The Help

Jessica Chastain as: Celia Foote
Directed by: Tate Taylor
Screenplay by: Tate Taylor
Adaptation: The Help (novel) by Kathryn Stockett
Selected Cast: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone, Allison Janney.
Running Time: 146min
Release Date: August 10, 2011
Genre: Drama

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Production Notes

The first announcement from the production came in December 2009, when was announced a production of the film was in the works. Tate Taylor optioned film rights to the book before its publication.

The first casting news came in March 2010, was reported that Stone was attached to play the role of “Skeeter”. Chastain was a pretty unknown back then so we didn’t have announcements over her casting.

Filming began in July 2010 and extended through October. The town of Greenwood, Mississippi, was chosen to portray 1960s-era Jackson, and producer Green said he had expected to shoot “95 percent” of the film there. Parts of the film were also shot in the real-life Jackson, as well as in nearby Clarksdale and Greenville. One of the few locations that existed in 1963 Jackson, the book and the film is Jackson landmark Brent’s Drugs, which dates to 1946. Other locations that can still be found in Jackson include the New Capitol Building and the Mayflower Cafe downtown. Scenes set at the Jackson Journal office were shot in Clarksdale at the building which formerly housed the Clarksdale Press Register for 40 years until April 2010.

The Help earned $169,708,112 in North America and $46,931,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $216,639,112. It received mostly positive reviews, with some of the negative reviews criticized the film for its inability to match the quality of the book. Performances was praised in every single review, with Jessica Chastain receiving her first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She lose the award to her co-star and Octavia Spencer.

One curiosity: Jessica, a vegan, ate soy ice cream melted in the microwave to gain weight for the role of Celia Foote, because she had to be curvy. She also ate vegan chicken in one of the film scenes. “The scene where I was eating fried chicken, they made me vegan fried chicken. It probably [didn’t taste as good] as fried chicken. They did an amazing job. They took a turkey dog and tofurkey and battered it, and deep fried it. I haven’t had meat in so long. I’ve been vegan for five years and vegetarian for 15 years, so if I had had meat, I wouldn’t have been able to do the scene. They all thought I was just chowing down.

The film received a total of 90 award nominations, with 36 wins. Jessica received an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a SAG and a Golden Globes nominations.