Screenwriter John August responds to Jessica Alba's 'good actors never use the script' comment

John-August-Jessica-AlbaImage Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/; Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty ImagesGood actors never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say.” — Jessica Alba, to Film Comment Elle Magazine.

Let those words sink in. Click on Dame Alba’s IMDb resume, and let them sink in some more. I will now yield the floor to the august screenwriter John August (Big Fish), who responds on his blog:

“I have to believe she was misquoted, or excerpted in some unflattering way … Oh, Jessica. Where to start? … Following your logic, you’ve never been in a movie with both good actors and amazing writing. That may be true, but it might hurt the feelings of David Wain, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. … Screenwriters can be your best friends. We are pushovers for attractive people who pay attention to us. I wrote that bathtub scene in Big Fish because Jessica Lange made brief eye contact with me. So if you’re not getting great writing — and honestly, you’re not — ask to have lunch with the screenwriter. I’ve seen you on interviews. You’re charming. That charm could work wonders.”

Pardon the long excerpt, but I wanted to get the words juuuust right. What was Alba thinking, and is it possible for her to clarify her remarks to prevent her future characters from plummeting to their deaths down open elevator shafts?


Comments (182 total) Add your comment
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  • paige

    what does Alba know about good acting? she couldnt act her way out of a paper bag. and those pics are crap

    • Mr. Holloway

      EXACTLY what I was thinking:

      How would Jessica Alba had any idea about what good actors do?

      • Mr. Holloway

        Although her quote says “…all the good actors I’ve worked with…”

        I’ll leave the door slightly open for the possibility that she wasn’t referring to herself as a “good actor” (still unintentionally funny) and was only talking about what other people do.

        Nah, this is still an idiotic thing to say, assuming she wasn’t taken out of context.

      • Liz

        I at first thought it was a comment on how a real professional would come in, knowing the script and film the scene without repeatedly checking lines. Then I read the second hald and now I’m confused.

      • KS

        It’s kind of John August to allow room for the possibility that she may have had her quote taken out of context… regardless of whether she really meant it or not, I bet she’s feeling pretty ashamed/stupid/embarrassed right now.

      • Brianna

        She is talking like a vain loser! Thank goodness there are screenwriters. In my opinion, the script is the most important part of the movie. Screenwriters are the ones that I trust on doing a entertaining script, I don’t think it’s a good idea if actors say what they want to say.

      • amazing scripts

        I can see that she is not a fan of screenwriting, her movie scripts are never fantastic…probably because she is saying what she wants to say.

      • smart

        I know that Woody Allen told the actor Larry David, if you are unconfortable with any material on the script, you can change it—but Larry David did everything that was on the script anyway. Larry David said on a amazon interview: I wasn’t inclined to rewrite Woody Allen. Now Larry is smart, Jessica you need to get smart.

      • Mike

        I thought he had a point. She HAS never been in a movie with both good actors and a great script. It’s kind to say she’s been in either really. Certainly either where anyone is actually trying (Robert De Niro in Machete does not count).

      • haha

        These celebrities are so amusing these days, they are such media whores! Jessica Alba, Kid Rock and others crack me up! They have the nerve to insult Screenwriters and American Idol, but wait…… Jessica bigger than Screenwriters? Is Kid Rock bigger than American Idol? I think they forgot about that question before they ran their mouths!

      • Casey

        I was going to say the same thing. Girl can NOT act, so how would she know? She wouldn’t know a good script if it whacked her across the face.

      • that’s lame

        Jessica Alba, please tell us your friend actors who have your bad attitude so that I know what movies NOT to see. Actors are payed to act. If any of them have the same thinking as Jessica then they need to write their own scripts and try to get paid to be a screenwriter.

      • Start Writing

        I don’t think actors should change a script that they didn’t write, that is the movie studios job to do that if they want to hire more screenwriters to work on the script. But I will say to Jessica–if you really feel the way you do–then why don’t you write your own scripts? Many Actors write movie scripts–Adam Sandler, Ben Affleck, Emma Thompson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Woody Allen. If Jessica wants that kind of freedom she needs to be a screenwriter THAT GETS HIRED BY A MOVIE STUDIO.

      • Nebakeroneus

        You know, great actors! Like Dane Cook and That Blonde Weave from Fantastic Four. By the way I heard the The Blonde Weave was caught on tape snarking about Alba’s dandruff.

