Published on Myself (Italia) – December 2012
by Jan Janssen
She brings her granny to the carpet. She cries when they compliment. She’s californian but she can’t swim. But in the tougher movie of the year Kathryn Bigelow wanted her only.
She says she’s still elaborating: “Today on set with actors who yesterday were myths to me”. She swears she is patologically shy: “In Cannes for The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn hold me by hand: calm, smile. But I always become red. I believe I’m the most shy person on a red carpet”. And probably the only californian girl in the world who admits to have never learnt how to swim. However, Jessica Chastain, in her 35, is the actress of the year and she will be on 2013 as well. Time put her on the list of the hundred most influential people of 2012. In the latest two years she did 14 movies. For The Help she was nominated for a Oscar as best not protagonist actress. The Tree of Life won the Palm D’Or in Cannes.
And now she is here in the most waited movie, Zero Dark Thirty (now out in the USA, on screen by 10th January in Italy) by Kathryn Bigelow. The reconstruction of Osama Bin Laden killing, in which Jessica plays a CIA agent. It was due to come out before, but the president elections stopped it. Rebublicans said it would have been a certain victory for Obama.
How did you feel on set among the tension?
“First of all I was astonished. I’m a very tough secret agent, a great role, such unbelieavable she gave it to me. And Bigelow is a legend, the only woman who won an Oscar in directing. We shooted in Chandigarh, in India, to the limit of Pakistan. We read together all the documents on the capture of Bin Laden. You don’t happen all days to find a person involved directly in an event that changed our history so much”.
Is that correct that your brother is now in Iraq?
“Yes, one of my young brothers, he’s a soldier. The other is just 12”.
Any soldier in your family?
“No, my dad is a fireworker. Just after the 11 September I understood the importance of his job, before that I only thought ‘wow dad works with lots of cute guys’. My mom, instead, she has a vegan restaurant. My love for theatre comes from granny: she wanted to be an actress, but they told her ‘get married, and have children’, it was the 50’s. it was her who brought me to the Juilliard tests, the performing art school I did in New York. She also slept with me in the student house. And I brought her with me to the Oscar, I owned her”.
Why did you try for a while not to say your birth date?
“I just wanted to be taken more serious, considering that in Wilde Salomé by Al Pacino I had to be a 15 years old, in The Tree of Life the mother of three guys”.
You have the fame of a hard worker. It bothers you?
“I’m used to it. When I was in Juilliard the teachers told me not to be so serious. I was a lost cause though: if I skipped a lesson, it was cause I was home reading Shakespeare. In my family, thanks to a scolarship, I was the first to go to college. Might be that the reason why I am always restless and shy with actors I admire, especially when it’s the first time I meet them”.
When did this happen, for example?
“With Gary Oldman, when I met him for Lawless. I was at a festival in Palm Springs, and he saw me, he came to me and complimented a lot. He went away and I started to cry”.
No really, you’re exagerating.
“Oh no it is. I’ve always been like this since I was a child. It’s something stronger than me. I can’t enter a room with strangers and be comfortable. On the set I become more comfortable, and calm. Outside I panic. The thing is I waited so much for a great opportunity that when it happened it was all so fast. You model, then some small roles, then all of a sudden they want you. It’s a coincidence that many of my movies came out all together the last year. If I think that time ago I entered hidden to the interviews”.
Do you have a boyfriend?
“My rule is: never to go out with collegues”.
Okay, she doesn’t reply. You have to get used to those questions, you moved to New York to be less under the lights of Los Angeles?
“In New York I went because of the set of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, the story of a couple seen from two points of view, the one of him and the one of her. And, in the meantime, I prepared The Hiress, the play from Henry James, now in Broadway, until 10 february”.
And with Zero Dark Thirty you predict an Oscar?
“Shh. Don’t say it, please”.