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Shooting “Scenes From a Marriage”: ‘I Cried Every Day’

There were days on the shoot for “Scenes From a Marriage,” a five-episode limited series that premieres Sept. 12 on HBO, when Oscar Isaac resented the crew.

The problem wasn’t the crew members themselves, he told me on a video call in March. But the work required of him and his co-star, Jessica Chastain, was so unsparingly intimate — “And difficult!” Chastain added from a neighboring Zoom window — that every time a camera operator or a makeup artist appeared, it felt like an intrusion.

On his other projects, Isaac had felt comfortably distant from the characters and their circumstances — interplanetary intrigue, rogue A.I. But “Scenes” surveys monogamy and parenthood, familiar territory. Sometimes Isaac would film a bedtime scene with his onscreen child (Lily Jane) and then go home and tuck his own child into the same model of bed as the one used on set, accessorized with the same bunny lamp, and not know exactly where art ended and life began.

“It was just a lot,” he said.

Chastain agreed, though she put it more strongly. “I mean, I cried every day for four months,” she said.

Isaac, 42, and Chastain, 44, have known each other since their days at the Juilliard School. And they have channeled two decades of friendship, admiration and a shared and obsessional devotion to craft into what Michael Ellenberg, one of the series’s executive producers, called “five hours of naked, raw performance.” (That nudity is metaphorical, mostly.)

“For me it definitely felt incredibly personal,” Chastain said on the call in the spring, about a month after filming had ended. “That’s why I don’t know if I have another one like this in me. Yeah, I can’t decide that. I can’t even talk about it without. …” She turned away from the screen. (It was one of several times during the call that I felt as if I were intruding, too.)


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Jessica Chastain Believes In Fashion Rebellion

The actress and L’OFFICIEL Fall 2021 global coverstar tells us about her favorite decade in fashion and defying style expectations.


As the coverstar of L’OFFICIEL’s Centennial Issue, Jessica Chastain knows a thing or two about fashion history. In one of her most recent roles, she morphs into the infamous televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, complete with the glitzy, shoulder-padded garb of the 1980s. But her personal favorite era in fashion comes 40 years earlier when the precursor to the ’80s power suit was just beginning to infiltrate women’s fashion. In this exclusive video, the actress shares why she’s attracted to style rebellion and what other changes society has seen because of it.

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Jessica Chastain Covers L’OFFICIEL’s Centennial Issue

Despite the close attention it’s paid on the red carpet, fashion, for a celebrity, is typically fairly disconnected from a star’s real interior world. For the chameleonic actor Jessica Chastain, though, fashion is elemental: a true pleasure that is both a vehicle for self-expression and an opportunity for inward expansion. Fashion is like music, she says one morning this summer. It’s an art that doubles as a tool she can use. “It constantly makes me feel different things,” she says. “It opens up other parts of myself.” It’s this perspective—along with the kind of exquisite bone structure that belongs as much in Old Hollywood as it does new—that made Chastain the natural choice to pose in decades-spanning designs for the Centennial Issue of L’OFFICIEL.

Anniversaries were on her mind, too, when Chastain spoke to the magazine. It was a few days after she’d returned from Cannes, a full 10 years after her debut there with Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. “My career in cinema is a decade old now, which is shocking,” she says, though that’s really only true in the sense that she’s managed to build one so rich and interesting in such a relatively short period of time. If you need an idea of the actor’s range, consider the two projects she has premiering this month: Michael Showalter’s biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye, in which Chastain transformed into the emotive, scandal-plagued evangelist, and Hagai Levi’s present-day reprise of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 two-hander Scenes from a Marriage for HBO, in which the roles of the husband and wife have been flipped.

Chastain speaks with L’OFFICIEL about conquering her fears, her deep feeling for fashion, and what keeps her striving forward—both as a champion of equal rights for women in and out of Hollywood and as an artist.

L’OFFICIEL: I watched the first two episodes of Scenes from a Marriage available to reviewers, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and congratulations on both really tremendous—and incredibly different—projects and performances. What attracts you to a role?

