Jun 27, 2011

INTERVIEW: Jessica Chastain

'For a long time she was known only as the set of cheekbones with a funny name who had captivated Terrence Malick on the set of his latest film Tree of Life. As the director labored in the editing room polishing and repolishing his masterwork, Chastain busied herself with a series of roles — as a mossad agent in John Madden’s The Debt, a Southern Belle in The Help, Salome in an Al Pacino’s film version of the Oscar Wilde play — none of which the public has actually been able to clap eyes on, thanks to the vagaries of movie scheduling, until this week, when The Tree of Life finally sees release. Finally! People were beginning to talk. On the set of her most recent movie, The Wettest Country In the World, Chastain turned up to find her fellow cast-members dubious of her very existence. “I showed up for the first read through, and I think for them it was case of ‘does this woman actually exist?” she says, laughing. “Who is this Jessica Chastain? Has anyone ever actually seen her? Or is she just a figment of Terry Malick’s imagination?”

With her flame red-hair, pale blue eyes, sculpted beauty and high-end surname (“its French”, she explains, “on my mother’s side”) she is an exotic bloom. You’d be far less surprised to see her image on the side of a Greek vase showing sailors what to avoid if they wish to avoid shipwreck than, say, the pages of People magazine. But I am pleased to report that this mythical creature does in fact exist; to prove it she turns up to our interview at Manhattan’s Crosby street Hotel wearing a leg brace, having torn a tendon in her left leg while dirt-biking in California. Some mythical maiden. She took a motor-cross course to decompress after the glitz and glamour of Cannes where Tree of Life won the Palme D’Or, and at the film’s LA premiere, had to hobble along the red carpet on crutches. “So stupid,” she says, shifting in her seat. “I’m still trying to find new ways to sit.”
from my interview with Jessica Chastain for The Sunday Times

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