    • Julius

      Love this comment. She’s goooooooooorgeous, but (like 99.8% of gooooooooooorgeous Hollywood gals) her acting makes. me. cringe.

      • Brett

        There wasn’t a better writer than John August to respond to this? His scripts haven’t exactly been collecting awards….

    • strickens_girl

      Exactly. It really doesn’t matter what she says because she’s just there to be pretty. That girl couldn’t act to save her life.

    • RO

      This is Jessica’s resume and from the looks of it, she doesn’t know what Good Writing is. THIS IS COMICAL: Never Been Kissed, Idle Hands, Paranoid, The Sleeping Dictionary, Honey, Sin City, Not so Fantastic 4 Part 1 & 2, Into the Blue, The Ten, Good Luck Chuck, ((((STOP ME WHEN I MENTION A GREAT MOVIE WITH GOOD ACTORS AND GREAT WRITING)))) Meet Bill, Awake, The Eye, The Love Guru, An Invisible Sign, The Killer Inside Me, Valentine’s Day, Machete, Little Fockers, Spy Kids 4, LMAO!!!!! PERFECT EXAMPLE OF A CLUELESS HOT CHICK THAT CLEARLY BELIEVES EVERYONE’S HYPE ABOUT HER BUT WOULDN’T KNOW A “GREATLY WRITTEN SCRIPT” TO SAVE HER LIFE.

      • AT

        Sin City

      • Hunter

        The Love Guru

      • Doris

        I agree on Sin City–what can you say about a movie with Clive Owen?

      • Christy

        While I disagree with her comment, I would note that Blythe Danner and Robert DeNiro are in the Little Fockers. I think that they both fall in the great actors category, though perhaps not in these particular roles.

      • Wottadoosh

        Into the blue – she looks awesome in that bikini. Of course, I haven’t actually seen the film, but I Googled the images!

      • Raven_Moon

        Jessica Alba strikes me as a bit of a dimwit. Despite that, I still love me some “Dark Angel.” Anyway, I have to disagree with you a little bit. I actually rather enjoy “Never Been Kissed.” I think Drew Barrymore & James Franco are pretty great. Also, “Sin City” is a fantastic movie. Clive Owen, Bruce Willis & Mickey Rourke were all good in it.

      • Brett

        RO – “Killer Inside Me” was a great film and got excellent reviews. Sure, not for Alba’s performance, but still….

    • mills

      She’s probably just unable to actually memorize a script.

    • Rush

      I honestly can’t remember a movie I watched with her in it where I cared about what came out of her mouth.

    • john

      i suppose you could do better, i dont think so, you could not fight your way out of a wet paperbag


    • Obvious Man Says

      good point, but wtf does john august know about good screenplays? he’s written big fish, charlie and the chocolate facotry and frankenweenie….is he blowing tim burton too?

      ps – all his movies suck a$$

  • DawninDenver

    Haha this reminded me of when Joey said that on Friends and got killed off days of our lives by the writers

    • Loto

      I think that was the point of hte reference at the end, or at least I hope it was on an entertainment blog.

      • Ethan

        I had to check my pop-culture long term memory, but I think Diana Muldaur on LA Law was written out of her series by falling down an open elevator shaft.

      • Kate

        The reference at the end of this blog entry is definitely to Joey Tribiani who said that he wrote a lot of his own lines on Days of Our Lives and then the writer retaliated and threw his character down an elevator shaft.
        Its also the very first thing I thought of when I read the quote. That Friends episode should have taught all actors a valuable lesson but who knows, maybe Jessica Alba isn’t a Friends fan.

      • Christy

        No, the reference is definitely to the famous LA Law death by elevator shaft where the lawyer died shockingly and unexpectedly when she accidentally stepped into an elevator shaft.

      • David

        Yes, Diana Muldaur’s character suffered death by elevator shaft, but that’s not the reference. It’s Joey Tribbiani, for the reasons Kate gives: his character was killed off DOOL because he had dissed the writers on the show.

      • Christy

        The Friends scene was nearly identical to the LA Law scene. It was designed to be somewhat of an homage to the LA Law scene because it was DOOL’s writers saying that Joey’s character, Drake Romero, was killed in the most shocking way ever done on TV and never coming back again.

      • D’s Advocate

        Christy is secretly Diana Muldaur.

      • moviemenace

        I remember channel-surfing when I was a kid and landing on LA Law. When that chick fell down the elevator shaft, I was totally hooked. It blew my mind. It’s the only time I watched a full episode of that show.