JESSICA CHASTAIN: Well, it depends. Sometimes what attracts me to a role is who I’m working with. Oftentimes it’s if the role is something I’ve never done before and feels challenging. But always what attracts me to a role is feeling like I’m putting something positive out into the world. It may not be a nice person I’m playing, but positive in terms of breaking gender stereotypes or pushing a conversation forward. I always ask myself, “What am I putting out in the world? Am I contributing to society?”


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Jessica Chastain Reaches New Heights

The actress opens up about her upcoming film, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and television series, Scenes from a Marriage.

In 2012, not long after Jessica Chastain wrapped Zero Dark Thirty, a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller about the search for Osama Bin Laden that garnered the 44-year-old actress her second Academy Award nomination, she took a serious look at the Hollywood around her.

“I immediately saw there weren’t a lot of options for women, at least in terms of great characters that are different. Actresses were regulated to a single type,” says Chastain, talking via Zoom while on vacation with friends and family in Italy. Studying acting and repertory theater at Juilliard in New York had given her a wide breadth of choice roles, but, suddenly, she opened her eyes to see that the film world might be “a tad limiting in terms of what people were offering.”

It was around that time that Chastain stumbled on the 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Narrated by RuPaul, it’s about the life of the late Tammy Faye Messner, a Christian TV personality, singer and evangelist often parodied for her marriage to Jim Bakker (who was later imprisoned for fraud and conspiracy), not to mention her over-the-top style, which included heavy makeup and a perpetual tan. Messner died in 2007 of colon cancer.

“I knew about Tammy from what I’d seen on Saturday Night Live, but I actually had never seen her give an interview until I watched the documentary,” Chastain says. “My impression from sketch television was that she cried all the time, she was a crook and always had mascara running down her face.”

But Chastain found herself particularly moved by the film and Messner’s message that “everyone is deserving of love,” she explains. So she called her agent and manager and bought the narrative feature film rights to the documentary herself.


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Why televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker was the hardest role of Jessica Chastain’s career

Jessica Chastain’s whole body was shaking. She’d never been this nervous on a film set — not with the kind of anxiety that gave her trouble breathing.

What am I so afraid of? The thought reverberated in her head. She’d played a superhero so powerful she could rearrange the structure of matter. The ringleader of a high-stakes underground Hollywood poker game. A CIA analyst who took down Osama bin Laden.

But this was Tammy Faye Bakker, the infamous televangelist recognized more for her heavy makeup than the fact that her husband, Jim, stole millions from his own parishioners. To play her, Chastain would put on gobs of mascara and lip liner, adopt a thick Minnesotan accent and belt out songs about loving Jesus.

“I was scared the people were going to make fun of me,” the actor recalled of her on-set jitters. “And there’s going to be a lot to make fun of if I fail because it’s so out there. I’m swinging for the fences here.”

But that was the reality Bakker — who died in 2007 after a long bout with cancer — faced every day. Remembering the ridicule Bakker endured — and ultimately ignored — allowed Chastain to quell her panic: “You have to let go of your ego and wanting to look cool. This is connecting you to her.”

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” out Sept. 17, will mark the culmination of Chastain’s near-decade-long journey to bring Bakker’s story to the big screen. In 2012, while on the press tour for “Zero Dark Thirty,” she was switching through the TV channels in her hotel room when she stumbled across a documentary on Bakker. Chastain had seen the film — directed by Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey in 2000 —- before, but on this night she connected with it on a different level.

So she secured the rights to the doc, which had the same name as the eventual feature film. She had yet to establish her production company, Freckle Films, but still found a home for the project at Fox Searchlight. The studio will debut the film next month at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the 44-year-old Chastain will receive the event’s Tribute Actor Award.

She has another movie playing at the festival — “The Forgiven,” a drama co-starring Ralph Fiennes — and also will appear in an HBO limited-series remake of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes From a Marriage” beginning Sept. 12.

From her home in the countryside of New York, where only birdsong interrupted her speech, Chastain spoke to The Times about playing Bakker.


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Jessica Chastain for Shape Magazine (USA) – January 2021

Strolling the red carpet and appearing on the big screen are just the flashy elements of the job most people see. Behind the scenes, she’s spearheading a movement for equality — and forging her own path to accomplish it all.

