Jessica Chastain Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (98)  | Personal Quotes (181)  | Salary (4)

Overview (3)

Born in Sacramento, California, USA
Birth NameJessica Michelle Chastain
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a Northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and was in a dance troupe by age thirteen. She began performing in Shakespearean productions all over the Bay area.

An actor in a production of "Romeo & Juliet" encouraged her to audition for Juilliard as a drama major. She became a member of "Crew 32" with the help of a scholarship from one of the school's famous alumni, Robin Williams.

In her last year at Juilliard, she was offered a holding deal with TV writer/producer John Wells and she eventually worked in three of his TV shows. Jessica continues to do theatre, having played in "The Cherry Orchard", "Rodney's Wife", "Salome" and "Othello". She spends her time between New York and Los Angeles, working in theater, film and TV.

In 2011, she had a prolific year in film. She was nominated for and won a number of awards, including a 2012 Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for The Help (2011).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: emo83

Spouse (1)

Gian Luca Pasi De Preposulo (10 June 2017 - present) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (2)

Red hair
Dimple chin

Trivia (98)

Attended the drama division of The Juilliard School in New York City and was in the graduating class of her best friend, Jess Weixler.
One of two daughters of a musician Michael Monasertio and a vegan-chef with a food truck mother Jerri Renee Chastain. Jessica Michelle was the first member of her family to attend college.
Before her film career, she toured in a stage production of "Othello" with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In order to gain weight for the role of Celia Foote in The Help (2011), she ate soy ice cream melted in the microwave.
Was personally handpicked by Al Pacino to play opposite him as the title character of the play 'Salome'. Pacino later recommended her to Terrence Malick, who gave her an audition for The Tree of Life (2011).
Attended El Camino Fundamental High School in Sacramento, California, but later dropped out. One of her classmates was Mandisa.
Was named on the list of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for 2012.
Owns a three-legged dog named Chaplin.
Was named the Sexiest Smile by Victoria Secret's "What Is Sexy" list in 2012.
Won the Next Future Icon award at The Elle Style Awards in 2012.
Was awarded at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards with the Calvin Klein Collection's Emerging Star Spotlight Award.
Was awarded the inaugural Gucci Award for Women in Cinema for The Tree of Life (2011).
Was ranked #86 on Ask Men's list of Top 99 Women of 2012.
Was once roommates with Michelle Williams They were both nominated for Oscars in 2012 and have remained good friends.
Good friends with Michael Urie. They were both members of the Juilliard School's Drama Division's Group 32.
Learned German and Krav Maga for The Debt (2010).
Her grandmother took her to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when she was just 7 years old, sparking the early acting bug in her. Her grandmother, Marilyn, was introduced to the world when she accompanied Jessica to the 2012 Academy Awards.
(June 8, 2012) Named the ambassador for Manifesto, the Yves Saint Laurent fragrance.
Was originally cast in Iron Man 3 (2013) as Maya Hansen but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Is a vegan and was named PETA's 2012 sexiest vegetarian (June 28, 2012).
One of 176 people invited to join AMPAS in 2012.
The Sopranos (1999) is her favorite television show.
The English Patient (1996) is her favorite film.
Ralph Fiennes is her favorite actor.
Plays the ukulele.
Was originally cast in Diana (2013) as Princess Diana but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Was originally cast in Oblivion (2013) as Julia but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Debuted as #82 on the Most Beautiful Famous Faces by The Annual Independent Critics List of the 100 Most Beautiful Famous Faces From Around the World.
Topped Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed List for women (2012).
Had a supporting role in To the Wonder (2012), but her performance wound up being removed from the final cut.
Completed work on The Color of Time (2012) in one day.
For her role in The Help (2011), she modeled her character and her high-pitched voice after the mother of author Kathryn Stockett and visited Sugar Ditch, Tennessee, in preparation for the role of Celia Foote.
Named one of the Top 25 Style Icons of The Season by the UK's Stylist Magazine. (2012).
Runner-up for Esquire magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive. (2012).
Was in consideration for the role of Annabel Richter in A Most Wanted Man (2014), but Rachel McAdams was cast instead.
Purchased a Greenwich Village co-op apt. for $1.2 million to live in while on Broadway during the run of "The Heiress". (2012).
Was ranked #76 on Ask Men's list of Top 99 Women of 2013.
Was ranked #5 on the Forbes list of Best Dressed Women Of 2012.
Holds the distinction of twice appearing in the top two films at the American box office in one weekend. This occurred on the weekend of 18-21 January 2013, when Zero Dark Thirty (2012) dropped to the number two position as her other film, Mama (2013), ascended to the top spot. This made Chastain the first woman in nearly 50 years to have the leading role in the top two films at the box office. This also occurred on the weekend of 2-4 September 2011, when The Help (2011) was the number one film in America, and another film starring Chastain, The Debt (2010), took the number two position, though her roles in these two films were supporting ones.
Based her performance of Annabel in Mama (2013) on Crystal Castles singer Alice Glass.
(February 5, 2013) Her estranged father, Michael Monasterio, passed away at age 55 due to complications from bronchitis.
Had a younger sister, Juliet Chastain (a.k.a. Juliet Christina Monasterio; December 13, 1978 - May 20, 2003), who committed suicide by gunshot.
Was in a relationship with her now husband Gian Luca Pasi De Preposulo since February 2013.
Was named the Sexiest Actress by Victoria Secret's "What Is Sexy" list in 2013.
Was ranked #72 in Maxim Magazine's Hot 100 of 2013 list.
Was awarded the Nova Award at the 2013 Maui Film Festival for the "range of characters she has brought to life in her chameleon-like silver screen performances".
Was named one of the "The Top 10 Style Stars of the Year" by People magazine in 2013.
Has starred alongside Jason Clarke in 3 movies: Texas Killing Fields (2011), Lawless (2012) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
Kathryn Bigelow decided to offer the lead role of Maya to her after seeing an early cut of Coriolanus (2011). Her agents originally declined the role of Maya for her in Zero Dark Thirty (2012). Producer Megan Ellison, who had worked with Chastain on Lawless (2012), gave Kathryn Bigelow Chastain's phone number so she could personally offer her the role. Chastain accepted.
Has permanently saved a voice mail from director Kathryn Bigelow in which she learned she had been chosen to play the role of Maya in Zero Dark Thirty (2012). The message came on November 21, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
"The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright and "Osama Bin Laden" by Michael Scheuer are two of the many books she researched in preparation for her role as CIA operative Maya in Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
She first met Ned Benson at a festival screening of Four Lean Hounds (2003). She asked if she could work with him, later leading to her starring in his short The Westerner (2010) and the Eleanor Rigby films.
Ned Benson wrote the part of Eleanor Rigby specifically for her.
Ned Benson wrote parts of script on the set of The Tree of Life (2011) where he would go to visit Chastain hoping to be inspired by Terrence Malick's filmmaking process.
