Jessica Alba just got back from three months spent diving with killer sharks in the Bahamas for a movie called Into the Blue, due out next year. She did well—the L.A. native has been strapping on scuba gear for more than a decade—but occasionally her curiosity would get the better of her and she'd go too deep. "At 100 feet, I'd get narced—you know, nitrogen narcosis," she says. "You basically get drunk in the water because you don't have enough oxygen going to your brain. You start moving slower and getting fearless. A lot of people will take the regulator out of their mouth because they believe they can just breathe. You get careless. When that happens to me, I get pretty freaked out."

Twenty minutes over coffee with the 23-year-old actress has much the same effect. You get a nasty headache, you run out of things to say, and you become convinced that not only is she flirting with you but you actually have a chance. I mean, is it just me, or does she seem a little disappointed when I tell her I'm married? "If you're married, where's your ring?" she asks, her gold-brown eyes flashing down at my hand. I tell her I got hitched only six months ago and we're still saving up to get something nice.

"The sex is good for the first five years," she says, while I mop my forehead with a paper napkin. "After that you just bring in other stuff to make it outrageous, like three in the morning on top of a car in a barn. It seems that people only have really freaky sex with people that you don't know that well, because it's a side of you that a lot of people think you should be ashamed of. But after five years, you'll be so comfortable with the person that you get to explore a new part of yourself, you'll be able to do all the things people normally do with strangers."

No words are coming to me. I feel sick but at the same time invincible. I am so freakin' narced. "So can—um, are you, uh, aggressive or, like, demure when it comes to guys?" I manage to ask, very, very slowly.

"I don't know, I don't know," she says, staring straight at me. "What do you think?"

The conversation was starting to feel a little dangerous, maybe because danger is Alba's stock-in-trade. As the catsuited star of the two-seasons-and-out Dark Angel—essentially a postapocalyptic Bionic Woman—Alba single-handedly ratcheted up the sex-and-scare quotient of prime-time television. And while she regrets that the series started to cheese out toward the end, she's proud of her stint as Generation DSL's own Barbarella. "I loved all the attention we got from Dark Angel," she says. "I was like, 'Cool, someone's watching and I'm not just doing this in vain.' The fact that I could entertain people, and they got as into it as I was, and it became this cult thing—that was very cool to me."