Jessica Chastain, Kirsten Dunst and Emilia Jones also join the discussion, sharing and swapping advice on industry anxieties (COVID or otherwise), the moment when success seemed furthest away, and the head of state they all admire.
“Welcome to the industry!” joked Jessica Chastain and Kristen Stewart to their younger cohort Emilia Jones as this year’s six participants on The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable commiserated about overlooked labors of love (“Is anybody ever going to watch it?”), the degree to which fear drives their decisions (Jennifer Hudson and Kirsten Dunst say no, Tessa Thompson and Stewart say no longer) and navigating COVID-19 to give some of the year’s most acclaimed performances.
Convening at THR‘s headquarters in late October were: Chastain, star and producer of Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, in which she resurrects the infamous televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; Dunst, who brings to life a 1920s remarried mother tormented by her brother-in-law in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog; Hudson, who channels Aretha Franklin in Liesl Tommy’s biopic Respect; Jones, who portrays a hearing child of deaf parents in Sian Heder’s CODA; Stewart, who inhabits Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s Spencer; and Thompson, who plays a 1920s Harlem housewife reconnecting with an old friend passing as white in Rebecca Hall’s Passing.
At the gathering, old friends Stewart and Dunst embraced while everyone exuded gladness to be communing in person. As Dunst put it, after nearly two years of living and working in a pandemic, it is a time to be appreciative of things more important than movies. “How do you define success? Your grandparents are alive,” she says with a wry laugh. “It’s a weird time.”
We are sitting down at a time when you’re each receiving widespread acclaim for your work, a time that must feel like a professional high point for each of you. Meanwhile, many tuning in to this conversation dream of a moment like this but feel it’s very far away. What, for each of you, was the moment when this seemed furthest away? And did you ever consider not continuing down this path?
JESSICA CHASTAIN No, because I grew up very poor. I think that’s a great thing, because I never had parents who were like, “You need to be a doctor!” It was just kind of like, “Whatever you want to do, go for it.” When I was in high school, I dreamed about being in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, working in the repertory company, so this is beyond! As long as I could pay my rent and had food, I was happy. I never really had a moment of, “I’m going to give it all up.”