Was ranked at #23 on Empire's The 100 Sexiest Movie Stars list. (2013).
She was noticed at Juilliard by actress Marthe Keller, who recommended her to Al Pacino. He then cast her in the lead role of Salome in his play, "Salome", and his long-awaited epic movie of the same name, Salome (2013).
Appeared on the Entertainment Weekly list "New Hollywood: Entertainers on the Rise" (2013).
Appeared on the Elle Annual Hollywood Power list. (2013).
Interviewed Marion Cotillard for Elle's Women In Hollywood issue. (2013).
Debuted on Vulture's 100 Most Valuable Stars of 2013 list at #75 for 2013.
Was voted "Sexiest Woman In The World" by the Hungarian magazine Periodika. (2013).
She's a fan of Breaking Bad (2008).
She stated her interest in appearing in a movie directed by Michael Haneke.
Jessica's paternal grandfather was of Basque and Castilian/Spanish descent. The rest of her ancestry is one eighth Greek, as well as English, German, French, Dutch, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish. Two of Jessica's paternal great-grandparents, Antonio Astoreca Monasterio and Ramona Egurrola Basañez, were emigrants from Spain (of Basque and Castilian ancestry). One of her paternal great-grandfathers, Ernest John Thomas (originally "Anastaciou"), was Greek.
Was ranked #32 on Ask Men's list of Top 99 Women of 2014.
Had a 4 year relationship with director Ned Benson.
Some of her favorite classic actresses are Clara Bow, Greta Garbo and Greer Garson.
As of 2016, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Tree of Life (2011), The Help (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and The Martian (2015).
"Chastain" is her mother's maiden name.
Refuses to discuss her true age with the public. She considers acknowledging her true age as limiting her choices and offers of acting roles.
She was estranged from her biological father, Michael Monasterio, all her life.
Father, Michael Monasterio, was a rock musician.
Told Indiewire in December 2014 that she considers herself a feminist.
Is a fan of Marion Cotillard and has publicly expressed her desire to work with her.
Often mistaken for Bryce Dallas Howard. In June 2015, Chastain posted a video of Howard on her Instagram account lip-syncing to the song "I am not Jessica Chastain", from a video created by YouTube user legolambs called "JESSICA CHASTAIN: The Musical (Bryce Dallas Howard)" (also released in June 2015).
Appeared on Vulture's 100 Most Valuable Stars of 2014 list at #77 for 2014.
Christopher Nolan sent an assistant to Ireland, where she was filming Miss Julie (2014), with a script for Interstellar (2014) watermarked with Chastain's name. Chastain was not allowed to keep the script after she read it.
Celebrated her birthday, while filming Crimson Peak (2015) in Toronto and invited a few close friends to her party, among the guests was Tom Hiddleston, with whom she did "ping-pong matches, crazy dancing, and karaoke", as both revealed in an interview.
Learned the piano for Crimson Peak (2015) and performed all songs in the movie by herself.
For A Most Violent Year (2014), she thought that her character, Anna Morales, would only wear Armani and wrote to the fashion house to request that they lend their costumes to the film. They obliged, therefore every outfit that her character wears is vintage Armani from 1981.
Appeared on Vulture's 100 Most Valuable Stars of 2015 list at #86 for 2015.
Director Guillermo del Toro gave her the script for Crimson Peak (2015) after working with her on Mama (2013) and thought she would play the lead role, Edith. After reading the script Chastain asked to play the character of Lucille, which she thought as more interesting and challenging which del Toro agreed to.
After Javier Bardem left A Most Violent Year (2014) she wrote director J.C. Chandor an impassioned three page letter asking him to consider Oscar Isaac for the lead role. Chandor replied back almost immediately with an email saying he was already considering Isaac.
She filmed A Most Violent Year (2014), and had to fly back and forth to New York to play an American, in detail, a gangster's daughter in the 80s, while she was playing an early 20th century English Victorian woman in Crimson Peak (2015), a huge difference and versatility.
She and her former roommate and good friend, actress Michelle Williams, were both nominated for Oscars in the same year (2012).
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 70th Cannes International Film Festival in 2017.
(June 10, 2017) Married her boyfriend of five years Gian Luca Pasi De Preposulo in his home country. The wedding took place in the northern Italian city of Treviso at the Passi de Preposulo family estate Villa Tiepolo Passi, which is less than an hour north of Venice. The wedding was attended by long-time best friend and actress, Jess Weixler, Anne Hathaway and her husband Adam Shulman, Edgar Ramírez, Emily Blunt and many others.
Has expressed an interest in playing the Batman villain Poison Ivy in a film.
Changed her published birthdate from March 24, 1977 to March 24, 1981 in order to conceal her actual age. The media found out she was lying in 2012.
Contessa Passi di Prepossulo by marriage, a title of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, then of the (Bonapartist) Kingdom of Italy, then of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia and finally of the Kingdom of Italy.
Mother, with husband Gian Luca Pasi De Preposulo, of daughter Giulietta Chastain Passi di Prepossulo dei Conti Passi di Prepossulo (b. April 4, 2018, through surrogacy) and second child (b. 2020).
Maternal granddaughter of Gary Douglas Chastain (son of Bert Lowell or Lowel Chastain and wife Irene T. Welch and paternal grandson of George Washington Chastain and wife Elva or Eva Evans) and wife Marilyn Schoonover (daughter of Alvin Dwight Schoonover and wife Mary Jane Adams, paternal grandson of Joseph Jay Schoonover and wife Olive Josephine Adair of Clan Maxwell and maternal granddaughter of Charles "Charley" Wesley Adams and wife Maude Elizabeth Toothaker). Of French, Dutch, English, Scots-Irish (Northern Irish), Scottish, Welsh and Irish descent. Patrilineal descendant of Dr. Pierre Chastain, a French Huguenot immigrant, who is the ancestor of likely millions of Americans, including football player Terry Bradshaw, actress Joan Crawford, entertainer Chris Hardwick, among others.
Natural daughter of Edward Michael Monasterio by Jerri Renee Chastain.
During a July 2019 interview, Jessica Chastain said that she often gets mistaken for fellow actress Bryce Dallas Howard. Chastain told a story about a time when Chastain herself mistook a magazine photo of Howard for one of Chastain, and another story about a time when she (Chastain) saw Bryce's father, Ron Howard, in a store and he momentarily mistook her for his daughter.
Paternal granddaughter of Edward Michael "Eddie" Monasterio (b. California) (son of Antonio "Tony" Monasterio Astoreca (b. Gernike-Lumo, Biscay, Spain), of Basque Spanish descent, and wife Ramona or Romana Egurrola Basáñez (b. Bilbao, Biscay, Spain), of Basque and Castilian Spanish descent, paternal grandson of Juan Pedro Monasterio Sendagorta and wife Petra Astoreca Arrién and maternal grandson of Antonio Egurrola Gandiaga (b. Bilbao, Biscay, Spain) and wife Melitona Severina Basáñez Pereda (b. Villasuso de Mena, Burgos, Castilla-y-León, Spain) and wife Alice Ann Thomas (b. Wyoming) (daughter of Ernest John Thomas who had changed his surname from Anastasiou (b. Greece) and wife Matilda Maude Cupp (b. Kentucky), and maternal granddaughter of Andrew Jesse or Jessie Cupp and wife Emyline or Emeline "Emily" Minnie "Mincy" Rutherford of Clan Rutherford, of British Isles or English and Scottish and some German descent).
Has worked with James McAvoy in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby trilogy, Dark Phoenix and IT Chapter 2. During an interview while promoting IT Chapter 2 James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain said they'd like to work together again and become a memorable cinema pairing.
Alumna of the AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Class of 1998.

