Jessica Chastain is set to go from under-the-radar to A-list, and fast. The 30-year-old actress grabbed headlines and Web buzz with her breakout role opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in Terrence Malick’s Palme D’or winner “Tree of Life.”
The redhead turned heads on the red carpet and on the Web, earning a 500% increase in one-day searches on Yahoo!.
But this is only the beginning: The northern California native is set to appear in movies that will be released later this year, or have yet to be scheduled to open. The talented beauty has been superbusy, but has also suffered from bad luck: Many of her projects have been delayed or have had trouble finding distribution.
One such movie is the adaptation of the book “The Help“, set in the 1960s south with fellow breakout star Emma Stone. There’s also “The Debt,” a Nazi-hunter flick that casts Chastain alongside Helen Mirren. The stage and TV alum will also be on view in the movie “Wilde Salome” with Al Pacino co-starring and directing. The project, yet to be released, is based on the Oscar Wilde play that the two stars appeared in on stage in L.A.
“The Tree of Life” was also supposed to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year, but Malick hadn’t quite finished it.
In fact, Chastain was in not one, but two award-winners at Cannes. The second, “Take Shelter,” snagged the Grand Prize from the “Critics Week” competition, which singled out the psychological thriller from seven contenders. The film, which stars Michael Shannon and is directed by Jeff Nichols, also awaits a distribution date.
The actress got an early start as a dancer at the age of nine and at 13 had joined a local dance troupe. She attended Manhattan’s Juilliard School as a drama major, and received a scholarship from alum Robin Williams. The hardworking actress appeared in “Law and Order: Trial by Jury“, “Veronica Mars,” and “The Story of Blackbeard,” a TV movie.
Her first film role, as the tile character in “Jolene,” earned her the Best Actress award at the Seattle International Film Festival.
When asked by the Wall Street Journal if she was ready for fame, Chastain replied, “I’ve always tried to choose characters who were interesting to me and didn’t really follow the money path.”
True, but having some buzz around her movies hasn’t hurt on the home front. The performer noted, “I am so happy I am in these films now, because before, every time I would go home, my family would say, ‘Hey now, what is it you are doing in L.A.?'”
Brad Pitt gushed of his “Tree of Life” co-star, “There’s real charm and beauty, and she’s really bright, this woman. So I think she’s capable of a lot of things that we’ve yet to see.”
And if everything goes as planned, we’ll be seeing a lot of Jessica Chastain soon.