Hollywood stars had to master many skills to prepare for their most demanding roles – from going through extensive training, to learning to play all sorts of different instruments. The same can be said about Jessica Alba, but is playing violin one of the skills she acquired over the years?
Starring in “The Eye”
Jessica Alba was at the peak of her fame when she scored the leading role in horror movie The Eye in 2008. This film was quite a departure from her previous projects, since her filmography by that point mostly included action flicks, such as Fantastic Four, Sin City and Into the Blue.
This film was a remake of the Hong Kong 2002 horror Gin gwai, and it told the story of a violinist who has been blind since childhood, and gained an insight into the supernatural world after receiving an eye transplant. Alba watched the original film after receiving the script, and she was quite impressed, but the new version had a different tone and more Eastern approach.
Alba’s performance wasn’t very well-received, and she even scored a Razzie nomination for her efforts, but that doesn’t change the fact she went all-in preparing for it. She went to blindness orientation centers, started reading Braille, and learned to walk with a cane – but that wasn’t even the most difficult part of this filming experience.
Learning to Play Violin
David Moreau and Xavier Palud, who directed The Eye, wanted to keep Alba in the frame whenever her character played the violin instead of using body doubles. That’s why she had to learn to play the instrument, and it was much more challenging than playing a blind woman.
“Violin was definitely more difficult. That was so tough for me because I wanted to come off as realistic and believable as possible in order for the audience to really take the journey with me in this movie,” Alba told Edge Media Network.
The actress took six months of violin lessons alongside three different teachers, and often practiced on the set Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, still in her Sue Storm outfit. She told The Ledger she’s never done “anything this hard” in her life, and struggled with everything from the positioning of the violin on her neck to bowing.
Before starting to take her lessons, Alba went through countless tapes of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. They’ve proven to be extremely helpful, and she picked up a lot of things while observing her posture, the way she held the instrument and positioned her head.
Still Not a Pro
Jessica Alba put a lot of time and effort into learning to play the violin to the best of her ability, but she’s not a pro. Even when she hit all the right notes, the actress felt that she sounded “like a cat in heat” and that her musical performance wasn’t extremely impressive.
“It didn’t sound good. I played the notes of the music and I kept up with rhythm. I did all that but I have to say it did not sound how the composer would have wanted it to,” Alba told NJ.com.
The actress jokingly told IndieLondon that her dogs probably suffered the most while she practiced playing violin, and revealed they used to cover their ears to avoid the noise.
She told RadioFree that she still has a violin at home after completing the movie, but that “Happy Birthday” is the least offensive thing she can play. Alba said that the violin sounded terrible when she played it and produced “screechy, high-pitched, terrible sound”, but that was fixed in post-production of The Eye, once the music was added.