Personal Quotes (181)

I was a difficult child because I wanted to be the mom.
I don't look modern. I'm not the girl that would walk into the room and everyone goes, "Oh!"
[on being directed by Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life (2011)] I would have pages of what we were going to convey, but I could say the words in any order I wanted, and sometimes we would say the same thing in many different ways... I think he will always be the greatest teacher I know. I'm trying, in the Terrence Malick kind of way of not planning and just allowing life to happen, trying to find these moments that mirror life and [are] not preconceived in any way. So that has changed me. I try to keep that freshness in things we've done.
[on rehearsals] They'll say, "Save it, save it". I tell them: "Don't worry. I have a bottomless well of tears."
Sometimes I'll have a meeting with someone and they'll say, "Oh, Sean Penn was just here and was saying the nicest things about you". You know, when you're applying for a job? These are like my recommendations. It's nice.
I get embarrassed really easily. I get embarrassed even when people sing me "Happy Birthday."
[on preparing for her role in The Tree of Life (2011)] Emotionally and spiritually, I had to figure out what it meant to play the embodiment of grace. And how do I capture that? Okay, so I start studying paintings of the Madonna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I start listening to music that inspires feelings of love inside me, I start reading books about cultivating joy and cultivating gratitude. I start meditating.
I don't normally get into this, but I'm a vegan. And I try not to, well, I don't want to torture anything. I guess it's about trying to live a life where I'm not contributing to the cruelty in the world... While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here.
When I first moved to LA, it was very difficult. All the casting directors didn't know what to do with me, with the way I looked. I'm not blonde with tanned skin and tall and skinny. I looked very different - and they said I looked like I was from another time.
Right after The Tree of Life (2011) came out, I started hearing about strategies for my career. And I made a decision that I wasn't going to do anything based on a strategy. If I don't continue to challenge myself and risk failure, I have no business being an actor. I'm not an actor to be a personality. I want to see every part I take like a master class. And you know what? I'm going to fail sometimes. And that's OK. Because when you fail, you learn more.
I don't talk about my dating life. But I will say this: in this business it's very tough to maintain a relationship because we're like gypsies - always on the move. And the more you share your relationship with the world the less special it becomes. So I always try to keep my dating life quiet.
It took me four hours to read the script for The Tree of Life (2011) because it's so dense and beautiful, and I feel it should be published, and I hope it is someday because it's really gorgeous. I knew from the script that it was going to be a really special film, and it was going to be unlike anything probably I'll ever make. It's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that changes the structure of filmmaking. I didn't know how he was gonna do it, but I knew, because it was Terrence Malick, he was gonna do it and he did.
People were confused by me, and at first I was auditioning a lot for the crazy characters or the victim, someone who'd been attacked. Which is great, because usually those are the best acting roles.
There is this immediate connection, this intimacy when you're acting because there's no room to be polite or shy. Also, as an actor I get to connect with women I've never met before.
I always say I am a realist, and my mom says, "No, you just have anxiety."
I'm inspired by people who are so sensitive and vulnerable that they try to cover it up.
I'm very sensitive in real life. I cannot not cry if someone around me is crying. I will start to cry if someone is crying, even if it's not appropriate. I have that thing in me, a weakness or sensitivity.
[Addressing her fans about her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Help (2011)] Oh my goodness! I am in absolute shock. I didn't expect to receive an Oscar nomination! I really didn't! I don't understand this great year. I'm in Paris and was in a fashion show when the nominations were announced. My life has become a dream. Thank you all, for your love and faith in me. I've more blessings than I can count. Today is a beautiful day that I will remember for the rest of my life.
My grandmother has been the biggest influence in my life when it comes to acting. My father is a fireman and mother is a vegan chef, and the only real artistic connection I had while growing up was my grandmother. She always kind of wanted to be an artist and an actress, but as a young woman in the '50s, she wasn't really given the opportunity. She was told to marry young and have children young, and be a mom. But when I was young, she'd do things like, for Christmas, she'd buy me a ballet tutu and ballet lessons. My grandmother took me to my first play. And she moved me to Juilliard. When I got in, she flew with me to move into the dorm. She's been an incredible influence in my life.
I love fashion. As a young girl I would always save my money to buy fashion magazines and imagine myself doing photo shoots or walking up the red carpet. All those things came true in my life although I like a more retro look than a lot of the latest designer things I get to wear. But fashion is something I love to explore and I whenever I get to go to the big fashion shows in Paris I feel so much anxiety because I'm so fascinated by the art and creativity that goes into creating beautiful clothes.
I'm not the girl at the club on the table. I'm going to be the one in the corner, quiet and so I don't call attention to myself.
I was the girl who cut school to go to the park, and the other kids would be smoking and drinking and I'd be reading Shakespeare.
I walk the dogs, I play the ukulele, I cook. I'm not a girl who goes to big parties--I'm shy.
I was always a little awkward, a redhead, and very freckly. Kids like to make fun of people who are different. I had short red hair and wore workout boots, so I got teased really badly for having red hair and being different.
[on dealing with her quick fame] I'll be the first unknown that everyone's going to be sick of. People will say, "We have no idea what her name is, but she is everywhere!"
You know, it's recently come into focus for me why I want to be an actor: It's because of the connection I feel to people.
When something happens, I always check myself and know it's going to go away. So be prepared for it. This is a tough business for actors who are sensitive. If you try to hold on to things, you'll go crazy.
[on being named the ambassadress of the Yves Saint Laurent fragrance, Manifesto] Yves Saint Laurent is a brand that inspires me deeply. Since its creation, the brand has conveyed strong values that I cherish, such as an unwavering commitment, absolute love and feminine audacity. This new fragrance is an emblem of it all. I am [excited] to be part of this beautiful adventure.
[on doing her first animated movie, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)] The first day I thought, "No cameras, that's fine, I'll wear sweats, no make-up", and I showed up and I was doing the voice, and I looked up and saw all the cameras and I realized, "Oh my gosh, they're videotaping this." And then of course the next day I turned up, I was in, like, full hair and make-up.
I think a film should be judged on the film and not on the sex of the person who directed the film.
[on what she used her paycheck on from Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)] There was a couch I wanted to buy and I had no time in my schedule to do another film. I was doing so much press last year, thinking, 'How am I going to pay my rent?' Also, I had to buy a new couch. My agent said, 'I don't know if you're interested, but they're having auditions for an animated film.' I've always wanted to do an animated film. So I went in and auditioned and then I got the call that I got the part. And I got the couch!
I'm very private. We've never seen a picture of me with a beau. For me, it's about the work. I have no personal life!
[about her chances of winning an Oscar for The Help (2011)] I was convinced that I wouldn't, but I didn't care. Just look at what last year was, everything that happened. If I'd also won an Oscar, it would have made me crazy! It would have got way too much, way too soon. Of course, you know, I would love to be back at some point in my future but it wasn't something like, "I need this." It was more like, "This is very intense here and I'm just going to kind of hang back and celebrate."
I always try to play characters who are very different from what I am. If the character was a good swimmer or a diver, I'd be interested because in my real life, I am totally scared of water. I would immediately feel compelled to do it because I'm always trying to tackle any fear I have. I don't want my life to be controlled by fear, whether it's the fear of being rejected, fear of being loved; I want to run my life with open arms. Also, I never want to play the same character twice. To me, that's soul crushing.
I always want to keep doing different things, I don't want to just concentrate on film. The most important thing for me is being an actor. Film, theatre, television- that's the career I want. Actresses have so many ups and downs, and we're not always given wonderful choices. So I always want to find great characters. If that character's on television or stage, I'm going to go there.
I've done 11 films, mostly films with very strong men - Al Pacino, Tom Hardy, Brad Pitt, Ralph Fiennes - but The Help (2011) is the film where I was getting questions "Oh, how was that set?" And I would think, "Well it was probably the friendliest set I've ever been on, but are you asking because it was all women and assume we would be fighting?" That made me realize there needs to be a lot more films with women casts, if there is that misconception out there...
[on losing out on an Oscar to costar Octavia Spencer] Octavia Spencer was a great teacher for me. I went to Juilliard and studied Shakespeare and Chekov and Ibsen and all the heavies, so to be able to do comedy was such a dream. That woman's timing is so great. As soon as I met her I knew we had great chemistry together - she was a fantastic teacher.
