‘Anesethetical Awareness’ occurs in 20,000-40,000 patients out of every 20 million US annual surgeries every year. This terrifying medical problem leaves patients completely conscious and feeling every incision made during surgery but, due to the anaesthesia, paralysed and incapable of doing anything about it.
This is the subject of the latest suspense thriller ‘Awake’, starring Hayden Christensen as Clay, a young businessman undergoing heart surgery. During the operation Clay experiences this terrifying and traumatic event. Unable to move but aware of everything go on around him, Clay learns about his best friend and his new wife, adding further trauma to an already horrendous situation.
The 26-year old American Jessica Alba plays the suspicious wife of Clay in ‘Awake’. Here, Alba sheds her sex kitten image from previous films such as ‘Sin City’, ‘Into the Blue’ and ‘Fantastic Four’, for a far more serious and unsettling role.
Q: This movie is also a big change for you.
A: “I know. I look normal. I’m not fighting anyone (laughs). I’m so happy that I don’t have to wear a bathing suit or a costume with chaps or a tight superhero outfit. It’s a film about anaesthetic awareness where a patient’s mind awakens during surgery but yet you can’t move your body. You can hear and feel the surgery but can’t move or cry. You’d rather die. It’s so horrible. The whole time you can’t say anything. You can’t talk. You can’t do anything. You just have to suffer through it until it wears off.”
Q: So what happens?
A: “Hayden Christensen’s character goes through this whole thing. We’ve been together for a year and when he gets a call that he got a heart, it’s available and he can have this heart transplant, he’s like, ‘I’m going to do something for myself. We’re going to get married.’ While he’s in surgery, he has flashbacks to their relationship and how it started and why it means so much. She’s the reason why he lives through this terrifying experience. But he’s been keeping our relationship a secret from his mother. So then the mother, in the waiting room with me, finds out that we got married and I’m her assistant and he’s a billionaire. So she doesn’t trust my character and thinks it’s weird. She has been coddling him his whole life and she doesn’t want to let go.”
Q: Was it a refreshing change to do some serious acting?
A: “I love telling stories. Unfortunately, I haven’t had as many opportunities to do the type of acting that I want to do and that I’m trained to do. I’ve been doing these commercial, action-driven comic book-type films. And in Sin City, I had a couple of really great scenes with Bruce Willis but all anyone talks about is the scene with the lasso and chaps. It’s visual, so I get it but it’s not why I did the movie. Acting for me is cathartic. It’s a safe place emotionally; I can explore people.”
Q: You often appear scantily clad in your movies but would you go as far as going nude?
A: “I think probably every movie that I have done they always try to get you naked because men are still making movies and they are the boss and they just believe that women should not be clothed. I never cared whether they wanted me naked or not; it isn’t anything I have ever done and it is nothing ever will do. But I am all for men being naked personally, the more the better.”
Q: How do you handle being described as a sex symbol?
A: “I never got asked out when I was young so it is so bizarre to me. No one ever asked me out on a date. I had to ask guys out so it is so weird that I am a type because I was really nobody’s type ever. It’s not always great to be objectified but I don’t feel I have much of a choice right now.“
Q: I hear you have plans to produce – is that about taking control of your career?
A: “Actors are just like putty and they can just mould us into doing whatever they want. I’ve always wanted the control. I wouldn’t call myself a control freak but I’m absolutely ambitious. It’s nice to call your own shots and not just be a piece of ass in a movie. But if I get to choose a writer and I get to choose the other actors and I get to choose who is going to produce it then I get a budget that isn’t going to spend on costumes and crap, and spend more money on cameras and cranes and interesting angles and cool editors and music; that can enhance a movie.”
Q: Who would be your ideal leading man? A: “My number one is probably Johnny Depp. George Clooney has that old school feel and I like Eric Bana. I appreciate talented creative people and I think that takes over whether someone is aesthetically pleasing or not. To me it is so much more about the whole package.”
Q: How do you keep yourself grounded?
A: “I am really close with my family and I am really close with my friends. I have had the same friends for a long time. I am not into being popular because I never was popular or cool. Certain people like to spin how I get jobs or why I am here but at the end of the day I have been sacrificing alot and working my tail off since I was 11. From 11 to 16 it was really hard and that is real. I did feel the pressure that if I didn’t get a job every two to three months, I couldn’t do this any more because my family couldn’t afford for me to do it. So I did modelling jobs on the weekends – I was in Macy’s newspaper ads and my grandma would cut them out!”
‘Awake’ is in Irish cinemas from Friday, April 4th.