Jessica Michelle Chastain (born March 24, 1977)[2][3] is an American actress. Chastain played guest roles in several television shows before making her feature film debut in the 2008 independent film Jolene. In 2011, she gained wide public recognition for her starring roles in seven film releases; her performance in The Help was particularly well received and she earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, as well as Golden GlobeScreen Actors Guild Award and BAFTAnominations in the same category. For her lead performance in the controversial 2012 military thriller film Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain received wide critical acclaim and won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and received an Academy Awardnomination for Best Actress.

In 2012, Time magazine featured her as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World".[4] Chastain's performances in Zero Dark Thirty and in the 2013 horror filmMama led film critic Richard Roeper to describe her as "one of the finest actors of her generation".[5]


 [hide*1 Early life and education

Early life and education[edit]Edit

Chastain was born in Sacramento, California. She was raised by her mother, Jerri, a vegan chef, and her stepfather, a fireman. Chastain has two brothers and two sisters.[6][7][8] She is close to her grandmother Marilyn, who attended the Oscars with her in 2012 and 2013.[9][10][11]

She graduated from El Camino High School in Sacramento in 1995[12][13] and attended Sacramento City College,[13] where she was a member of the debate team (1996–1997).[14] In 1998, she appeared as Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet staged by TheatreWorks,[15] a professional theater company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chastain then attended the Juilliard Schoolin New York City[16] as a member of the Drama Division's Group 32 (1999–2003), which also included Michael Urie and Jess Weixler.[17] The funding which made it possible for her to attend was provided through a scholarship by Robin Williams. She was an active participant in the drama department and starred in several theatrical productions and student film projects. She graduated from Juilliard with a B.F.A. degree in 2003.[18]



Shortly before her drama school graduation, Chastain attended a showcase for final-year students in Los Angeles, and was promptly signed to a holding deal by television producer John Wells.[19] She relocated to California, took up residence in Venice Beach, and started auditioning for jobs, and was discovered by talent agent Hylda Queally.[20] Facing early difficulty in even getting auditions for roles, she recalled that "being a redhead and not having very conventionally modern looks, it was confusing for people and they didn't know exactly where to put me."[21] In her television debut, The WB network's pilot remake of the 1960s gothicsoap opera Dark Shadows, she portrayed Carolyn Stoddard, who was originated by Nancy Barrett.[22] Directed by P. J. Hogan, the pilot did not live up to the network's expectations and the series was eventually not picked up for broadcast.[22] Chastain later appeared in a guest stint on the medical drama series ER, which marked a professional watershed as she subsequently found a niche playing eccentric characters in television.[21] "I did a job on ER as a psychotic woman, and after that got a lot of jobs in TV where I wasn't the normal one," she later said. "I played a lot of girls who had something off. Maybe they'd been the victim of some horrible accident. Or they were crazy."[19]

From 2004 to 2006, she also appeared in television series such as Veronica MarsClose to Home, and Law & Order: Trial By Jury. While working at Playwrights Horizons, she was recommended by her director to Al Pacino, who was looking for an unknown actress to star in his new production of Salome and hired her on the spot. The success of the play at Wadsworth Theatre, which sold out after getting positive reviews, helped bring her to the attention of several casting directors.[19]

In 2008, she made her film debut as the title role in Dan Ireland's drama film Jolene which was based on the short story Jolene: A Life by E. L. Doctorow, itself inspired by Dolly Parton's song "Jolene", and follows her life over the course of ten years, as an abused 15-year-old foster child up until her life as a 25-year-old woman.[23] While the drama received mixed reviews, Chastain was generally praised for her performance, withNew York Observer noting that she "not only holds her own corner of every scene, she's the only thing you want to watch."[24] It was later released in the United States on October 29, 2010 and Chastain won theSeattle International Film Festival Award for Best Actress.

In 2009, Chastain appeared in Stolen, a mysterythriller film directed by Anders Anderson. It was universally panned by critics and not released as video on demand and in a limited theatrical release until March 2010.[25] The same year, she finished work on the British period drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot, playing Mary Debenham in a full-length adaption of Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express.[26]


[1][2]Chastain at the Berlin Film Festivalin 2011

In 2011, Chastain showed a wide variety in her roles, including: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life and the crime thriller Texas Killing Fields.[27][28]

Chastain's biggest commercial success of 2011 was The Help, which was based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name. Her performance received praise from critics and gave her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, which she lost to her co-star Octavia Spencer. Chastain continued to receive positive reviews for her performance in the 2011 film Take Shelter playing the wife of a small town man plagued by apocalyptic visions.[29]

In John Madden's drama-thriller film The Debt, she portrayed a young Mossad agent sent to East Berlin in the mid-1960s to capture a former Nazi doctor who carried out medical experiments in concentration camps.[30] Chastain shared her role with Helen Mirren, both actresses portraying the character at different phases of her life.[30] The actresses worked together before shooting started, creating a consistent voice and mannerisms for their character, while Chastain also took classes in krav maga and German, and studied books about Josef Mengele and Mossad history to prepare herself for the film.[30] Premiering at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010, the film was released on August 31, 2011 and Chastain received positive reviews from critics and viewers.

