
has been in the cancelled series “Dark Angel.” Now with
an entire film resting on her petite shoulders, she’s
thankful for her experience. “‘Dark Angel’
certainly prepared me for ‘Honey.’ That was a big
job,” Alba said recently during a promotional stop in
Birmingham. “Each episode was $2.3 million, which was a
bigger risk. (In ‘Honey’) there’s definitely
pressure in every scene. I’m worried that people will get
sick of me.”

Aside from the getting a chance to make her leading debut in a
major film, Alba decided to make “Honey” to show off
her dancing chops. “It was so much fun. I used to try and do
all the dance moves to Madonna and Paula Abdul when I was younger.
And finally I got to become a dancer.”

“Honey’s” choreographer, Laurie Ann Gibson,
also plays the character Katrina, Honey’s rival dancer.
Gibson prepared Alba for the film with ballet, jazz and hip-hop
classes. Although Alba did have a dance double, when it came down
to the final cut, only three seconds of the professional dancer was
used.

Besides the significance of the dancing, Alba also wanted
“Honey” to mean something, and the film’s initial
message didn’t accomplish that. “Originally (Honey)
rode a motorcycle [which is quickly becoming Alba’s
trademark], but that’s so cliché. Nobody in New York
City who’s struggling is riding a freakin’
motorcycle.” With motorcycle in tow, Honey wasn’t
intended to be a literal description of her sweet name.
“First it was about a real tough girl — wilin’
out. But how can anyone have empathy for this girl when she’s
beating people up? You can’t connect with that. What is that
energy?”

Not only did Alba have trouble identifying with Honey’s
original character, but also with the notion of nudity, which has
been her biggest pressure. “I’ve had directors that
have wanted me to get naked. They always want to throw in a sex
scene.” For a girl who has graced covers of various magazines
in racy outfits and has topped Maxim’s hottest babe list
several times, one would think she would be comfortable in her own
skin. But Alba is adamant about keeping her clothes on.

Even wearing booty shorts in one of “Honey’s”
many dance scenes, Alba was uncomfortable. “That freaked me
out. I told Billie, I don’t know if I can do this. The shorts
are so short and my whole stomach is showing … I was on
stage and there were all these cameras in my face. And all of a
sudden there were way more crew members — like the drivers. I
didn’t want to leave my trailer.” So Woodruff,
sensitive to Alba’s fears, like any professional gave her an
Incredible Hulk (a drink with Courvoisier) to ease the tension.

Despite the character changes Alba made to the originally vapid
script, “Honey” should be taken at face value. “I
want you to be entertained. That’s all it’s really
about. So tell all your friends to go see it because if this
doesn’t do well, I don’t know if I’ll be in
another movie!”

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