Jessica Chastain’s new film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, is more a labor of love than a love story. First-time director Ned Benson has essentially created three separate films exploring the deterioration of a relationship from two different perspectives: his and hers. (The combined stories come together in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, out September 12; while the Her and Him versions will be released in October.) Chastain, the film’s lead and producer, is also Benson’s ex and was one of the first people Benson pitched the idea to 10 years ago.
Thanks to Chastain’s Academy Award nomination for Zero Dark Thirty and a slew of other critically acclaimed movies, the project was able to gain momentum — even after the two split.
Ahead, the actress opens up about what went into the project, her love for Isabelle Huppert, and how she’d kill Game of Thrones’ Cersei.
From Andrea: You’ve talked about the dire need for more women in film – i’m curious if you’ve considered producing/directing?
I produced this! If I can champion a filmmaker with a great idea and help get a movie made, then I’m all for it.
From Damaris Nielsen: How did you prepare for your role of playing the beautiful and powerful Eleanor Rigby?
Well, Ned Benson gave me some really great short stories and articles from The New Yorker about families — women, really — who had lost a child and gone through a similar tragedy as Eleanor. That was really helpful for me as I’ve never experienced a tragedy like that. Honestly, because Ned wrote the character for me, the prep I normally have to do on set — getting to know everyone — was minimal. Jess [Weixler] and I have been best friends for 10 years; she’s like a sister. I just adore Isabelle Huppert. I’ve worked with Viola Davis on The Help. Once I knew the tragedy of Eleanor, I then just did moment-to-moment work on set.
From Bella: How was working with your fave Isabelle Huppert? Also which role of hers would you like to try if you could?
She’s amazing. I think she’s the best actress in the world. If you look at her résumé — it seems silly to call an actor brave because firemen and policemen are brave, but there’s something so courageous in completely opening yourself up and putting yourself in vulnerable situations like she does. She’s a great hero and acting teacher of mine. It was a dream come true to work with her. As for what role of hers I’d want to play, it’d definitely be Piano Teacher. But, the thing is, I don’t want to play it because I wouldn’t be as good as her. I was so blown away by her when I saw it for the first time in theaters.
From CaraPaige: Fellow redhead wondering if she prefers to wear a wig rather than dye hair for certain roles. such a talent!
I prefer wigs because it feels like putting the character on and off. This role required a wig because we weren’t shooting in chronological order. There were flashback scenes where Eleanor has long hair, but chops it in modern day. We needed that flexibility. But, as an actor, I like to be able to sit in the makeup chair and watch the character be put on me. Then, at the end of the day, and if it’s some dark character, I like being able to take it off — the makeup, clothes, everything. It’s like a mask. This way I always go home feeling like myself and not bringing the character’s baggage with me.
From Jenn: If you could star in any TV show, what would it be and what kind of character would you like to play on the show?
Game of Thrones. I don’t know what character I would play because I don’t know the books, but I’d want to be some badass fighter — some warrior. I would be the one who would kill Cersei. I’d be the warrior that would put the knife in her.