Sorry to say that Iron Man 3 (2013) isn't going to work out. My schedule is jam packed and I can't fit anything else in. The press announced my possible attachment far too soon. I know many of you wanted me to be involved, and I'm so sorry to disappoint you. Hopefully there'll be another Marvel film in my future. Shane Black and everyone on the Iron Man team are really wonderful. I'm very excited to see the film when it comes out.
[on the Time Magazine piece that was written about her for The 100 Most Influential People in the World issue by Gary Oldman] I had no idea that Gary Oldman even knew my name 3 months ago. I've been a huge fan of his work for years. Many of you know the story of how I burst into tears when he came up to me on the red carpet at Palm Springs. His performances have meant so much to me. They've been so inspiring. Reading what he wrote in the Time Magazine piece leaves me speechless. I can never find the words to truly express how grateful I am to be a working actress. The beautiful, kind comments that Gary wrote drive me to want to be better. He is far too generous, but I will work very hard to try and live up to what he wrote. I am forever moved and in awe of that man.
I try not to fake anything.
I end up doing roles where I'm afraid I'm going to embarrass myself, or fail. But then it gives you that extra hit of adrenalin, and you have to step up your game.
I have a feeling that very soon I'm going to fail very, very big. I'm going to try something and everybody's going to be like, "What was she thinking?"
I don't want to be in my car all day. I love getting up in the morning in Venice and walking my dogs down to the café to get my tea, and then perhaps going to a bookstore and sitting and reading, then walking to the beach.
Isabelle Huppert is for me the greatest actress in the world. She always plays very bold characters, very daring women. She always challenges herself, working with directors from other countries, she's never lazy.
When I was a young girl I felt on the outside. I remember cutting all my hair very short at twelve years old, I was wearing red cowboy boots, had my own style. Then a lot of children at school tired to make me feel nervous and teased me a lot because I was different. Jerry Hall was such a great figure for me to see, at that time, because she was redhead and very powerful. I hope that this uniqueness is something I have in common with Yves Saint Laurent women. And I hope these ads will show to young girls how to be different.
I have a rule not to date actors and because of that I can hopefully make work be the focus of public interest instead of my private life.
I got teased quite a lot when I was younger but I've grown into my red hair now and see it as something that makes me unique and special.
[on working with Hollywood 'tough guys'] My favorite thing is, I work actually with a lot of men that you would think at first impression would be kind of scary. Sam Worthington, Michael Shannon, Al Pacino, Sean Penn. What I love so much about these men is that they are very strong, and they have this almost aggressive vibe, but it's because they have this intense vulnerability, that they have to be very strong to protect themselves. So it's actually, once you get to know them, you realize they're all kittens. At the end of the day, they're like kittens.
[on the pressure of doing Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] It was a very stressful shoot, but how could it not be when you're dealing with that kind of material and you're in that part of the world. We were shooting part of it in Chandigarh, India, which is on the border of Pakistan. It's such great responsibility in the story we were telling. It was a lot of pressure. I think the script is one of the best scripts that I have ever read, and my part is awesome.
I love being around great actors and film-makers, and I try to hide the fact that I'm in awe of them. I try to pretend with Al Pacino or Helen Mirren that, you know, we're just part of the same team, we're all in this together, but really, secretly, the whole time my heart is beating very fast.
[on her stylist Liza Stewart (Elizabeth Stewart)] I've worked with her for two years. My very first meeting with her, I really had a connection because she sees fashion as more than just using a dress to look pretty. I never wear something to bring myself attention. For me, when I'm wearing a dress, it's about the dress and about the story that the designer was creating. I also love the idea that she dresses people for who they are as individuals. She doesn't dress people like herself, or like each other. She also dresses Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto, and Amanda Seyfried, and we all have very different styles. In my everyday style, it's more simple. I don't necessarily want to draw a lot of attention to myself. Lots of black blazers and scarves.
[on her character of Maggie in Lawless (2012)] I love the relationship between Maggie and Forrest. Maggie is a woman who is very used to being around men - she was a burlesque dancer - and she's probably been hurt by a lot of men, physically and emotionally. When she shows up at this little town, she's an oddity for the brothers and especially Forrest. He's used to violence but not being around women. So she becomes almost the aggressor in the relationship, in the way she pursues him. I did see her as very strong. Nick Cave [who wrote the screenplay] suggested that I watch Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) to understand her better. There's a great line that Claudia Cardinale's character says after she sleeps with the man who killed her husband: "It's nothing that a hot bath won't wash away." And there's something of that attitude in Maggie. She doesn't drown in her sorrows. She's always moving forward. When she meets Forrest it's the first time she's not able to pick up her bag and walk away. I read a lot about 1930s Chicago and watched films like Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). I was lucky because I'd just worked on Texas Killing Fields (2011), which Michael Mann produced. I knew he had just made Public Enemies (2009) so I sent him an email asking if he could recommend any books about the period. Within an hour I got a call saying: "We'd like to schedule an appointment for you to sit down with Michael Mann tomorrow," and when I showed up, he had binders of stuff from Public Enemies for me. That was helpful.
I love researching. When I get a role that's one of the very first things I do. I just want to fill myself up with knowledge of what the character might have come from. Not just even reading about the history of the time, which of course I do, but I also love learning about the music of the time, listening to that; thinking of the food of the time; what someone would have done for fun.
I have always known I wanted to be an actress, but my New York experience made me realize that my desire had nothing to do with becoming famous or making money, I was interested in exploring the human soul, its complexity, I wanted to work to understand something about life and myself. Being an actress means being in another person's shoes and therefore understanding what the person whose role you play feels; but also connecting with other human beings, as a mark of profound professional intimacy, that often touches the soul.
[on if it was awkward being nominated alongside co-star Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards] It would have been awkward if I was set on winning but I wasn't. A year ago it was "Jessica Chastain who?" and now it's "Oscar-nominated Jessica Chastain". I can't help but smile saying that.
I don't read reviews because if you believe a good review, then you have to believe a bad review.
[on her scenes being cut from To the Wonder (2012)] Just as I suspected, my small role has not made it into the final version. But I really didn't imagine it would. The three days I shot were with Ben Affleck and he was doing really great stuff. I'm looking forward to see how it all brilliantly comes together.
[on doing the scary scenes for Mama (2013)] I've done an experiment, and it's working for me. I heard Johnny Depp has an earwig [headphones], and sometimes he listens to music during a scene. So I asked the director if I could wear one for all of my scary scenes and have them play this really terrifying music in my ear. That's how it's gonna be in the scene anyway, right?
[on fame] It's a little daunting, because I hope that people don't get sick of me. I'm in denial. I don't like the idea that fame could mean that people can no longer relate to me. So I'm going to try to figure out how to live my life so that isn't a problem.
[on why she doesn't reveal her age] I never say. Clearly, I'm not 15. But I like mystery.
There's nothing about me that makes you think, "movie star". I'm just this normal girl.
My grandmother took me to see David Cassidy in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I thought, "I want to be up there." We sat down and the play started and there was a girl of my age who opened this huge book and started narrating and I thought, "This is a job. She gets to wear cool costumes and this is what I am going to do." Ever since then, I have always known I was going to be an actor."
Terrence Malick is probably one of the greatest teachers I'll ever know. A great teacher for filmmaking, for acting, but also and mostly, a great teacher of what it is to be a great human being. I value him so much.
Whenever I approach a role, I'm the girl who will sit in my house for a month and just watch as much as I can on the time period.
If you get $100 or $1,000, you are still going to spend it. You'll just end up spending the $1,000 on a nicer house or whatever and then you'll have to keep the money at that level to sustain your lifestyle. But if you keep it at the $100 lifestyle, then you're fine. You can choose the job for the creativity and the challenges of the characters rather than the money.
I'm not going out to night clubs and dancing with other actors, I'm not having lunch at The Ivy.
I never get recognized. I think because, in my most successful film [The Help (2011)], I look very different. But, you know, if someone does happen to recognize me, they're usually sweet, and it's never a negative experience. My favorite thing is if I'm going out to buy something embarrassing, I always think, "Oh God, I hope no one sees me buy this!" However, for the most part, it's been fine.
