Chastain glad luck has changed

Toronto Sun
Published: September 11

This has been an interesting year for Jessica Chastain.

And it’s not over yet.

Chastain is at the film festival to promote two movies: Take Shelter and Coriolanus, just two of the seven movies she has in 2011. Her roles in The Help and The Debt mean she’s in the #1 and #2 box office hits in America right now. As well, she starred in The Tree of Life, which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes this year, and while we’re on that subject, Take Shelter won the Grand Prize in the Critics Week competition at Cannes.

Later this year she’ll star in Wilde Salome opposite Al Pacino and Texas Killing Fields, with Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

It wasn’t always like this.

“For four and half years I’ve been making these films, and nothing was happening,” said the actress yesterday, promoting Take Shelter in interviews at a downtown hotel. She stars in the apocalypse-themed psychological thriller with Michael Shannon. “When I first met (director) Jeff Nichols for Take Shelter, I warned him there was a Chastain curse and told him, ‘If you cast me, the film probably won’t come out for three or four years. You seem like a nice guy so I’m giving you the heads-up.’ It was a joke with my family and friends and they all said I was cursed. And then we got to this year, and it’s the complete opposite.”

The Juilliard grad is enjoying the change. Chastain has a childlike sense of joy and gratitude for her own good fortune.

“I got to be in a room with Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes and see them do Shakespeare,” she said of being in Coriolanus. “In 30 years, I’m going to be able to say, ‘I worked with Vanessa Redgrave!’ This is why I’m an actor.

I’m a fan. I love cinema. I grew up watching Vanessa Redgrave. Ralph Fiennes’ performance in The English Patient inspired me. All these actors created this passion in me to be an actor myself.”

Chastain said she was thrilled to run into Charlotte Rampling and Geoffrey Rush, two actors she very much admires, at the Toronto film festival this week — and stunned to find out they both knew who she is. “You don’t expect the people you admire to see your films,” she said, laughing. “That’s a humbling and beautiful thing.”