"If you don't sign my ass, I'm gonna have to do fifteen shots of Jack Daniel's."
Rarely in the course of a lifetime does an individual get a clear opportunity to directly affect the destiny of a complete stranger. For Jessica Biel, the chance to prevent a tragic death—or at least a long, ugly night of toilet hugging—came at 4 a.m. during pledge week of her freshman year at Tufts University.
Emboldened by copious amounts of liquor (and on doubt a few keg stands), a staggering pack of frat boys descended on Biel's dorm room with a mission—to get her to scrawl her name on a pledge's butt. Despite the obscene hour, Biel shook off her initial shock and took Sharpie in hand.
"The poor guy just drops trou and bends over right in front of me," Biel says, trying her best not to blush. "So I reached out and scribbled some illegible thing, and then they took off. You know, I hope they were serious, because I felt really bad. Fifteen shots of Jack? That could kill somebody."
While it's possible that her squeaky-clean work on the WB dramedy 7th Heaven brought her to the attention of Tufts' horny mob of chronic masturbators, more likely it was her ill-fated brush with kiddie-porn infamy when she was 17. Biel suspected that her Heaven–sent image had kept her from landing the meaty role in American Beauty that went to Thora Birch. So, at a magazine shoot, she had Frank W. Ockenfels 3 take pictures of her sprawled out in nothing but high heels and a thong. As if the photos weren't saucy enough, the article painted her as a foul-mouthed Lolita trying to bait Aaron Spelling into booting her off the show so she could pursue a proper big-screen career.
Part One of the equation worked like a charm: Soon after the story hit newsstands in March 2000, her character was packed off to do some soul-searching, and returns in just a handful of episodes. But the movie-star part? Well, let's just say that the resounding thud of her first post-pinup role—Summer Catch—made her realize that there are worse fates that an eternity in Heaven.
The trailer for Summer Catch
"Yes, the pictures were supposed to be a little more mature and sexy than what I'd done before, but it went further than what I expected or wanted it to," she says. "Looking back, I would've made a different choice. I learned a shitload from the experience and grew a lot—but I wouldn't do it again."
The year at Tufts helped bring her back to earth; tiny Medford, Massachusetts, was the perfect place to plot her next move. "I was pretty depressed, but most of all I was angry that I put myself in that situation," she says. "I never wanted to get off 7th Heaven. I just wanted to go to college."