It wasn't like I wanted to be an actor. It was more like I am that. This is my job. It was so clear cut, I never had to make a choice.
It's tough, acting. You have to walk two lines of a tightrope. There's the all-consuming fear of failure: I'm about to fall flat on my face. There's that and there's also confidence - you have to be confident in order to try things - and they fight each other all the time.
[on her Broadway role as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress] I always look for a great arc. Men get great arcs all the time, especially in movies, but it's very rare for a woman to get an arc. Catherine absolutely has that. She finds her voice, which is a wonderful thing to play.
Before coming to New York, I had never had the possibility to come close to creativity of that kind. No one in my family had ever had anything to do with that environment, therefore at my audition at the Juilliard I risked a lot, especially on an emotional level. When they accepted me I found myself in another world.
I always felt before I had to prove myself. I would show up on a set and people would have heard about me but they wouldn't have seen my work. It was like they were watching me out of the corner of their eye saying: "Who is this girl?"
I like art, and fashion to me is art, so I will continue wearing things that I think are beautiful pieces and probably will get people talking.
I was having so much trouble with energy and a friend of mine said, "You know, just go vegan for two weeks," and I did and I felt so good, health wise, that I thought, "Okay. I'm going to stick to this." That's how it started, but then you start to read. Once I started doing that I thought, "I don't know that I'll ever not be vegan." I just did it and that was the end.
The most important thing in my life, and the thing I try to focus on, is to try not to live a life of cruelty. That means trying to make sure I look people in the eye when I meet them. Sometimes you jump in a taxi, or maybe you only have two minutes with someone, and you never see them again. I try to always look them in the eye and have a real experience of what it is to communicate with someone.
I've always made really strange choices, maybe because no one told me otherwise.
[about her shaky reception when she first went on auditions in LA] Many people didn't know what Juilliard was or didn't care about my theatrical training. I'd hear things like, "We like Jessica, but she's not pretty enough for that part." You realize, "What does that mean?" I went from being the most unlucky actress to the luckiest actress. Some of the films took forever to come out. My very first film, Wilde Salomé (2011), still hasn't come out yet! The Tree of Life (2011) had a long editing process. The Debt (2010) sat on the shelf for a year when Miramax was sold. I went to every film festival - with two films in each festival. I ended up having every movie in the movie theater.
They talk about a curse with awards. Sometimes people win then bad things happen. I just want to act. And I don't want anything bad to happen to me.
Women inspire me who juggle many things, who continue to be creative and also have a personal life. I definitely want a family, because how do you play normal people if you don't have a normal life?
I love to disappear into roles and play different characters. And I think I'm getting great films now because I'm not conventionally beautiful.
[on her fighting scenes for The Debt (2010)] I trained for months. I had no idea how to throw a punch; I'd never been in a fight in my life. But considering I'm a pacifist, I enjoyed it. Krav Maga is how to kill your opponent in the least time possible. It's ruthless and made me feel bad ass. I'd say to my friend, "Come at me!" I'd take her down and pin her and she'd say, "OK, enough. I'm excited for you to finish this movie!"
I love my family, but they don't understand what it is to be an actor, so an important relationship is with my best friend, a fantastic actress: Jess Weixler. We were roommates at Julliard and now we live 10 blocks from each other. I make an effort because whenever I am having a hard time, I always get a text from her. She is a life saver. Jess and I have been friends for over 10 years. I would never do anything that would get in the way of her getting a part. No-one is going to pit us against each other.
The first time I met Brad Pitt, he was a normal guy on his motorcycle, but he immediately spotted a man hiding with a camera. I felt this sense of fear. I was so unaware people were watching. I see myself as having a different career path. I could be in denial but I don't think I'll ever have to deal with the media craziness that Brad and Angelina do, because Brad is such a handsome movie star and Angelina Jolie is one of the most beautiful women in the world; it's the perfect storm for attention. I don't see that's where I'm headed.
I'm not a secret anymore. I'm now going to be forced down your throats. It gives me anxiety to be honest, because so many nice things are being said; I'm going to drive myself crazy if I try to keep up with that. I want to tell people, "I will disappoint you at some point." Everyone is in a bad film. Everyone will give a bad performance. I want to allow myself the freedom to take risks.
As a little girl, playing games, I would absolutely believe I was a princess. If we were pretending there was a monster in the closet, I would be terrified. When I realized there was a job where you could play all day and get paid for it, I said, "That's my job". I am OK doing off-Broadway for $400 a week, because it's about doing what I love.
I was shooting Zero Dark Thirty (2012) for a long time, most of us are playing real people and my part is awesome. I want to work with people who know what they're talking about and Kathryn Bigelow is an amazing human being. I was shocked by what I discovered while making the film. I love doing all that homework and research. Then I can show up on set and be free. For Jolene (2008), I flew to South Carolina, rented a pickup truck and hung out at Super Walmart so I could hear voices and get to know people who live there. I love to go to a place and find a voice that I like. For The Debt (2010), I spent months researching Josef Mengele, a doctor who performed experiments on inmates at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. For Lawless (2012), I wore undergarments from the 1930s, with metal zippers, to get a feel for the period. For The Help (2011), I hung cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol, in my costume during the party scene when my character appears to be drunk. Every character I play I feel is like a woman I got to meet and learn from getting to hang out with. I see them as their own people. So I think I take something away from everything.
[on Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] I knew the second I read the script and I was learning things, I knew that it was going to be a hot-button issue. Even when we were shooting, there was great care to be as respectful to the story as possible. For me, that was the most important thing: that we tell the right story for history's sake. I'm not allowed to discuss it, which is so bad because I hate keeping secrets. Whenever someone tells me, "I have a secret," I'm like, "Don't tell me," because I'm the worst at keeping secrets. I'm so excited for people to see the film, because it really reminds me of a film from the 70's. There is so much intelligence in the script, and there's a light shone on something that people will be surprised about.
I'm always going to do both theater and film, always. I love theater and I love the ensemble feeling of it. I love the community. I love being in New York. I love the idea of finishing a show and then seeing people from other shows and then all leaving for a late night dinner.
[on making her Broadway debut in The Heiress, a play associated with such formidable women] I don't feel trepidation because what it shows is what an exquisite role Catherine is. There's no way my Catherine will be the same as Olivia de Havilland or Cherry Jones or Jane Alexander. We're such different women with different sensibilities. I don't feel the nervousness of it, because I could never be the wonder that is them and I just have to find who Catherine is to me. I find her so modern. It's shocking to me that this adaptation was written in the 1940s. For her at the end of the play to stand alone and believe it's OK not to be married - for 1940 to have a woman be independent in that way and make decisions without the influence of a man - I find that shocking. Thirty years from now, this story and this play will still be relevant.
[on her Broadway role as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress] It's very relevant, a woman believing she is what the men in her life tells her she is. And it goes from her father to her suitor to finally at the end of the play, she's on her own. Whenever anyone finds out I'm doing The Heiress, they all go, "I love Catherine." And I love [my character] too. When we first meet her, she appears very confident, she tells a funny story, she seems fine. And then when the father comes into the room we see anxiety and social awkwardness set in. And I find it really interesting [that all of that pressure], you see it come out in the way she interacts with people.
It's not always easy to experiment with fashion on the red carpet, because I'm representing myself. I really want to go out there with a Mohawk, but I realize it's a little too much for most people to digest. I had bright orange hair as a child, but it's got darker over the years. I use a shampoo to enhance the color and Moroccan Oil to boost shine. I'd change my hair for a role if I needed to, but I prefer using wigs.
As an actor, you approach the characters from what the script tells you. You don't think about "Well, what do I look like compared to what she looks like?"
I'm not going to be the girl with the private yoga instructor at my house.
Every character I play I feel is like a woman I got to meet and learn from getting to hang out with. I see them as their own people. So I think I take something away from everything.
[when asked what she wants women and men to admire in her] I would like women to admire my differences. don't look like a top model, I'm different: if they would admire this in me, probably they'd feel more comfortable with themselves as well, with their particular traits which make them unique and beautiful. As for men, I would like them to admire my passion. They love femininity, but if you find a partner who loves you for your strength it's the best.
