Chastain, 35, has racked up an impressive number of prizes for her portrayal of the humorless, laser-focused CIA operative Maya, representing, to Chastain, “the fanatical behavior to catch a fanatic,” in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. To date, she’s taken home best actress awards from the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics Association London Film Critics Circle, a Critics Choice award and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. She’s also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, a BAFTA and an Oscar.
“I think the X factor of the character that she plays in this movie is the drive and dedication and tenacity that was staggeringly effective,” says Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, who partnered again with screenwriter Mark Boal after their last Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker. “It just is a testament to her range as an actor and an artist.”