The Marvel Cinematic Universe desperately wants to revive The Fantastic Four, even if they clearly want to take their time to do it right. Previous incarnations of this Marvel property are still being analyzed, if not mocked, for never quite capturing what fans wanted. One of the cast members of the 2005 version (Jessica Alba) also had one of the worst experiences of her life while filming.
Talk about a cursed franchise, seemingly. Maybe the MCU will finally correct things. However, Alba’s story of her time on the set of the original feature is an important warning tale.
At the heart of her plight was a director who thought she was supposed to look “pretty” on camera.
Jessica Alba’s nightmare with director Tim Story
Anyone familiar with Tim Story will know him as a director, producer, and writer with a number of well-received films over the last 23 years. When he took on directing the new Fantastic Four movies, it was arguably the wrong fit.
The films flopped notoriously, and Story never quite gelled working with Jessica Alba. The latter played Sue Storm/Invisible Woman in the two Fantastic Four films Story directed. Alba’s experiences were so bad with Story, she almost decided to quit acting at the time.
She never revealed this until several years after the fact. All of it was put out there in an interview Alba did with Elle back in 2010. Per Looper, at the time, she found herself on the wrong side of screenwriters when she said good actors never go completely by the script. Plus, she blamed many of her past box office failures on first-time directors not knowing what they were doing.
Maybe this is why she and Story never got along too well. During the filming of Fantastic Four, Story berated Alba for crying too much in some of her scenes.
Jessica Alba questioned her acting ability
According to Vulture, Jessica Alba said about Story in the Elle interview: “[He told me] ‘It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica.'” Hearing a comment like that from a male director to a woman sounds a bit painful to hear in today’s context. It almost sounds like something uttered from Hollywood long ago.
From Alba’s perspective, it boxed her into a corner psychologically on how she was supposed to approach her role as Sue Storm. She continued: “Am I not good enough? Are my instincts and my emotions not good enough? Do people hate them so much that they don’t want me to be a person? Am I not allowed to be a person in my work? And so I just said, ‘F— it. I don’t care about this business anymore'”.
She clearly recovered from this mess after switching gears in her acting career to doing romantic comedies, action, and independent features. Her experience on the set of Fantastic Four still brings warnings about choosing projects carefully.
Some media outlets have gone after Alba for not vetting the movie projects she was involved in carefully enough.
At least Jessica Alba has gone on to personal and professional success
Yes, Alba has had to face sexism in the world of making films, mostly because so many, like the Daily Mail, designated her one of the most beautiful actresses in the world. Being told to “cry pretty” is at least something no director can say on a film today without being called out for it immediately on social media or other media outlets.
No doubt when Marvel reboots The Fantastic Four, the direction will be leagues better, not including the script. Alba likely will never have a chance at a re-do with Sue Storm, even if she has no need for anything like that nowadays.
At least her reveal of her treatment is a document standing as a precursor to the #MeToo movement. It subtly demanded better treatment of women on film sets, no matter how bad the film may be.