"It's a new stage and a new moment in my life," she says. "I'm moving forward. It feels quite inspiring, fun and positive."
It's a welcome change, because Biel admits that turning 30 wasn't easy on her.
"I think I'm definitely afraid of the aging process," she admits with a laugh. "Ageing is a scary thing, especially when you're a woman and dealing with everything that comes with it." Surely it's a little less scary for a woman who is rich, famous, in love and the star of two films this holiday season, Hitchcock and Playing for Keeps?
"Well, when I turned 30," Biel says with a laugh, "I thought, 'Oh, yeah, I'm going to die'."
Wait, die? "At some point," the actress adds hastily. "It has come into my mind lately, although I've never really been afraid of death.
"The truth is, I wasn't really freaking out turning 30," Biel says. "I never had a complete wig-out moment. Honestly, I have never felt more youthful and more curious about life. I've been working a lot to find the best balance between work and life. I'm trying to even it out a bit. "As I get older, I find a greater sense of self-confidence," she adds.
"I've learned that it's fine to not try to be anything else but myself." The Minnesota native plays actress Vera Miles in the critically acclaimed Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins as the legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and now in limited release. The film tells the story of the making of Psycho (1960), generally considered Hitchcock's greatest film.
She goes in a different direction entirely for Playing for Keeps set to open nationwide on December 7. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film stars Gerard Butler as a charming, down-on-his-luck former soccer superstar who, when his career hits the skids, starts coaching his young son's soccer team. Biel plays his ex-wife, who is less than thrilled to have him come barging back into her life.
"My character has moved on with her life and is getting ready to marry her boyfriend," Biel says. "But she can't ignore her feelings for her ex, although she really wishes he would just grow up. They do that dance of wanting to say something to each other, but it remains unsaid.
They're afraid to say what they need to say to each other. "It's such an identifiable story," Biel adds. "I liked that this was about real life and how messy, complicated, embarrassing and joyful it can be if you look for the crazy, wonderful surprises."
To research her Hitchcock role, the actress spent time with Miles' grandson who proved to be a wealth of information.
"Vera is alive, but doesn't have a public life at all," Biel explains. "She isn't interested in having a public life and wasn't interested in speaking with me. It wasn't an insult. "I was lucky that her grandson was interested in talking with me," she continues. "I sat and picked his brain for hours. He's married and was very nice and respectful. He's also highly protective of his grandmother as someone he loves. He's the best historian of her career.
"What I learned is that Vera's life was exactly what she wanted."
So has Biel's, so far. Born in Ely, Minnesota, and raised in Boulder, Colorado, she spent her childhood singing in local musical theatre, starring in productions of Annie and The Sound of Music. She got her first professional break on the inspirational television series 7th Heaven, on which she played preacher's kid Mary Camden from 1996 to 2003 and then again in the show's final season in 2006.
Since then she's focused on films, moving readily from genre to genre in accumulating such credits as Ulee's Gold(1997), Summer Catch(2001), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"(2003), Blade: Trinity(2004), Elizabethtown(2005), The Illusionist(2006), Easy Virtue(2008), Valentine's Day(2010) and, most recently, Total Recall(2012).
She signed on for Total Recall, Biel says, because she loves action films — even if she also hates them.
"I love the discipline of doing physical movies and pushing your body to an extreme, she says. "The loving of it is also the hating of it. Five or six weeks into the diet and this absolutely crazy training regime, which is brutal, you're stronger and you have the utmost energy. You're not having a cocktail at night. You're keeping your body really clean and the toxins are gone. "It's also really boring," she admits. "You feel like you have no life. All you dream about is cake and pasta." (Cindy Pearlman/The New York Times News Service)