I know people ask why I never am pictured with a man, but my work is being an artist, an actor. It does show, indeed, women don't need a man to define. I define myself.
I want to play all kinds of women in my career. I've done that in my film career, so I want to continue to do that in theater as well.
When you're doing a play, it's basically saying, "Here I am." It's a very vulnerable thing. On film, it's vulnerable, but there's a time delay. With theater, what I love so much is the shared experience between the actor and the audience. You're almost breathing at the same time, like there's shared emotion-but also, with that shared emotion, you feel when they're not with you, and that can be a difficult experience.
[on adjusting to the costumes in The Heiress] I'm a jeans girl, but a blue-jeans way of moving is very different from wearing petticoats, so from day one, I was wearing the shoes, the skirt, the corset. I never really left the rehearsal room. It took so long to put everything on every day, it's like, "Well, I'll just bring my lunch and eat it here."
[on overcoming stage fright] Every night I whisper to myself, "You chose this, Jessica. You chose this. This is what you wanted to do your whole life."
It [2009's Othello] was a very draining experience. When I got back to L.A., I received an e-mail from a director who wanted me to consider another play in New York. I replied, "Thank you, but I will never do theatre again." I wanted to focus my energy elsewhere. It's been my dream to be on Broadway since I was a little girl, but at this point I was so busy, so it seemed crazy to even consider. Then I read the play [The Heiress] and fell in love with the character, but I still wouldn't have done another play had I not felt I was going to be in great hands. Besides his brain, what I love about Moisés Kaufman is that he makes me feel safe and supported. I do my best work with a director who creates a space where I feel the freedom to be both brave and vulnerable. I've been in far more plays than I have in movies and TV shows. I want to keep working in all mediums, I just want to play great characters and work with people I know I'll learn a lot from, but theatre will always be my home.
I used to watch the Tonys every year and I'd record it on my VHS, and then throughout the year I'd watch the dance numbers over and over. It was the closest I could get to seeing a Broadway show. I know. Such a nerd.
For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry. Fashion is the expression of, "This is how I am feeling today."
[on meeting Meryl Streep] I was in the lobby with some friends of mine, and I look over, and I said, "Is that Meryl Streep? And as I said it, she turned around and started walking toward me. That was the moment everything got kind of foggy. She went, "Jessica" and she grabbed my hands and she was saying beautiful things about the play and my performance. Because I was so shocked by it, all I did was I held her hands and went, "Thank you, thank you. It means so much to me that you came." And I walked away.
If I am suddenly this 'festival girl,' it's because of the directors I choose to work with. For me that is everything.
I can model for photos, but at events I'm just not a pose-y girl.
[on her character in Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] You really see the drive and the journey that this woman takes, and you see her unravel.
[on when she was asked if fame would change her] I think I'm more nervous about people around me changing, like in the way they relate to me
I like a more retro look than a lot of the latest designer things I get to wear. But fashion is something I love to explore and I whenever I get to go to the big fashion shows in Paris I feel so much anxiety because I'm so fascinated by the art and creativity that goes into creating beautiful clothes.
Fashion to me is not about "this is the cool brand", or "this is the best silhouette on me." I like fashion where it tells stories each time. I love to show different sides of myself and that's why I love fashion. I love working with designers. It's not about the prettiest dress; it's about being interesting. "What does this dress say?" Fashion to me is like a piece of music or a painting. I like it when it means something.
[on how costumes impact a performance] They're extremely important. In everyday life, the way someone dresses tells you something about who they are. When you're feeling bad, for example, you dress in a particular way. When you're acting, it's really important to try to use all that. The way my characters dress in The Help (2011) or The Tree of Life (2011) already tells you something about who they are.
[on her Yves Saint Laurent campaign] I was pretty nervous by the idea of becoming a brand ambassador, because I really have to believe in something I do. But I have so much love and respect for Mr. Yves Saint Laurent, even though I never met him. His way of seeing women was so modern, unexpected and sensual. When I think for him, I think of Catherine Deneuve wearing a tuxedo an the red carpet. It's an honor to represent a brand like this.
As an actor I want to play different kinds of women and I don't want to be associated with a certain look for each part because I want to be allowed to age. The wonderful thing about [different roles I've had] is that they look so different.
I'm very shy when it comes to guys. I like to be wooed, but I've had to be more outwardly available, I guess.
I never wanted to be a movie star. I wanted to be an actor. I don't really drink, and I've never been to a rave. I used to cut school to read Shakespeare, not to make out in the park.
[on how success has not changed her lifestyle] I used to have a lot of anxiety about how I was going to stay afloat, because as soon as I graduated, I never asked my parents for money. I always supported myself through acting and would make money last a long time. I understand the value of money, and I'm not an impulsive buyer. I bought a new laptop three years ago, and before I bought it, I spent a month thinking about buying it. So my lifestyle hasn't changed, except my anxiety about paying the rent is gone.
[on auditioning for The Help (2011)] It (the auditioning process) had been stretched out for so long, and I thought it was because I wasn't the right look, you know? I didn't look like Celia Foote, so I remember there was a moment when I was like, "I'm not going to go. They clearly don't want me for this part. It's my day off. I shoot all night, so I can't fly to L.A. and then fly back, I just can't do it." But I was talked into going.
[on Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] This film will make news. We all think we know how it ended. We don't, this movie is about how it really ended. It is shocking. When I first read the script, I was blown away by this woman. The sacrifices she made and what she had to do. It's something I still get very emotional about. What happens when you live for this one goal? And then you achieve it. I can relate to those aspects of being in the CIA. For the last three years, my life has been work and only work. I do miss my family. I do feel cut off from my friends. Listen, I know being in the CIA is a lot more important that being an actress, but I do feel some empathy with the loneliness: you give away yourself.
I always find sex scenes embarrassing. But at times they are necessary - I get that. It's a huge compliment when someone says you're attractive, especially when I was such an awkward kid - I was very tomboyish, with very short red hair, running around with cowboy boots on. So when someone tells me I'm a sex symbol I'm like, "what?". But I'll take what I can get. That'll teach all those boys back in junior high. In fact, I hope my very first boyfriend, the guy I dated for one month and who broke up with me at the Valentine's Day Dance - I hope that boy reads this article.
When I leave a film, there's this sadness that I'm not gonna know this person anymore.
I'm scared that I'll be on a talk show and David Letterman is going to whip out a ukulele and make me play, so I'm going to put it out there: I'm not that good. I nearly got into trouble at Claridge's the other night; I was jet-lagged so at 4 a.m. I pulled out my ukulele and started strumming. Suddenly, there was a loud banging on my door. I was too scared to open it, so I called reception to assure them that I had stopped.
I love the feeling of giving myself over to another strong point of view. It's the best kind of trust-the belief that an artist will take care of me while creating something unique.
I love wigs, I love costumes, I love anything that will get me into the character.
[on envisioning she was right for The Tree of Life (2011)] I can't say why, exactly. Back then, I hadn't been getting any auditions for films, so I was doing guest spots on TV shows, and, for some reason, on those shows I got raped a lot. I was always cast as the victim. When I heard about The Tree of Life, I felt like I belonged in that world.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012) will make news. We all think we know how it ended. We don't. And this movie is about how it really ended. It is shocking. When I first read the script, I was blown away by this woman. The sacrifices she made and what she had to do. It's something I still get very emotional about. What happens when you live for this one goal? And then you achieve it.
Brits are usually so mean to your redheads. Why is that? In America it's seen as a good thing. Look at Julia Roberts - she's cool, right? I was working in Thailand and I'd be walking down the street and people - British people - would stop the car and scream, 'ginger!' at me.
[on working with Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life (2011) He didn't have a huge entourage, nothing like that. He just showed up on his motorcycle on the very first day and went, "Hi, I'm Brad." You just heard the rumbling of his bike and he'd appear like James Dean, or Marlon Brando from The Wild One (1953). He was kind, he was generous, he'd never heard of me but he never made me feel less.
[on her character in Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] I never met Maya, because she's an undercover CIA agent - it would not have been a good thing to do. I had the props person print out all of the photographs of the terrorists and I hung them in my room at the hotel. So even when I'd come home from the set, they were always around me. I had to approach [the role] like any other character I've played. questions that I couldn't answer through the research, I had to use my imagination, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal created a character that went along the lines that respected the real woman, she represents this generation of woman, and that was really exciting. As an actor, you spend your whole life trying to be emotional and keeping yourself emotionally open. So, to find [Maya's] humanity within that arc was a great feat that would have been impossible without Kathryn and Mark's leadership.
