'Zero Dark Thirty's' Jessica Chastain says she's 'far too emotional' to ever be a CIA agent
'The Help' star might also have a problem with keeping secrets (maybe)
NEW YORK - How on earth did it take this long for Jessica Chastain to come to Hollywood's attention? She's spending the day talking about her role as Maya, a hard edged CIA analyst on the difficult hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" and her genuine charisma is beyond infectious. She practically glows when talking about the project. Of course, the truth is it didn't take Hollywood that long. Chastain booked her first major movie role over three years ago and shot six other movies before "The Tree of Life" finally brought her to moviegoers attention in May, 2011. Three months later "The Help" hit theaters and she went from relative unknown to finding herself recognized on the street.
In actuality, 2012 was a rather slow year for Chastain, besides "Zero Dark" she only had two other releases: "Madagascar 3" and "Lawless." The most anticipated of those pictures, however, was "Zero Dark." Not only because of its subject matter, but because it is Bigelow's follow up to the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker." When I ran into Chastain at a special awards season celebration for "The Help" a little over a year ago she could barely contain her enthusiasm over being cast in the role.
"At that moment i was talking to you I think I was more excited about the prospect of working with Kathryn Bieglow and to play this amazing character who is a real woman," Chastain recalls. "There was three months of prep before I even arrived in Jordan and I had to start to work on the film. But I'm surprised I didn't spill the beans to you because I'm the worst at keeping a secret. And the second I was cast I wanted to just shout it from the rooftops. 'I'm playing this amazing woman!'"
Jessica Chastain on mining for details and feminism's new moment in 'Zero Dark Thirty'
And, of course, the nuance of depicting torture in the film
From 'A(mour)' to 'Z(ero Dark Thirty)': the best films of 2012
A fantastic year of movies filters down to this
'Zero Dark Thirty' wins Best Picture and Best Director from New York Film Critics Circle
'Lincoln' wins three prizes, for Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay
While last year found the 32-year-old actress earning her first Academy Awards nomination in the best supporting actress category for "The Help" most expect her to return to the Dolby Theater next month as a frontrunner to win best actress. She's already been lauded for her performance by the National Board of Review and Washington D.C. Critics and earned SAG Awards and Golden Globes nominations. And if the role isn't showy enough for you on screen, then you haven't seen enough of Chastain off. She's clearly nothing like Maya.
"I'm not playing Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent. I'm far too emotional and a bunch of a hippie to be a CIA agent even though I would like be a spy," Chastain teases. "I needed to do as much research as possible, so I needed to have the script. I would have daily sessions with Mark Boal and it was like going to school. What exactly are the different departments of the CIA. I read a lot of books and I talked to some people involved. I needed to do as much research on the woman as possible."
Maya is based on a real life analyst working in the CIA who worked on the Bin Laden case for almost a decade. Because she's still active within the agency Chastain never met her but she believes she knows why the agent became so obsessed with finding the notorious Al Qaeda mastermind.
"I believe she had a calling. She felt she was chosen," Chastain says. "In the scene with Edgar Ramirez's character she says 'A lot of my friends have died trying to do this and I believe I was chosen to finish the job.' That's exactly how she felt. If you see her at the beginning of the movie and see her at the end of the movie, you just took a screenshot of it and you see where she is it's like a different person. She shows up in the beginning in her best suit right out of school thinking, 'O.K., I'm gonna come and talk to terrorists and do some interrogation.' And she is way out of her league. She did not know it was going to get this intense. We start to see her there and then over the 10 year journey, lose herself. So, finally at the end when they say, 'Where do you want to go?' She has no idea where she would go. Where does she belong? Who is she? And this is what I love for what Kathryn did with the film, 'Who are we as a country now?'"
You can find out more about Chastain's experiences making "Zero Dark Thirty" in our extended interview embedded at the top of this post.
"Zero Dark Thirty" is now playing in limited release. It opens nationwide on Jan. 11.
News From Our Partners
- What to Watch This Weekend: The Season Finales of Nikita, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, and Family Guy The Office Series Finale Review: That'll Do, Show. That'll Do. Syfy Renews Warehouse 13 for a Fifth and Final Season
- The Telefile - The Most Heinous Person on Reality TV This Week The Telefile - Modern Family: The Best Lines of the Night The Telefile - Fall TV 2013: What's On When
- Weekly Ketchup: Will Smith to Star in Wild Bunch Remake? Critics Consensus: Star Trek Into Darkness is Certified Fresh Red Carpet Roundup: Star Trek Into Darkness Edition
- How Far Will 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Boldly Go At Box Office? 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Secret Behind The Mystery Villain 'Pacific Rim' Trailer Surfaces: Watch Now!
- Beyonce Pregnant Again? Sources Confirm 'Epic' Star Is Carrying Baby No. 2 'Hangover 3' Red Band Trailer: Take a Walk Down a NSFW Memory Lane (VIDEO) Why 'Man of Steel' Didn't Use 'Superman' in the Title
- Hear This: Destroy This Place shows how press releases can get it right Watch This: With Beavis And Butt-head Do America, Mike Judge skewered the idiocy of cinematic adventures Cannes Film Festival: Cannes 2013, Day Two: Iranian director Asghar Farhadi chases A Separation with another stunning drama
- The Future Of Olivia And Fitz, And More Season 3 Scoop SPOILER ALERT: What's Ahead In 'Nikita' Season 4? Google Glass Does Porn
- 'Da Vinci's Demons' Review: "The Devil" 'Assassin's Creed' Movie Slated For Memorial Day 2015 Amazon Picks Up John Goodman's 'Alpha House,' Computer Comedy 'Betas'
Harvey holds court with Nicole Kidman and Rooney MaraFriday, May 17, 2013
Francois Ozon's latest isn't as titillating as it wants to beThursday, May 16, 2013
Look who finally made it to the CroisetteWednesday, May 15, 2013
The Weinstein Company steers the drama away from Oscar seasonSaturday, May 11, 2013