Jessica Chastain on the importance of being uncomfortable


The first time I interviewed Jessica Chastain was at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. At 34, she really was the rising star, having just appeared in

To protect

facing Michael Shannon; at Terrence Malick

Tree of life

; and in


, which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

“I always try to feel uncomfortable,” she told me that September day in the backseat of a limousine in slow motion, an interview location just as glamorous as it sounds. . “I know if I’m playing a role where there’s uneasiness, then it’s something that forces me to grow and rise to the challenge.”

Much has changed since then, but Chastain has stuck to this mantra. “What I tend to do is put myself in situations that I’m not comfortable with,” she says on a Zoom call (much less glamorous) as we discuss her new movie,

The 355


Stepping out of the comfort zone includes playing a tough CIA agent in

The 355

, but it also encompasses

George and Tammy

, a musical mini-series coming out this year that reunites Chastain with her

Take shelter

co-starring Shannon. She plays the role of Tammy Wynette, also known as the first lady of country music. “It’s so stressful,” she says. “I feel a lot of anxiety and I am definitely uncomfortable.”

But that’s what it is. “Listen, when you fail spectacularly, you learn so much,” she says. “The best way to grow as a human being is to fail, not to succeed. The more you put yourself in situations where you can fail, I think the better performer you will be. I am open to spectacular failure on any of my projects.

Examples that she would like to share? “I don’t want to throw anyone else under the bus,” she laughs. “I’ve definitely made movies where I’ve been like, Ooh that accent is a little too strong. I definitely went, I went big, and it’s not just for the movie. I have failed spectacularly on several occasions.

She won’t name the movie, but I guess it’s either the 2016 T

he Huntsman: Winter’s War

, in which she adopted a crazy Scottish brogue, or that of 2017

The zookeeper’s wife

, whom many reproach him for his misinterpretation of the Polish accent.

The 355

has no voice issues – Chastain speaks in his natural Californian tones – but the film was otherwise not praised by critics (

this included

), with its forgettable plot and lackluster rhythm. “Better than all the bad James Bond movies,” says one of the few semi-positive reviews. The film has a 25% rating on

This is unlikely to reverse the fortunes of its producer and star, who still lives up to her performance as Tammy Faye Bakker last year.

Tammy Faye’s eyes

. Both this and

The 355

were produced by Freckle Films, Chastain’s production company, founded in 2016.

As she recounts, Freckle Films was born from a chance remark she made at the Critics Choice Awards in 2015, when she received the group’s first MVP Award. This after a brilliant year which included roles in

One of the most violent years, Interstellar, Miss Julie


Eleanor Rigby’s disappearance

. During her acceptance speech, she said Hollywood needs to do more to foster diversity. A little while later, a reporter at a press conference told him, “I loved your speech; What are you going to do about it? ”

“And I was like: Okay! It’s more than words.

The 355

The diverse cast of s includes Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, and Fan Bingbing, all playing somewhat against the grain as powerful government agents from various countries.

“This idea of ​​seeing these women in roles that we had never given them – I was excited about all these actors, especially to see them being so physical in our film.”

She has great respect for Kruger in particular, after they filmed a lengthy fight streak early in production on the film. “She’s really good at it,” said Chastain. “She should be an action star. She’s on the bike in the Parisian gallery. She does all of her fighting stuff. She is incredible. I was in great pain after doing this scene with her.

I’m joking that she could have hired Bryce Dallas Howard as an understudy. The two redheads are often confused by fans and even friends.

“No!” she gasps. “Your double stunt takes all the hits, and I love Bryce.” I wouldn’t want her to hurt herself. She adds: “We have to do something, her and me.

The parents trap

, an adult version of

The parents trap

or something crazy.

Producer / star is an uncomfortable combination, even for someone who thrives on discomfort. Doing

Tammy Faye’s eyes

, she recalls, “the producer side of me was like, ‘we have to make this movie,’ and the actor side was trying to sabotage it because I wanted more time to rehearse and work on the character. She’s the only one. times I’ve been actively split in two.


The 355

felt a little different. “For me, the producer’s hat was more present in this movie than the actor’s because I always wanted to make sure that everyone was okay, that everyone felt taken care of, everyone was feeling listen.”

And while the film ends on a note that suggests a possible sequel, she doesn’t seek to make

The 355 Two

. “The reality is, I didn’t do it to be an action star. I really don’t want to be an action star. I have other things that interest me, so many aspects of our industry.

It is also good if the film takes on a second life without his involvement as an actor. “I am open to any possibility that celebrates and honors the women who do this work, and sees them as more than their sexual desirability, sees them as competent, intelligent and skillful women.”

The 355 plays from January 7 when the cinemas are open.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2022


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