[on her Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress Motion Picture: Drama for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] Zero Dark Thirty is a film that I am extremely proud of and it's a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I am so thankful for this nomination. I am elated to see our fearless producer Megan Ellison, our brilliant director Kathryn Bigelow, our wonderful screenwriter Mark Boal and this extraordinary film being honored today. I'm so proud and honored to play this exceptional woman.
[her acceptance speech when she won the Golden Globe for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] Thank you so much to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this award. I've wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl and I've worked for a really long time. I've auditioned and struggled and fought and been on the sidelines for years. And to be here now in this moment, it's a beautiful feeling to receive this encouragement and support and thank you so much. I would not be here without my amazing team: Paul, Jack, Hilda, Nicole, Steve, thank you. Thank you to our amazing crew, our incredible cast. Jason Clarke, thank you. To my dear friend, Megan Ellison, Sony, the great great Amy Pascal for protecting our film. Mark Boal for writing a strong, capable, independent woman that stands on her own and to Kathryn Bigelow, my director. I can't help but compare my character of Maya to you. Two powerful, fearless women that allow their expert work to stand before them. You have said that filmmaking for you is not about breaking gender roles, but when you make a film that allows your character to disobey the conventions of Hollywood, you've done more for women in cinema than you take credit for. And last, but definitely not least, I have to thank my grandmother for teaching me to always believe in my dreams and this is an absolute dream come true. Thank you so much.
I really made an effort to not put myself in situations where my private life becomes more interesting than my work.
I was ten years old. When I was this age I was such an ugly duckling: bright orange hair, my freckles. I never really got attention from boys and when you're a redhead all you get is old ladies coming up to you and cooing, not much else. I felt invisible. I remember being at Disneyland and we were waiting to see the parade, with the fireworks, Minnie and Mickey and all that stuff. I remember one dancer, she spotted me in the crowd and walked over. She told me how beautiful I was at a time when I felt hidden she gave me a spark. Disneyland to a kid back then was like the greatest place on earth, with thousands of people there, but I got picked. That girl pointed at me and said, 'There's something about you.'
[on Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] I think a lot of people had their own idea of what the film was, but they had never seen it. It was a bit frustrating for a year, because I had to keep my mouth shut about what I was playing and what this film was, to not be able to defend it and say: 'This is not a propaganda film. It doesn't have a political agenda.' Any subtext that I have, any part of the character's journey, I have to show through my technical dialogue and my transformation in the 10 years, what happens to my face, my hair, how I interact with people. It has to be a more subtle approach. It has to be the kind of acting where you don't see the strings. There was a 10 minute break while I cried. I had to go hide behind a building. I just lost it and started crying. I know I'm playing this woman who's supposed to be, it's her job, to be unemotional, but I still feel things. And I wasn't going to be able to do the scene again without letting out, without having a good cry.
I want to do everything! I want to do crazy villains in comic book movies with accents and scars! I want to do it all. I think I have to calm down and be like: You don't have to do it all, right now. Hopefully, you'll be around for a few years. I never think about what's next, I always just think: What haven't I done yet?
I have a rule. No actors. I have dated an actor before, at Juilliard, but since then, I've only been on a couple of dates with one and I was so freaked out someone was going to take a picture of us, because they were famous. I realized I wanted just to be able to hang out with someone and I didn't want to talk about the business, first of all. I love movies. But I love talking about them like when I was 15 years old. I'm a film fan, but I don't want to talk about auditions or what movie I'm gonna do. I find that so boring. You have to welcome that. Off the record, I could name specifics for you. There are some actors, who are very, very famous, who know what they're doing. They court it. Like Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton. It's something that you woo.
[on actresses needing meatier roles] For a long time I was hearing that studios didn't want to make films with female leads because they didn't think they would make any money. Maybe this is showing a new trend, audiences are interested in everyone's story, not just the story of the few. It's very rare to play a character defined by her work and not her male counterpart. I think it represents this generation of women who are independent and capable and strong and not the product of something else, the girlfriend or the victim of the villain of the piece. It's really exciting to play a woman who's smart and intelligent and who uses her brain.
When someone tells me I'm a sex symbol I'm like, 'What?' But I'll take what I can get. That'll teach all those boys back in junior high school. In fact, I hope my very first boyfriend, the guy I dated for one month and who broke up with me at the Valentine's Day dance, I hope that boy reads this! It's a huge compliment when someone says you're attractive, especially when I was such an awkward kid, I was very tomboyish, with very short red hair, running around with cowboy boots on.
[on her Oscar nomination for Best Leading Actress for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] I think every actor would love to be acknowledged for [their work]. I'm a marathon runner. I want to be working when I'm 80 years old. Every support and encouragement helps you, but I'm a marathon runner. It was a bittersweet Thursday for me. We were on an airplane and then Kathryn Bigelow came over to me and said, "Congratulations, you got nominated for an Oscar," and I wanted to scream, but I was worried I would be duct-taped to my seat by an air marshal. And I said, "What about you?" and she said, "No no, we are celebrating you." It was a difficult moment for me, but the film and Kathryn were recognized with a Best Picture nomination.
It's easier to do an action scene than a love scene. I love fighting. When the camera's not rolling, I'll usually punch some of the actors, just for fun.
I don't work for awards but when you receive support and encouragement, it opens me up more, it helps me be vulnerable.
Fame and money have not been my goals. If they had, then this probably would not have happened, because this all happened from independent films. Not big pay checks. Even The Help (2011) was an independent film. We were all cast before the success of the novel. Thank God, because they would have never ever given me Celia Foote had people known how big it would become.
There were a couple of times when I thought, "Maybe I should dye my hair blonde?" I'm in LA and I'm thinking, "Why can't I get an audition for a film?" Being a redhead and not having very conventionally modern looks, it was confusing for people and they didn't know exactly where to put me. Most of the time, it was, "Why is this taking so long?"
[on playing a punk rocker in Mama (2013)] I took bass lessons for about a month and I learned this song. Then, a week before we shot it I heard that the song was changed. Then I learned that. We shoot it and the camera goes from one band member to the next and then finally to me and the whole song has been played and Andy Muschiettigoes "Cut!" I'm like, "Andy you showed me three seconds playing the bass and I spent five weeks learning how to play." I really got into the music as Annabel and I was listening to a lot of punk music. Now I really want to do a musical.
I will never say my age because I'm an actress, and I want to play different ages.
[on how her life changed after the release of Zero Dark Thirty (2012)] After the screening, when we got home, as soon as I got out of the car, there was another car that pulled up behind and someone got out and said, "Jessica, I'm so sorry, but we couldn't get into the screening", and they had followed me to my house. That's when I'm like, "What's happening?" I mean, they were very nice, but they were strangers and they had followed me for half an hour, tailing my car because they wanted a photograph with me. That was when I realized: "My life is different now". The one thing I've always worried about is that, for me, acting makes me feel connected with society, a part of something bigger than I am; a part of mankind. But they say that sometimes what happens when you receive fame is that you're excluded. And I've been really lucky, because for the last year and a half I haven't been. And now suddenly I'm starting to see a change where people are treating me differently. And I don't want to be treated differently. I still want to relate and have conversations with people, but I don't want the balance to shift, so it becomes about a man in my life. Most actresses are forced to talk about the men in their life and I just don't find that interesting. I'm very shy when it comes to guys. I like to be wooed, but I'd have to be more outwardly available, I guess.
I'm not going to lie, being given free clothes is fantastic. I never used to imagine my wedding dress as a little girl, but I'd always imagined my Oscar dress.