Jessica Chastain is a woman of many talents. There’s acting, of course. The two-time Academy Award nominee has starred in over 25 movies, including The Forgiven, which explores the dramatic fallout following a random accident (to be released this year); The Eyes of Tammy Faye, about televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; and The 355, an international spy thriller about female agents trying to retrieve a top-secret weapon, which comes out in early 2022.

But you may not know that Jessica is also a trained chef who loves cooking, a former ballerina who once went on tour, and the founder of a production company, Freckle Films, who has some forward-thinking business ideas. Case in point: For The 355, which she also produced, Jessica, 43, came up with a plan for all the actors to be paid equally (she is a fierce proponent of fair pay) and share in the film’s profits. “A lot of times, our names are used to sell movies, and that’s how the money is raised for them,” Jessica explains. “So I thought, If our names are being sold, then we need to be the owners of the film.”

When she pitched The 355 to her costars Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Fan Bingbing, Jessica told them, “If you do this movie, you’re going to have to agree to sell it, because you will be an owner. We’re going to sell the distribution rights to raise the budget for the film, and then everyone owns a portion of the box office,” she recalls. The actors all agreed, and the film rights quickly sold. “I don’t know if anything like this has been done before, and honestly, I’m a bit shocked I got away with it,” says Jessica. “But hopefully it creates a new model in which artists can own their work.”

That move is classic Jessica — though she doesn’t like to talk about many of the things she does behind the scenes. Like the time she negotiated to get actor Octavia Spencer the same amount of money she herself was making for a film they were working on together.

When it comes to fighting for pay equality, I would rather just do it and not talk about it. I think it’s actually more powerful if I don’t have to explain it.

What she does like to talk about is the important women in her life. During lockdown last year, she was at home for several months with her loved ones. “It was great because my grandma was with me, and I got to spend time with my family,” says Jessica. “My mom has been with us a lot too. But I miss my girlfriends so much. I miss going out to dinner, just the girls. I miss getting a cocktail, sharing secrets, and getting advice from everyone. I’ve really been missing that sense of community.” (Related: How to Beat Loneliness In the Time of Social Distancing)

As she eases back into work life, rewriting her new normal, Jessica shares her strategies for finding joy and calm amid the craziness and making a difference.

Exercising for Her Mind As Well As Her Muscles

“During quarantine, I did [trainer] Isaac Boots’ Torch’d workouts with my grandmother, who is in her 80s. It was such a breath of sanity during that time to do it every morning with my grandma. And she really helped me be accountable. Now that I’m in film rehearsals in New York, I do Isaac’s workout a couple of times a week, and I also do power yoga online twice a week, and that helps clear my head.

Working out gives me confidence. It’s the sense of being proud of myself. The starting point of exercise is always difficult for me — finding the time and quiet space and feeling that I’ve got a million other things I need to do. But once I finish, I immediately feel like a superhero. It’s also a reminder — especially when you’re in a yoga position or holding a plank, and you’re shaking and thinking, I can’t do it! — that honestly, you can get through anything.”

Listening to Her Body

“I became a vegan about 14 years ago. At the time, I was very low energy, and I remember getting sick. I was making one of my first films, in which I had to play different ages of the character’s life, and I wanted to change my body accordingly. So I would gain weight and then lose it really quickly. After that, my body was wrecked. A friend said, ‘You should try this two-week vegan raw-food diet.’ I hated it. The first week, I was so miserable. But by the second week, I had so much energy. When the two weeks were over, I was like, I’m done! I went to a restaurant and ordered risotto and fish. And that night, I felt sick again. I decided that my body was clearly telling me the way it wanted me to eat. I was raw vegan for about nine months. Now I’m just vegan. (Even Lizzo has experimented with the raw vegan diet.)

I love to cook — so much that I went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York in 2012 and took the intensive chef-training program. In the winter I like to make soups and stews and anything roasted. I’m also really into food as medicine. Licorice root tea is my jam during COVID-19, because licorice is really good for your immune system.”

