Jessica Chastain On How The 355 Reframes Female Spies In Film

Jessica Chastain is hard to pin down. Her filmography so far includes sci-fi (Interstellar), drama (Scenes From A Marriage), thrillers (Zero Dark Thirty) and horror (Mama) – but with last year’s Ava and upcoming film The 355, she’s carving out a corner for herself as an action heroine.

A stylish spy movie with a stellar cast that also includes Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz and Sebastian Stan, The 355 takes inspiration from the code name of one of the first female spies for the United States during the American Revolution. It’s a passion project for Chastain – she pitched the idea to Simon Kinberg, after working with him on X-Men: Dark Phoenix, who became both writer and director for the project.

For Chastain, this was an opportunity to contribute something new to the female-led spy film canon. “I feel like the film industry has really got female spies wrong,” she tells Empire. “They’ve portrayed them as honeypots, and that’s not the reality of the situation. Women weren’t being used for their bodies, they were being used for their minds, which is a more interesting concept.”

The search for more challenging, expansive female roles could be, it seems, part of the reason for her genre-spanning career. “In the past seven years, I’ve really looked at the projects I’ve joined and the parts that I’ve played in terms of, ‘What difference am I making?’” she says. “‘How can I shape a conversation?’ I never really had the dream of being an action hero at all, but the reality is I’m excited to have 13-year-old girls and 13-year-old boys see women in these roles. It’s very important for society. We’ve moved against the status quo, and we’re creating our own narrative for it. This film is, in some sense, a political act.”


“Box Office? I Don’t Care. I Did My Job”: Jennifer Hudson, Kristen Stewart, Tessa Thompson and the THR Actress Roundtable

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.”


Jessica Chastain For The Hollywood Reporter

Jessica is on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter November issue with a brand new photoshoot by Victoria Will. Enjoy the photos in the gallery!

Magazine Scans

I’ve updated the photo gallery with scans from L’Officiel magazine (September issue) and DuJour (fall issue). Enjoy!

Jessica Chastain For Vogue China

Jessica is gonna be in the December issue of Vogue China, the magazine feature a new photoshoot by Ben Hassett.

Jessica Chastain + Oscar Isaac Are So Close, They Know Each Other’s Audition Horror Stories

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac go way back—to the halls of the Juilliard School of Drama, in fact. “We read each other’s minds,” says Chastain, while Isaac nods solemnly. When asked for their worst audition horror stories, she begins reciting his without hesitation. (It involved Josh Brolin, he reveals. “I can’t believe you said his name,” she laughs.)

Since becoming two of the hardest-working stars in Hollywood, Chastain and Isaac have drawn on their rapport to reunite onscreen, first in 2014’s “A Most Violent Year,” and now, leading and executive producing HBO’s critical hit “Scenes From a Marriage,” Hagai Levi’s updated adaptation of the famous Ingmar Bergman limited series. Chastain also leads this year’s Searchlight Pictures hit “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which she produced with her company Freckle Films; Isaac recently starred in both Warner Bros.’ “Dune” and Focus Features’ Gotham Award–nominated “The Card Counter.” Continue reading

Scenes From A Marriage: Screen Captures

Be sure to visit the gallery! I have added HQ screen captures of all 5 episodes of the HBO series “Scenes From a Marriage”. I’ve also added some promotional stills and captures of a bonus video from the first episode. Enjoy!

Film Independent: “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” Screening

On Saturday, October 16, Jessica attended Film Independent‘s screening and press conference of “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” at Harmony Gold in Los Angeles, California. Enjoy the new photos in the gallery!

The View

Jessica was a guest at The View with Oscar Isaac to talk about the project they did together for HBO “Scenes From a Marriage”. Be sure to watch the interview below. You can also enjoy some photos in the gallery that were taken of Jessica outside the studios.

16th Rome Film Fest: The Eyes Of Tammy Faye

Today Jessica has had a busy day in Rome, Italy! During the 16th Rome Film Fest she attended the photocall of “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye”, then the press conference, then the premiere and to end the day, the Festival Inauguration Dinner. Enjoy all the photos in the gallery!

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