Filed Appearances & Events News & Articles The 355

Why Jessica Chastain Founded Freckle Films and Made “The 355” – Variety: Power of Women

When Jessica Chastain received the MVP Award at the 2015 Critics Choice Awards for her performance in “Interstellar,” she spoke up about the lack of roles and stories for women across the industry. During a press conference following her speech, the actor-producer was asked, “What are your plans now on creating inclusivity?” That sparked the idea of founding her production company, Freckle Films.

“I went ‘well, okay, here I go. I need to put my money where my mouth is, and I need to start creating a company that will offer some opportunities for women and also highlight the stories that perhaps have been unheard and invisible,’” she said during a Variety Power of Women: Conversations event, presented by Lifetime and moderated by Kate Aurthur.

Last year, her company produced its first feature film, “The 355,” (now slated to debut in January 2021) that boasts actors including Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger and Chastain.

The project was first introduced to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, when Chastain found herself surrounded by action film posters featuring all-male ensembles. She looked around and said to her manager, “I have longed to work with other actresses. There’s so many people that I admire, but it feels like the industry doesn’t want us in a room together. Why do they never make stories with a group of women?”

So when casting “The 355,” Chastain put together a wish list of women actors she had hoped to collaborate with. “Everyone that I had asked to be a part of it were excited to be a part of it,” she said. “I said ‘the only thing is if you say yes, you’re the owner of the film which means you have to come to Cannes to sell the film’ — and they did.”

Kelly Carmichael, president of production at Freckle Films, explained that the creative process focused on providing opportunities for women actors to build characters they were interested in portraying in a spy film.

“Penélope Cruz, for example, had mentioned to us that she often had gotten stereotyped as this feisty Latina woman, and she wanted to play something else that showed another side of her personality that we haven’t seen her explore on screen,” added Chastain, pointing out that it was important for them to push against such typecasting practices.

Looking to the future, Chastain and Carmichael believe there are many more stories to tell with women actors and creatives. Reflecting on her initiative to produce movies, Chastain encouraged others to act toward the changes they hope to see: “You need to empower yourself, and you need to ask yourself what you can do in any industry. If you feel like there are injustice or there are flaws in a system you’re working in, change it; do what you can. Start making changes and people will follow.”

Source: Variety.com

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Filed Appearances & Events Interviews The 355

New York Comic Con 2020 – The 355 Cast Interview | Entertainment Weekly’s Women Who Kick Ass

Jessica Chastain revealed that The 355 came out of seeing little to no action films featuring women ensembles. After learning about the women involved in international espionage while working on Zero Dark Thirty, the producer and star said she knew a story about women spies was worth telling.

During the New York Comic Con Saturday panel, Chastain joined The 355 co-stars Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Fan Bingbing to talk the impact they hope The 355 will have on audiences and the movie industry.

“My goals and dreams for The 355 is that we just accept the fact that women are awesome and tough and bada**,” Chastain said. “I’m excited for society to start acknowledging what’s happening in our world.”

The 355, directed by Simon Kinberg,  kicks off when a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands. Wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Chastain) will need to join forces with rival badass German agent Marie (Kruger), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Nyong’o) and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Cruz) on a lethal, breakneck mission to retrieve it, while also staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Fan) who is tracking their every move.

While the ideation of The 355 stemmed from her time working on Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain said the actual inspiration for the film’s title itself goes back to the 1860’s. She explained that the series of numbers was actually code for the first woman spy in the American Civil War, a woman who has since gone unnamed and under-appreciated. Given the significance of the numbers, Chastain said she and her co-stars think of the film’s title like a “badge of honor.”

The film, which sees the women face off against each other and eventually their common foes, required amounts of rehearsals and hours of combat training, Kruger said. While training for fight scenes is nothing uncommon for action films, especially those heavily featuring male ensembles, the stars also shared that they had to train to fight in heels and more feminine clothing than men.

Kruger said that working with a cast and crew on a film that centers women made she and her cast mates feel valued. She added that the women were even allowed to bring their children on set, which made production feel like a family. Fan, who said Chastain asked her to join the project shortly after serving on the Cannes jury, said that The 355 was an opportunity to learn from her fellow actresses.

When making a film, Chastain said she often thinks about how 13 year-old girls will feel. Citing The Martian and Interstellar, she said she’s proud to know that young girls can see women represented in impressive career paths and thrive in extraordinary circumstances.

“We all know that when you see examples of it that it’s possible, I wanted to show how important women are in society, especially in the international espionage field,” she said.

Theresa Rebeck and Kinberg wrote the script. The film is produced by Chastain and Kelly Carmichael for Chastain’s Freckle Films and by Kinberg for his Genre Films. Richard Hewitt exec produces. Huayi Brothers has Chinese distribution rights.

The Universal spy film is set to release domestically on Jan. 15.

Source: Deadline.com


You can also read the following articles related to New York Comic Con 2020.

  • EW.com: The women of The 355 break down their action-packed spy thriller at New York Comic Con.
  • Syfy.com: The 355 NYCC panel reveals the thrilling secret significance of the movie’s title.
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Filed Appearances & Events

College reunion! Watch Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Anthony Mackie, and more reminisce

EW reunited the Juilliard Drama School alumni with founding faculty member Moni Yakim, who is the subject of the new documentary, Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy.

What do Oscar Isaac, Kevin Kline, Anthony Mackie, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Urie all have in common?

Besides being great actors, they all studied at Juilliard Drama School under founding faculty member Moni Yakim, who is the subject of the new documentary, Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy, which is now available streaming in virtual cinemas. In honor of the documentary, which was produced by Kali Wilder, Alma Har’el, and Boaz Yakin, EW staged a  virtual school reunion.

We gathered Isaac, Kline, Mackie, Chastain, Urie, Wilder, and Moni Yakim himself to reminisce about their time together at Juilliard, how the lessons they learned from Yakim continue to shape their work daily, and why they still consider him an invaluable resource when trying to hone performances in everything from projects like Inside Llewyn Davis to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I have had a very parasitic relationship with Moni ever since coming out of school where I just any little trouble I have, which are many, I call Moni,” Isaac quipped. “One little thing can ignite Moni’s imagination, the eyes, the observation that you see and that ignites your passion and for me that’s been incredibly important, especially on those bigger movies, because it’s so easy to lose your curiosity in those situations and to take those things for granted and to feel like there’s not room for that.”

Kline summed up why all of the talent involved participated in the documentary and gathered for this roundtable. “I think teachers are, in general, under-celebrated and under-documented and should get a bit of focus now and then, especially when they’ve inspired a generation or two of performers,” he said. “What makes a gifted teacher gifted is curiosity — it’s that they have this gift of inspiring and I don’t know if it’s any more of a conscious effort than acting is for us.”

The reunion also serves as a fundraiser for the Black Arts Institute, which viewers can donate to here. Donations to the Billie Holiday Theatre for the Black Arts Institute supports students from across the country with partial or full scholarships to the program, which in partnership with The Stella Adler Studio of Acting, engages young theater artists annually. The Billie and Stella Adler Studio have joined arms to address voids that are still missing in many mainstream college and university theater programs and training programs: a curriculum and theater canon, a peer group, performance experiences, and administration and faculty that fully reflect the exquisite diversity of students of African descent.

During the roundtable, Yakim spoke specifically to his connections to famous acting teacher Stella Adler, while the others reflected on how to improve equity and diversity in theatrical training, an issue specifically addressed by the Black Arts Institute.

Source: EW.com

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