      • amie

        Interestingly, Mark Twain once became so exasperated with the characters in the novel he was writing that he started having them fall down the town well. Eventually, he had to start over when he ran out of people.

      • Brett

        Since Alba only appears in films, and screenwriters have next to zero clout once the moviemaking is underway (unless they’re also the director), the chances of any of her characters meeting a demise because of a screenwriter’s vendetta are about zero.

    • Templar

      It reminded me of the scene in Singin’ In The Rain when Gene Kelly asks ” Can’t we just say what we always say?”.

      • Kate

        “I love you, I love you, I love you….”

      • E

        Yes! Exactly!

    • tracy bluth

      That’s exactly what I thought of!

    • lettergirl

      ha! me too!! she is such a ding bat. she is always the worst one in movies with ‘real’ actors. just stand there and look pretty, honey. no, we don’t need you to talk, just stand there!! good!

      • Brett

        Now, now – you’re forgetting “Good Luck Chuck.” No one’s worse than Dane Cook.

    • Babs

      Amen!!! That’s exactly what I was going to say.

  • JLC

    Since she acts primarily in Robert Rodriguez movies, maybe she’s just saying what she knows. I have a hard time believing anyone wrote most of the lines she’s spoken.

    • Fred

      She’s done two Rodriguez movies. She did as many Fantastic Four movies.

      • Brett

        She’s working on a third: “Spy Kids 4.”

  • Sara

    This is actually quite hilarious coming from her.

  • Sharon

    Makes you wonder what she would do if she were ever cast in a Shakespearean play – not that there is much danger of that happening.

    • Jackie

      Hey, Keanu Reeves was cast in the film adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing”, so don’t rule out any possibilities.

      • Flyer

        You know, I actually LIKED Keanu Reeves as Don John in “Much Ado About Nothing.”

      • LoliRyder

        Thank you Flyer. I agree.

      • tracy bluth

        Let’s face it, Keanu Reeves is even a better actor than Jessica Alba. But then again, who (besides Megan Fox) isn’t?

      • Mr. Holloway

        Speaking of Fox, I used to think that the main difference between Alba and Fox is that Alba was smart enough to just accept the work she was getting and not sabotage her own career by making ridiculous statements.

        Not anymore.

      • jules

        Oh, man, Keanu was AWFUL in that!! “I’m playing the bad guy so I’m gonna frown REAL BIG!!” I chuckled every time they showed him scowling. He has gotten better over the years, though.
        Jessica has gotten worse.

      • Mr. Holloway


        I haven’t seen it, but from what you’re talking about, that sounds FANTASTIC!

        At least when Keanu’s bad, he’s entertainingly bad. Alba’s nice to look at, but she’s no fun to watch.

      • teekay

        Whenever I saw Keanu in a period film, my first thought was that Ted got stuck back in time and tried to make the best of a bad situation…

      • m

        lol @ teekay. the thought of that made my day.

      • Brett

        Keanu’s acting has always been wooden. In movies like “Speed” and “the Matrix,” it’s been sort of a light balsa. But in “Much Ado,” it was heavy oak. Man, did he suck. (Oh, and Alba’s a much better actor than Keanu.)

    • LEW

      Slings and Arrows Season 1: Jack, doing the Closet scene in Hamlet.

      Hilarity ensues.

      • Izzy

        Yes! I thought of that exact thing.

      • KS

        LOVE Slings & Arrows.

      • noelbelle

        Freaky…I just saw that. It’s the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

  • TorontoTom

    Line her up to present Best Screenplay at the Oscars this year…

    • Mr. Holloway

      “Good actors never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say…the nominees for Best Original Screenplay, are…”

      • Miss Talk

        LOL…poor Jessica, she is “aqua caliente” with this one.
        I can already imagine the spoofs and references on SNL, South Park, Glee…Nobody messes with Hollywood writers, they’re like the Corleone family down there.

      • Mr. Holloway

        “down there”?

        Are you suggesting actors belong in the basement of Hollywood?! Watch your back…they’re coming after you next.

      • Miss Talk

        Hummm…maybe that’s because from where I live, L.A is southwards?

      • Mr. Holloway

        I figured it was something like that…just yanking your chain.

      • Satellite Awards

        hahaha!:):):) That would be amusing if they did have her present that category but then we find out that she says no because she is embarrassed about what she said!

  • cmzhang42

    Note to Jessica Alba: Remember, writers are your friends. If they don’t work, you sure as hell won’t work.

