*Jessica Chastain is the hottest ticket in Hollywood these days. But she’s the same affable and charming individual I interviewed the first time a couple of years ago for “Take Shelter.” This week she was at The Crosby Hotel in New York to talk about her latest movie, “Mama.” The scary supernatural film is a departure from some of the serious dramas Chastain has chosen to star in. Since some dismiss the supernatural genre, The Film Strip asked Chastain why she took on the otherworldly at this juncture in her career. “Not at all,” she conceded.
“I want to do all kinds of films, all kinds of characters. I don’t want to be typed,” said Chastain. “If someone tries to type me, I’m super stubborn and I will do the opposite. Like you know “Tree of Life” is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, that character. It was probably the greatest gift I’d ever been given. But the second I found out people were typing me I was like, ‘I’ll show you. I’ll do the exact opposite of a Terrence Malick. You know I’m going to do a horror film, and I’m going to play the opposite of a good mother.’ As long as I play a woman that has an interesting arc and has something going for her other than the male counterparts, I’m interested. Sometimes in American cinema the woman is there [just] to serve the male role.”
So, Jessica why was it important to play against the maternal type?
I was nervous. I think in the first meeting I had, I said, ‘You know I have a couple concerns. My one major concern is I don’t want to make a movie that says you know women who chose not to have children are wrong. Or you know our purpose is to be mothers because I don’t necessarily think that’s true.’ I do hope to be a mother some day but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen and the other wonderful things will happen. In the first meeting Andy [Muschitti] says, ‘It’s not that Annabel in the movie becomes a mother, she becomes a hero of people,’ and I thought that’s great. That’s a selfish person who rises above it and becomes selfless to become a hero of people. He also said at one point when I said I had a concern about something, instead of saying, ‘Oh let me put you at rest,’ he said, ‘Okay I will tranquilize you now.’ There was a lot of laughing all of us had that first hour and I was like, ‘okay if the short film is this scary in three minutes, the film is good and I said, ok.
How was it playing a dark haired rocker chick?
It was awesome. This script was sent to me right after ‘Tree of Life’ came out, and so ‘Tree of Life’ was at Cannes with ‘Take Shelter.’ And all of a sudden, I started getting all of these scripts sent to me which were really devoted wives and mothers. When this got sent to me, and this couldn’t be further from ‘The Tree of Life,’ I wanted to do the character of Annabel. She’s definitely the reluctant mother, wants nothing to do with children. You know she’s a bassist guitarist in a punk band who’s not even that good that she’ll ever be famous. She’d just be happy going to community college her whole life. Living with her sexy boyfriend in their loft and just hanging out. And then she’s forced to deal with the responsibility of these children. I was really moved by the hero’s journey, becoming a selfless person. I like that in the beginning she’s a bit of a bitch and unlikable.
The kids were great. How was it working with those girls?
Yes. I love those girls. I’d rather hang out with kids than adults any day. I really like them, and I’ve been really lucky with ‘Tree of Life,’ ‘Take Shelter,’ and ‘Coriolanus,’ and this film to have amazing scene partners that are kids. The best thing about these kids is that they’re kids first. They’re not child actors that are trying to be adults. That really kind of disturbs me a bit, and so we had a lot of dance parties. You know that song ‘Dynamite, I throw my hands up in the air.’ Yeah!
What scares you?
I think, probably in real life are sounds in the night. I moved into a new apartment here in New York and my dog always barks when someone comes in and it was like a few weeks ago I was sleeping soundly and he started barking like crazy. I just sat up and I thought someone’s in the apartment. Anything like that, that wakes me up in my sleep. When I was a child, I used to have really, really bad nightmares and so I was one of those kids that would run and leap onto the bed because if I stepped too close something would reach out, grab me and pull me under. Or if I’d wake up in the middle of the night, I would put the covers over my head, and then I would get too hot but I would be afraid to take the covers down because I’d be scared that there’d just be a face there staring at me. I actually had such bad nightmares as a kid that I learned that you get nightmares when your body overheats. So if I have a nightmare now, I usually wake up sweating and it’s like really hot. It’s because it’s your body is protecting you by creating a nightmare to wake you up. And once I realized that, I was like air conditioning on, no need for all these covers on the bed and I was fine.
Next week hot “Games of Throne” actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who play twin brothers Lucas and Jeffrey and renowned Executive Producer Guillermo Del Toro.
Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]