[on her hectic work schedule] It's exhausting but I love the films. I love being on Broadway. I don't have time to go to these Oscar dinners and stuff but perhaps that's for the best. Because I'm on stage, I'm away from the craziness of that kind of campaigning. It's really exciting. It's exciting because last year people were saying, "This is your moment". So last year I kept saying, "I'm going to enjoy this because it's never going to happen again. I am never going to have a year like this again, it's incredible," and here I am this year, thinking, "I am never gonna have another year like this"
I always had this fear of being homeless. Being evicted. Which I don't know why I decided to become an actor. Maybe it's because I grew up without money, so I knew I could live without money. But I always had this thing of, I'm not going to be able to pay my rent.
I have heard things that sometimes people think that I'm boring. And I imagine that probably comes from I don't have a Twitter account where I post pictures of me in a bikini. I don't show a side of my life that, to me, is like for my friends and my family.
I didn't grow up with a lot of money, and we were evicted a couple times when I was a child. One time, I even came home from school and there was someone locking our doors. And he felt super guilty, and he asked me, "Do you want to go in and grab some things?" So that's happened to me a lot growing up.
I love fashion that celebrates a woman's body, that maybe is a throwback to the glamor of old Hollywood; that silhouette but somehow making it modern.
My advice to any woman in a field that has been in the past that was dominated by men, by numbers and by seniority, would be to look at the great examples set by women like Kathryn Bigelow and Maya, the woman I play in this film and, instead of complaining about the numbers not matching -- and of course that's an important issue -- but I've found that if you do really good work, it'll rise to the top. Kathryn Bigelow never talks about the glass ceiling in Hollywood for female directors. She shows up on set, she's an expert at her work, and at the end of the day that's what you know her for. You don't think, "She's a brilliant filmmaker and she's a woman, can you believe it?" I just think she's a brilliant filmmaker.
In the press, I like to be known for my work and not for whom I'm dating or what my favorite ice cream is.
[on awards season] A strange thing happens this time of year. It starts to feel like it's a race. Acting is very different than playing tennis. You don't put two people in a room and we match it out. For me, I feel like I've already won. I never want to lose sight of what I feel right now being in this business and being nominated.
You know when you've worked so hard for something? And you finally get a taste of it? That's how I felt last year. Like: oh my gosh, I'm an actress getting to the point where [Zero Dark Thirty (2012) director] Kathryn Bigelow will call me on my cell phone. You want to grasp it, not let it go. This year's the first time I'm starting to think that I don't need to be so terrified it's going to go away. I don't have to work every single second. It's new - starting to exhale.
I don't accept that as an actress I have to play one personality over and over. Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman - all these great actors are allowed to change what they look like. Women in Hollywood? I've noticed they're not.
If someone tells me "You can't do that", I'm going to try to do it even more. It doesn't mean I'll succeed. But it means I'll fight you.
Being on the sidelines for a long time gave me the opportunity to strengthen myself to the idea of what fame is. I've had time to understand the kind of actor I want to be. Personal life. Age. "Who are you dating?" All of those things get in the way of playing characters.
I wanted to be an actor my whole life and when I was at Juilliard they had a cutting policy. Even if you showed up to all your classes if the teachers thought you weren't good enough they could still cut you. I just wasn't going to let them send me home.
[on Mama (2013)] This is not a cheap horror film, though I should mention that I love cheap horror films. I love all horror films. But sometimes horror relies on nothing but loud noises and false scares and cats jumping out of cupboards. But this one refuses to do that.
I usually cry in the trailer on the last day of filming, when no one else is around except hair and make-up people. I always have a cry.
[when she received the Maui Film Festival Nova Award] As an actor, you're used to so much rejection in your life, so the past two years have been such a gift for me. To be here receiving this acknowledgment from the festival in this incredible environment and to share it with my family, it's a wonderful moment where work and family collide.
With every character, there are things I have in common, and things I disagree with. But, I would never say one of the characters was me. So much of Celia Foote is that heart energy. She is such a cuddle bug, and I'm a little bit of a cuddle bug. With Maya, in a way the character is married to her job, and loves her job. I'm never that extreme, because I have my family and my friends that I make sure I stay in contact with. But, her job consumes her and I can understand that, because I love this job so much.
Since I graduated from college, I've never once had to ask my parents for money, which my dad loves to tell people!
[on her life] My life has gone, you know, a little wonderful and crazy.
[on her confidence] I did not feel like a beautiful woman that people would kill each other for. Jessica - who I am in my personal life - I'm very shy, I feel very awkward, I don't feel like a femme fatale at all.
Acting, for me, is about exploring things I don't understand in myself.
I love playing strong women that don't just serve the male character of the story. When I get a character, I always think: How can we give her a bit of an edge?
I find that the more famous you become the less mysterious you are, the less the audience can believe [an actor is] someone other than their public image. So I like the idea that maybe most people on the street don't recognize me because then I can show up as Celia Foote and people will be completely sidelined by it.
I want to play everything. A lot of times actors are guided to play characters that they've had success with, that the public likes, so you see sometimes they end up playing the same role over and over again. For me, that would be the ultimate boring life.
I'm not a weak person. I try to connect with people. And so if someone around me is suffering, I'm going to feel it. I'm going to take it in and have compassion for them.
Every time I go to a party, I feel so old. Even 10 years ago, or when I was going out in college, I always felt like, "Oh my God, I'm so old." I'm not the crazy, wild girl, so I need to knock back a few drinks in order to let loose and have a good time.
I thrive on fear. Fear actually propels me forward. I am an emotional person. I'm an awkward girl. I get a little shy, and I get nervous a lot. But every time I think I can't do something, I actually want to do it.
There are so many films written for and about men. There's hundreds and hundreds of scripts yet to be produced that are just sitting there. Maybe we should go back and look at those scripts and say: "Which of these characters can we actually change to a female?" That is what I'm actually starting to do. I'm like: "Send me everything where the female character's most important aspect isn't her sex or that she be a sexual trophy."
[on taking her grandmother to her first Oscars as her date] It was wonderful to see it through her eyes. I kept looking over at her, and her mouth was open the whole time. She was so excited, and told me it was the best day of her life. It was really emotional for me to share that with her. It's a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life.
My experience with making movies is that I want to walk away from each role, and each set, having learned something and grown as a person. That's really important for me when choosing a role: What am I going to learn and what am I going to gain from this experience?
In this industry you can set your own privacy. If I go to certain restaurants with my boyfriend I know we're going to get photographed. But when the public is involved in your relationship, they can demand or ask questions because they feel like they have an ownership of it, because you sold it. That means they have a say in your private life.
If I can help create empathy and balance in society, I'm going to do whatever I can to tell stories that subconsciously create that. When I get a script that has the opportunity to create discussion and inspire young girls, I don't want to say no to that ... I just want to contribute.
I don't have an expectation of where am I supposed to be or what am I supposed to do, then I'm not beating myself up. There's more freedom in my life because I just live in the present, I live in the moment like what is interesting to me now, what moves me, what inspires me and that's what I follow. Instead of this like I have to have this and this.... I have no requirements on myself and because of that it makes life very easy.
Nobody knows this about me. I dropped out of high school. I was not a hard worker. I was a terrible student. Eventually I got my adult diploma, but I did not graduate. And it wasn't that I just dropped out and never went back - at the end of the year I had too many absences to graduate. I would cut school and sit in my car, reading Shakespeare. I got to Juilliard and I'd never been around literature like that. It completely opened me up. I thought that I wasn't an intelligent person because I did so poorly [in school]. There are kids out there that aren't doing well in school - and I hope they never think it means they're stupid. It's all about finding where your interest lies and finding what you're good at.
[on equal pay and being supported by co-star, James McAvoy] "I'm going to say something nice about James McAvoy here. Before the #MeToo movement, before Time's Up, before anything like that, James was always a proponent of equal pay. Even when we did 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' [in 2013], he and I were doing the same amount of work, the same everything, and we got equal pay for that movie. ''He's always been a proponent of that. ''He's posted about it on his Instagram before it was the cool thing to do. ''He's an incredible human being.''

Salary (4)

Take Shelter (2011) $100 a day
The Martian (2015) less than $1.75 million
Woman Walks Ahead (2017) $700 .000
It Chapter Two (2019) $2,500,000

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