Working to Find Calm and Clarity

“I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this or do anything that’s unhealthy for them, but it’s really important for me to fast one day a week. I do a green-juice fast every Monday. I like to start my week in a quiet place, listening to what’s going on with my mind. It’s a sense of giving myself a moment to be clear and allowing my body to reset. It helps me start the week.” (Related: Lizzo’s Smoothie Cleanse Is Sparking a Conversation About Diet Culture)

Being Passionate About What She Does

The 355 is the term for the group of women who work behind the scenes in intelligence, doing things we didn’t even know were possible. The point of the movie is to celebrate women in espionage. There are some extensive fight scenes in the film, and I wanted the actors to have the opportunity to do it all. Lupita has a really fun fight scene. Diane is so good — she’s tough, riding her motorcycle. Sometimes we get typecast, and I felt it was important to show that this person can do this and this too.

That’s something I’ve thought about in terms of movies I’ve done, like Interstellar, playing the physicist who solves the equation of gravity. Or The Martian, where I was the commander of the mission to Mars. Those images of women in media are incredibly important to me. In the last five years or so, I’ve asked myself, ‘What am I choosing? Am I showing women in a light that is different from what has been shown? How can I move the conversation forward?’ I was doing it in particular for young girls. But it’s important to do it for young boys as well. Because boys and men should be comfortable seeing women in these roles. Otherwise, we’re denying them the realization that the feminine is powerful and strong.”

Finding a Way to Spur Change

“I want to use whatever platform I’m given to amplify someone who doesn’t have a platform. I’ve always felt it was irresponsible to allow another person to be ignored, bullied, or unheard. I don’t want to live in a world where something like that is okay.

I started out in acting by choosing projects that let me explore experiences I wanted to have personally, or those that would help me grow as an artist. Then I felt that I had to be more socially responsible with the projects I chose. That doesn’t mean all the movies are great or even good, but it does mean that I’m trying to put images out there that challenge a preconceived notion or system or a stereotype of what a woman is.

That’s how I have been approaching any kind of activism: doing it rather than wishing it. You can talk about something; you can wish it to happen. But at a certain point, what can you do that actually shifts the conversation? For me, it’s about the action of doing.”

Source: Shape.com


Update: January 17.

I just added the scans from Shape magazine. Be sure to check out the photo gallery to enjoy.

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Filed Interviews Magazine Scans The 355

The 355: How Jessica Chastain Created A New Cinematic Spy Gang

The old adage goes, if you want a thing done well, do it yourself. That’s the approach Jessica Chastain has taken with The 355 – an all-new spy team movie that sees her unite with the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, and Fan Bingbing in the name of international espionage. Except, the concept of an all-female spy team wasn’t something Chastain has seen done badly, per se, more that it hadn’t really been done properly. While former X-Men boss Simon Kinberg is director and co-writer on The 355, one of the driving forces behind the project has been Chastain herself, working behind the scenes as a producer, as well as placing CIA agent Mason ‘Mace’ Brown on screen.

“Instead of waiting for studios to do it, I think we have to take matters into our own hands,” she tells Empire in the new issue. “I thought, ‘What if I call a bunch of incredible actresses who I have always wanted to work with, and we all show up at Cannes together to raise the financing for the picture?’ So that’s what we did.”

With the aforementioned roster of co-stars, The 355 looks set to introduce a global spy team in which each member brings something different to the table. “I grew up in an era of spy films that felt really nationalistic, really insular,” Chastain explains. “I want to move away from nationalism. [In espionage] it’s a benefit to be diverse. Everyone’s uniqueness is their superpower. That’s why we chose the story we chose and the actors we chose.”

Read the full story about how Chastain willed The 355 into being by clicking here.

Source: Empireonline.com

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Jessica Chastain at Late Night with Seth Meyers

Jessica Chastain explains what it is like to quarantine with her grandmother, discusses the inspiration behind her female-centered new film The 355 and talks about what it was like filming during the pandemic.

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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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Conversations at Home with Moni Yakim & Jessica Chastain

A Q&A with Moni Yakim and Jessica Chastain on Moni’s work as a movement instructor at Juilliard where he is a founding faculty member.

Moni Yakim has taught movement at Juilliard since 1968. A new film, or rather a documentary, titled “Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy” captures his impact on scores of actors. (Available via First Run Features)

“He’s not a coddler. He demands 100 percent of you,” says Jessica Chastain.

More details can be found here: Nytimes.com

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