Jessica Chastain

Published on Hello! Canada – January 2013
By Veronica Parker

The Hollywood ‘It’ girl and Golden Globes nominee opens up about her famous friends and learning to the live in the limelight.

It’s a golden time for Jessica Chastain, who has spent the past year or so adjusting to her A-list status. Ever since she was a little girl growing up in California, the flame-haired beauty always knew she wanted to act, yet she only became a household name in 2011 – thanks to a blockbuster movie called The Help, and some dazzling fashion choices on the red carpet. This January sees Jessica back in the spotlight as she celebrates a Golden Globe nomination for Zero Dark Thirty, based on the real-life hunt for Osama bin Laden. Here, she talks films, friends and finding her footing in Los Angeles.

Zero Dark Thirty was shrouded nn mystery before it came out. What was it like shooting it?
Pretty tiring. We spent months in India not far from the Pakistan border and that gave us a better sense of what the people involved in the intelligence work would have experienced.

You’re one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood. Have you always been this driven?
Yes! Even at Juilliard [School in New York City], my teachers would tell me to slow down, that I should go out more and have fun. [Laughs]

You have shared the screen with lots of Hollywood legends. When was the last time you were star-struck?
At the Pal Springs Film Festival. I had just said, “I’d love to mee Gary Oldman.” We were both in Lawless but never had any scenes together. I was in the middle of a red-carpet interview and he came over and said some really nice stuff. I was so shocked. I tried to continue the interview, but then the interviewer said, “You have tears in your eyes.” I just started crying.

Has it been tough adjusting to all of the attention that comes with fame?
I’m learning to be a little more comfortable in the limelight. I remember when I was first walking the red carpet in Canes for The Tree of Life, Brad pitt and Sean Peen were on either side of me holding my hand. They told me to relax, smile and enjoy the moment. I’m trying to be more like that – not feel overwhelmed.

You’ve described yourself as shy.
I’ve been that way since I was a little kid. In school, I was tormented because I had pale skin and I was a redhead. That kind of thing leaves its mark on you. I would love to be able to walk into a room full of strangers and be confident and at ease. But I can’t. That’s why I hate bullying. Whenever I see people getting pushed around, I get very angry and I step in to defend people.

You’re currently starring in The Heiress on Broadway. How’s life in the Big Apple?
I love New York. I love meeting other actors and going for late-night dinners after shows. It’s the kind of experience I’ve always dreamed of having. Even as a little girl, I would tell everyone I was going to be an actress. Adults would nod and be polite. But it all came true for me!