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Jessica Chastain: Why Is This Woman Cheerful? (Video Interview)

by Caryn James
September 23, 2011 3:00 AM
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No actor wants to have seven movies released in one year, not if they’ve ever heard the word “overexposed.” Delayed releases and weird timing have left Jessica Chastain in just that position, but at least she gets to demonstrate her range.

First came her apparently-out-of-nowhere leading role in Terrence Malick’s quiet, cerebral Tree of Life, then her nearly unrecognizable turn as the brash, friendly Southerner Celia Foote in The Help. As an Israeli agent hunting old Nazis in her current thriller The Debt, she is a brilliant mirror-image as the younger version of Helen Mirren’s character.

But one of her strongest movies has a much lower profile: writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, a film as powerful and understated as its premise is outlandish. Chastain plays a wife and mother whose husband, played by Michael Shannon, hides a huge secret: he’s seeing signs of the apocalypse, worried that he’s losing his mind (either way, there’s trouble).

In our video chat, Chastain talks about acting without words for Malick and Nichols, and about how she got Shannon and Nichols to pay attention to her on set.

She is cheerfully exuberant, and why not: coming up are Texas Killing Fields with Sam Worthington, Wilde Salome with Al Pacino, Coriolanus with Ralph Fiennes, and a career likely to last after the “It Girl” buzz wears off.

Take Shelter opens on Sept 30. Check back for my video interviews with Michael Shannon and Jeff Nichols.

Video edited by TAYLOR LEVY.

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