Power play

Power play
Jessica Alba as stripper Nancy Callahan in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

SINGAPORE - The drunken, vengeful stripper in the new movie Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is keen to remind everyone that in real life, she is a mother and an entrepreneur - and a feminist to boot.

Thus, despite the fact that her character's entire raison d'etre is to avenge the death of the man who rescued her - and she spends the better part of the film writhing around on stage half-naked in service of that - Jessica Alba insists the role is "actually very powerful for women".

At a Los Angeles press conference with co-stars Eva Green, Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she offers up this statement unprompted, preempting the criticism that the portrayal of women in this and other tales by comic-book artist Frank Miller is riddled with sexist cliches, with many of them often cast as prostitutes, drug addicts, porn stars or man-hating lesbians.

She goes so far as to tell Life! and other reporters that this sequel to director Robert Rodriguez's 2005 adaptation of Miller's Sin City graphic novels would be "the perfect date movie" for a woman like her.

"I bizarrely think, like, if a guy took me on a date to see this movie, I would marry him for sure - because it's like bad-a** chicks, rad dudes who are sexy all over the place and so much cool action," says the 33-year-old star, who is married to production assistant Cash Warren, with whom she has two daughters, Honor, five, and Haven, two.

In 2005's Sin City - which combined animation and live-action techniques to create a slickly stylised movie that looked like a graphic novel - Alba's character Nancy Callahan was a young girl saved from a killer and rapist by a police officer, played by Bruce Willis.

The actress says she was drawn to the new project by a chance to see her character grow.

"In the first film, she starts off as a little girl and she's a victim who was kidnapped, tortured and later saved by Bruce Willis' character. But this movie picks up after he kills himself, so the love of her life is gone, she's devastated, she's an alcoholic, she's still dancing and she's not happy about it," she says of A Dame To Kill For, which opens in Singapore tomorrow.

So "it was cool to be able to take someone from this sweet, naive, innocent victim to a very powerful warrior who takes her life into her own hands and gets revenge."

The first film was a hit both critically and commercially, while the follow-up looks set to be rather less successful, opening in the United States last weekend with a paltry US$6.5 million (S$8.1 million), or just 10 per cent of its budget.

But as empowering as she thinks playing a broken-hearted stripper is, Alba - who rose to fame playing a genetically enhanced super-soldier in James Cameron's science-fiction television series Dark Angel (2000-2002) - seems keen to hammer home the point that she is not, in fact, anything like her character.

Asked if she had a movement coach to help her nail down those stripper moves, she nods emphatically.

"I'm a mom. Like, I have two kids, I run a company," she says, referring to The Honest Company, a business she launched in 2012 to sell toxin-free household, baby and body-care products.

"I'm not this drunk stripper.

"I saw that I'm in these dance sequences throughout the script, so I worked with a choreographer so I was prepared, and I worked with an acting coach to get into that head space."

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