On November 29, 2011, Chastain was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in The HelpTake Shelter and The Tree of Life,[31][32] as well as gaining an Independent Spirit Award nomination the same day for her performance in Take Shelter.[33] On December 1, 2011, she received aSatellite Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Mrs. O'Brien in The Tree of Life.[34] Chastain went on to win the award and many other honors from critics, including the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress.[35][36]


[3][4]Chastain at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Chastain played Virgilia in the adaptation and Ralph Fiennes's directorial debut, Coriolanus, which was released in January 2012 and was met with generally positive reviews from the critics.[37] In the animated comedy film, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, she voiced Gia the jaguar with an Italian accent, the film was released on June 8, 2012 and received generally positive reviews from critics.[38]

Chastain played Salomé in a film adaptation of Wilde Salomé with Al Pacino and Maggie Beauford in John Hillcoat's prohibition era drama, Lawless.[39]

In April 2012, Chastain entered the list of Time 100 most influential people of the world.[4] She was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2012.[40] The same month, Chastain was named the ambassador of the new Yves Saint Laurent fragrance, called Manifesto.[41]

In 2012, she appeared in Tar as C.K. Williams' mother. She reunited with Terrence Malick in the romantic drama film To the Wonder, but her performance was later cut from the film.[42] In early 2012, Chastain was reported to star in the action films Oblivion and Iron Man 3, but dropped out.[43][44] Chastain was also offered for the role of Princess Dianain the upcoming biopic film Diana but dropped out and was replaced by Naomi Watts. In Kathryn Bigelow's action thriller film Zero Dark Thirty, she played Maya and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.[45] In 2013, she played the lead role, alongside Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, in Andrés Muschietti's horror film Mama (2013), based on Muschietti's 2008 Spanish-language short film, Mamá.[46] With the release of Zero Dark Thirty and Mama, Chastain became the first woman in 50 years to have the leading role in the top two films at the box office.[47] Also in 2012, Chastain played Catherine Sloper in her Broadway debut and a limited-run revival of The Heiress which ran on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre from November 1, 2012 to February 9, 2013, the original final performance having been canceled so she could attend the BAFTAs.[48]

In 2013, it was announced that Chastain played the female lead and title character in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby with James McAvoy, about a two-part drama told from his and her perspectives, and was released.[49] She will also play the lead and title role in Miss Julie, a film adaptation of August Strindberg's play, being directed by Liv Ullmann.[50] She will star in the feature film adaptation of The Zookeeper's Wife, directed by Niki Caro.[51] Chastain will appear with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathawayin Interstellar, the next film to be directed by Christopher Nolan.[52]

On July 16, 2013, Chastain was cast in J. C. Chandor's film, A Most Violent Year.[53]

In the fall of 2013 it was announced that Chastain would star in Guillermo Del Toro's horror film titled Crimson Peak alongside Mia WasikowskaTom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam. The film is set to start shooting in February 2014 with an April 2015 release date.[54][55][56][57]

Personal life[edit]Edit

Chastain is a vegan.[58] As of January 2013, she lives in NoHo, a neighborhood in Manhattan, with her dog Chaplin, a three-legged rescue dog.[59] As of 2013, she is in a relationship with Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, an Italian-born executive for French fashion brand Moncler.[60]


[5][6]Chastain at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival

Feature films
Year Title Role Notes
2008 Jolene Jolene
2009 Stolen Sally Ann
2011 Take Shelter Samantha LaForche
2011 Coriolanus Virgilia
2011 The Tree of Life Mrs. O'Brien
2011 The Help Celia Foote
2011 The Debt Young Rachel Singer
2011 Wilde Salome Salome
2011 Texas Killing Fields Detective Pam Stall
2012 Lawless Maggie Beauford
2012 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Gia The Jaguar Voice
2012 Tar Mrs. Williams
2012 Zero Dark Thirty Maya
2013 Mama Annabel
2013 Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby Broken into two films: Him and Her; also producer
2014 Miss Julie Miss Julie Post-production
2014 Interstellar Post-production
2014 A Most Violent Year Filming
2015 Crimson Peak Lady Lucille Sharpe Filming
Television shows
Year Title Role Notes
2004 ER Dahlia Taslitz Episode: "Forgive and Forget"
2004 Veronica Mars Sarah Williams Episode: "The Girl Next Door"
2004 Dark Shadows Carolyn Stoddard Unaired Pilot
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Assistant District Attorney Sigrun Borg 3 episodes
2006 Close to Home Casey Wirth Episode: "The Rapist Next Door"
2006 The Evidence Laura Green Episode: "Pilot"
2006 Blackbeard Charlotte Ormand Movie
2007 Journeyman Tanna Bloom Episode: "Friendly Skies"
2010 Agatha Christie's Poirot Mary Debenham Episode: "Murder on the Orient Express"


Year Title Role Theater
2004 Rodney's Wife Lee Playwrights Horizons
2006 Salome Salome Wadsworth Theatre
2009 Othello Desdemona The Public Theatre
2012 The Heiress Catherine Sloper Walter Kerr Theatre
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