Jessica Chastain: "They Said I Wasn't Pretty Enough"
Jessica Chastain is not only an acclaimed actress, she's quite beautiful, so I was stunned to hear her tell the TimesTalk audience last night about her shaky reception when she first went on auditions in L.A.
"Many people didn't know what Juilliard was," she said, "or didn't care about my theatrical training.
"I'd hear things like, 'We like Jessica, but she's not pretty enough for that part'.
"You realize, 'What does that mean?' "
And what planet did they crawl out from?
Chastain ended up playing lots of abused women on TV shows, then found that doing a stage version of Salome with Al Pacino opened doors because lots of people in the business came to see it.
Jump ahead to last year, when about 100 of her films opened at once.
"I went from being the most unlucky actress to the luckiest actress," she beamed.
"Some of the films took forever to come out.
"My very first film, Salome [an adaptation of the Pacino production], still hasn't come out yet!
"The Tree of Life had a long editing process.
"The Debt sat on the shelf for a year when Miramax was sold."
"I went to every film festival--with two films in each festival," she related.
"I ended up having every movie in the movie theater," she laughed.
And now she has Lawless, and is coming up in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for bin Laden, and Mama, about a couple tending to two kids who'd been left alone in the forest.
And she's coming to Broadway in The Heiress, in which she's playing an ugly duckling!
Who springs to life!