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Jessica Chastain on CIA Agents & Actresses, Sex Symbol Status & Redheads in British GQ

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood November 29, 2012 at 1:20PM

British GQ got Jessica Chastain to strip down for a bedroom-set photo shoot--often the standard for young actresses breaking into the mainstream with sex-symbol status, whether they want to do it or not (in the THR Actresses roundtable the women share stories). But Chastain seems genuinely happy to be playing the part.
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Chastain, GQ

British GQ got Jessica Chastain to strip down for a bedroom-set photo shoot--often the standard for young actresses breaking into the mainstream with sex-symbol status, whether they want to do it or not (in the THR Actresses roundtable the women share horror stories). But Chastain seems genuinely happy to be playing the part. In the accompanying interview, the "Zero Dark Thirty" star talks about growing up a tomboy, why she hopes her first boyfriend reads the article, and the similarity between being a CIA agent and an actress.

On being a sex symbol: "It’s a huge compliment when someone says you’re attractive, especially when I was such an awkward kid – I was very tomboyish, with very short red hair, running around with cowboy boots on. So when someone tells me I’m a sex symbol I’m like, 'what?'.  But I’ll take what I can get. That’ll teach all those boys back in Junior High! In fact, I hope my very first boyfriend, the guy I dated for one month and who broke up with me at the Valentine’s Day Dance – I hope that boy reads this article."

CIA agents and actresses: "I can relate to those aspects of being in the CIA.  For the last three years, my life has been work and only work.  I do miss my family.  I do feel cut off from my friends.  Listen, I know being in the CIA is a lot more important that being an actress, but I do feel some empathy with the loneliness: you give away yourself."

On being a redhead: "You Brits are usually so mean to your redheads. Why is that?  In America it’s seen as a good thing. Look at Julia Roberts – she’s cool, right?  I was working in Thailand and I’d be walking down the street and people – British people – would stop the car and scream, 'ginger!' at me."
 

This article is related to: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty, Headliners, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.