In Jessica’s Presence

Published by Vogue Arabia (May 2018)

At a first sight, Jessica Chastain is of course known for her long hair, with its distinctive blond color flowing with some warm brown lowlights around her face, thing that enhances her beauty. She has a bright skin that features some attractive freckles while her small grey eyes do not miss any detail. In fact, she looks like one of those beautiful ladies featured in Renaissance art, or even a Botticelli painting. Words fail to explain her beauty…

Our multiple award-winning star and Piaget brand ambassador was met by Vogue Arabia was visiting Dubai for the first time where the jewelry and watches luxury brand was showcasing its latest collection at Art Dubai. It is worthy to note that Piaget’s history is known for its deep commitment, since many years, to support arts in general and cinema in particular. In fact, the luxury brand sponsors the “Independent Spirit Awards” and has also participated at Art Dubai this year for the first time in a row. Piaget’s new collection, the “Sunlight Journey”, for which Chastain was chosen to represent, reminisces the Amalfi coast, an Italian cost well known for its celestial blue gradient water. As for Chastain’s favorite item of the collection, it is a watch shining with its featured diamond and zephyr which she says about: “It looks like this watch comes from another era. However, it is very modern. It is a truly elegant one.

Chastain loves all jewelry pieces. In fact, she owns many unique pieces signed by Piaget. In addition to the aforementioned, she is passionate about oil painting, especially those painted by George Condo, the American contemporary painter. She also likes photographs on which she says: “My favorite photographer is Hiroshi Sugimoto for whom I like the Theaters series“. Moreover, Chastain does not choose her pieces, may them be jewelry or work of arts, due to being influenced by some current. Rather, she, being the artists who set her successful artistic path carefully through her well examined professional choices, believes that must feel that the pieces she chooses match her character and are close to it. She says: “This may be one of the reasons. In fact, when it comes to any work of art of any time, the piece must draw your attention and admiration. You will certainly not buy it and lock it in a dark place. Rather, you will look at it daily. Hence, I think there must be some sort of an emotional interaction between the piece and you.

In sum, her knowledge is reflected through her selection of roles in movies. In fact, she is the actress Hollywood seeks to hire for playing roles that feature a strong-will personality (such as her role in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Miss Sloane”), or for playing roles in science-fiction space movies successfully (such as her role in “Interstellar” and “The Martian”), or even for awakening the consciousness of the recalcitrant heroine (such as her role in “The Help” and “Molly’s Game”). Not only this, but she also is the directors’ favorite star.

“I want women to know they are allowed to be human, that they are allowed to have flaws, that they are allowed being imperfect.”

In fact, the characters she plays are quite different to such an extent that it seems difficult to limit them into one role only. In addition to the aforementioned, Chastain is known to be warm, friendly, open-minded and spontaneous. She adores having fun publically. In sum, she is a woman who found her vocation when reaching forty-one years old.

Chastain reached the cinema industry relatively late in 2011 when she was in her mid-thirties. Then, she impressed Hollywood’s well-known characters who described her as being one of the best actresses of her generation and that, even before her movies were released. When the audience got the chance to watch her featured in movies, with six spectacular movies released in 2011, it was crystal clear that a new star was truly born. Not only this, but she also proved herself as one of the elite stars. After that, she was nominated for Oscars and Golden Globe awards for her role in “The Help” and “Zero Dark Thirty”, a movie for which she won a Golden Globe Award. Chastain has always chosen to play emotionally complex roles and those that do not reflect the view on women that is prevailing within the society. The aforementioned seems to be inherent within her, she also talks about it saying: “When I was a child, I used to watch women featured in movies or in media outlets. These women have done things that do not reflect the view on women that is prevailing within the society. This made me grew more curious and interested. I have watched Sigourney Weaver playing the role of Ripley in a space movie. I have never seen a female character such as this one. And then, I realized that yes! Indeed, women can be the heroine of her story.” Chastain wants to do this in favor of young girls today. This is why she has played the role of a quantum physicist who is saving the world and that of the head of a space mission to Mars.” She says: “I want girls to grow up with these examples in mind as for them to know that such women exist and may be used as role models. I certainly feel responsible upon selecting roles to play.

Things do not revolve around her noble mission aiming at building the future only. In fact, she intentionally looks for impersonating flawed characters as she does not fear playing the dark side of a role perfectly, thing that would allow her to succeed at drawing great attention to the screen. She says: “Even when my character is a hero, I still want people to know the myth suggested through my role: A woman must be the perfect mother, the perfect boss, and the perfect friend… I also want women to know they are allowed to be human, that they are allowed to have flaws, that they are allowed being imperfect. Moreover, when I meet someone who introduces themselves as a perfect person, I feel sorry for them. I feel as if they are hindering the appearance of something honest and real about themselves.” As for “Crimson Peak”, a 2015 gothic romance masterpiece directed by Guillermo del Toro, it featured the darkest role she played. She says: “Lady Lucille Sharpe, the character I played, did not reflect my personality. In fact, she was not only a very nice person, but a very tormented one as well. We spent long hours filming the scenes of the movie. Yet, as this character greatly differed from my true personality, carrying within me all the needed energy daily was somehow frustrating. In “The Help” movie, she “assumed Celia’s character, my most delightful role. We really enjoyed filming this movie and I loved going to Mississippi with all the girls.

Jessica Chastain was born and raised in Sacramento, California, in the United States of America, along with two sisters and two brothers. She grew up poor and always felt as if she does not belong at school. She found herself in performing arts and ended up studying drama at New York’s Juilliard School after obtaining a grant. There, she honed her talent through taking part in producing pays by Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, and Oscar Wilde. Her relationship with her grandmother, who goes with her sometimes to the cinema, is strong. She admires women who resist life’s challenges. This is perhaps why her voice loudly among those supporting #TimesUp campaign that combats sexual harassment. She is also known in Hollywood for speaking openly on women’s rights, as well as women’s representation and empowerment. Moreover, during last year’s edition of Cannes Festival, she criticized one of the jury’s members for the rarity of women’s writers, and was accompanied by Octavia Spencer, her close friend and co-star at “The Help” movie at the Golden Globe Awards in order to talk about this campaign. In this respect, she says: “The problem is not a problem of sexual intolerance only. In fact, the latter is one that is rather easy to address. As for unconscious bias, it is harder to deal with it. And people, even women, are sometimes unaware of the bias they face. Hence, we are expected to shed the light on it, as sunlight is the perfect cleanser. We really need to look into this problem and examine it before we become able to change it.” Chastain insists on the importance of having women use their voice and support one another. She says: “Women have a very strong aspect. They are bound together as sisters. When we support each other, this unity spreads quickly. I am not afraid to use my voice when I hear Oprah Winfrey using hers, or Natalie Portman, or even my grandmother doing so. In fact, I think we will address and solve many problems if each woman understood that doing so is a great thing to do.


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