It was, all things considered, a leap of faith. Two years ago, Jessica Chastain, fresh off her Oscar nomination for The Help, and James McAvoy, just after the release of X-Men: First Class, signed on to a sprawling New York love story helmed by a first-time director by the name of Ned Benson. Now, Benson was a longtime friend of Chastain’s, but still, his filmmaking chops were unproven, to say the least.
The end result is The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby—a 3-hour-plus story of Eleanor Rigby (Chastain) and Conor Ludlow (McAvoy), a young, married couple in New York who become estranged following the death of their infant child, and Eleanor’s subsequent suicide attempt. The film is told from the individual P.O.V.’s of each character, as Eleanor tries to reacclimate to the world by taking classes with a Cooper Union professor (Viola Davis) and receives advice from her concerned parents (Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt), while Conor tries to take his mind off things by diving headfirst into his struggling restaurant, all the while pining for Eleanor and trying to win her back.
And, in classic Weinstein Co. fashion, the film has a unique release strategy, with the compressed two-hour cut of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them opening Sept. 12, followed by the individual films The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her, opening Oct. 10, for three films total. I had the pleasure of seeing the full, 3+ hour cut, and it’s a gripping portrait of the struggle inherent in the loss of a great love.
Jessica did a great interview to The Guardian, specially to promote Salome/Wilde Salome which is going to screen in a double-bill on September 21 at the BFI Southbank in London(For participating cinemas and to buy tickets, visit cinestage.co.uk/salome). Check it:
This autumn belongs to Jessica Chastain, who stars in four of the season’s Oscar contenders, directed by the likes of Al Pacino, Guillermo Del Toro and Christopher Nolan. But what she really wants is a cape
Jessica Chastain would like a table at the back. She’s on a tight schedule, and in 10 minutes she’ll need to take a call to discuss “an issue” with “a studio”. “I’m not happy with the way a distribution plan is going,” she says, not rattled, just frank – happy, even. For another actor, such a call might be a windmill-tilt, but Chastain’s knack for picking prestige projects indicates a star with clout.
She has been on an almost flawless run (she pulled out of 2013’s Diana biopic) since 2011, AKA The Year of Jessica Chastain, when audiences saw her in The Help, Take Shelter, The Debt, Coriolanus and The Tree of Life. That was topped by a weekend in January 2013 when she became the first female actor in half a century to star in both the No 1 and No 2 movies at the US box office (Mama and Zero Dark Thirty). That same month, she landed her second Oscar nomination in as many years. This machine-like – and on the face of it rather frightening – rate of productivity was in fact an accident: projects that had been shot years apart ended up getting released back-to-back. Though she will admit to a certain work ethic. “I feel like I’m being drawn in so many directions,” she says. “I make so many films.”
The premiere of ‘Miss Julie’ is currently happening in Toronto, and you can see now the first pictures of Jessica looking gorgeous in Dior:
Jessica arrived yesterday in Toronto, to promote Miss Julie, and attended the InStyle’s annual Toronto Film Festival party with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I have a few pictures of her, looking amazing, in our galleryg:
The Oscar-nominated actress and her director, Ned Benson, tell TheWrap about final edits to the acclaimed film
When it was first suggested that the theatrical release of the unique, twin-experience of “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and Her” might require a distillation of two complementing films into a more traditional single narrative release, Jessica Chastain was less than pleased.
“I was very upset,” she remembers, offering as blunt a statement as possible through her perpetual, off-camera smile. “For me, it was absolute agony. Torture, just the most miserable experience, the idea that we were combining both of the films.”
“That is all honesty,” Chastain insists. “I was completely shocked and scared because Cassandra [Kulukundis], Ned [Benson], Jess [Weixler], and James [McAvoy], we all went into this project knowing and loving that it would be Him and Her, the male and female versions, and fighting to get it made as that. We loved the reception we got in Toronto, so then I was confused, like why is there talk about another version?”