    • D’s Advocate

      Well…it’s not like she’s cast for her ability to read dialogue well. Her “best work” tends to be print ads or wordless scenes.

      • TQB

        Or her cleavage.

    • Brett

      Strangely, that’s so untrue. No writers have been involved in any of the photoshoots she’s done. If she were to switch to modeling full time, problem solved.

  • tracy bluth

    This is my new favorite quote!

  • D’s Advocate

    She’s perhaps confusing “actor” with “movie star”.

  • The Jackal

    So based on that comment, Alba has never been able to say whatever she wants to say.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Probably for the best: look at what happens when she says whatever she wants to say.

  • Erika

    Has she asked any good actors (you know ones with those statue thingies) about this? Seriously, when she gets noticed for her acting and just what she’s wearing then maybe she can talk on this subject. So guessing that will be ummmm never.

    • Brett

      She clearly is chewing on a goodly portion of “toe salad” right about now. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was trying to say that good actors go off script, and/or improvise, and/or are involved in “in production” rewrites. I know there are writers out there who take it as a mortal, or at least venial sin, to alter even a syllable of their precious scripts, but those who have toiled in Hollywood long enough know that a script serves as a springboard for the production of a film. Even if you’re adapting Shakespeare, decisions invariably get made about scenes or lines to cut. I’m sure quite a bit of memorable dialogue from movies over the years was improvised. I’m hoping that’s what she was trying to convey, anyway.

  • sara

    so, in Madame Alba’s mind, “good” actors doon’t bother learning the words they are being paid to say, and instead just say whatever they want to say?? Ummm, okaaaaaaay….

  • Krystal

    I am not a fan of her at all. She seems too self satisfied for her “brilliant” work.

  • Flyer

    The only actors I know who get to make up what they say are the excellent improv artists in the Christopher Guest movies. And even then, Guest and Eugene Levy write the basic story line and decide what material actually makes it into the movies. Alba would be qualified to set up actors’ chairs on Guest films, though.

    • Flyer

      Actually I was thinking that she WOULDN’T even be qualified to set up actors’ chairs. But hey, if she DID get that job setting up chairs on a Guest film, maybe she could actually learn something about professionalism.

      • Mr. Holloway

        I have a feeling she’d botch that job too. Instead of getting a “director’s chair” type of deal or something with a cushion, she’d probably show up with those hard, metal foldout chairs or find some other way to suck at that job as much as she sucks at acting.

      • Fred

        There’s a HILARIOUS extra on “Dogma” that shows how badly Matt Damon and Ben Affleck do when Smith allows them (after they begged) to improv.

      • tracy bluth

        @Fred that sounds awesome- I’m going to look for it on my copy of Dogma right now!

  • Katja

    Without having read the Elle rticle and seen the quote in context…my first thought was that it was a joke or a tongue-in-cheek comment instead of a real attempt at Acting Wisdom. I so don’t care enough to research this any further and read the actual article, but I did enjoy the Friends reference. :)

    • Big Walt

      His reply was soo perfect. Not overly defensive or insulting. He’s clearly a good writer.

      • Brett

        Oh, yes. He wrote the script for “Frankenweenie.”

      • Big Walt

        Was Frankenweenie poorly written? I’ve never read the script.

    • Allison

      I’ve read other articles about her trying to fight the problem of being taken seriously as a beautiful woman… but there seem to be quite a few beautiful people who are also respected as pretty spectacular actors.

      • Big Walt

        Name the last “ugly” actress to win Best Actress. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. I looked it up. I’d say Frances McDormand in 1996. Ugly’s a little strong but she’s definitely not in the same category as the others since then (Helen Mirren’s in there but she’s just older, she used to be hot).

      • Mr. Holloway

        Helen Mirren “used to hot”?

        How dare you?!

      • Mr. Holloway

        “used to be* hot”

      • jezoebel

        Used to be hot? Have you seen RED?

    • Bren

      I’m not really a fan of hers, but a part of me wants to know the context of the comment, too. If she’s talking about Mike Myers or Ben Stiller or someone she’s worked with on a comedy, then I wouldn’t judge her as harshly. I’m sure those guys probably do ad-lib a lot. Lately, I’ve just seen too many “quotes” and things get blown out of proportion just to get attention for a magazine (ie GQ Glee pics) that I’m not jumping at this one. And if she really did mean it as it sounds…meh, big deal. I didn’t really like her movies anyway.

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