Q&A Why actor Jessica Chastain doesn’t mind flying under the radar.
``whenever someone says they loved high school, I´m like, `really?´´´
You fly under the radar in terms of the media. Did you decide not to court fame early in your career? The great thing about not being famous when you’re 18 or 19 years old is that you have time to sit back and really look at the industry. The people I admire and respect, I didn’t know anything about their personal lives. I knew they were married or had kids, maybe, but I didn’t know what the kids’ names were or what the kids looked like – I’m talking about Cate Blanchett or Isabelle Huppert. And I loved that; I really wanted that for myself. So when I’m not working, I can be with my friends and family and not feel like they’re part of the conversation. I want a separation between my work life and my personal life. When you started out, your younger brother’s friends didn’t know you were an actor. Did they find out? At the end, they started to realise. In fact, he told me recently – I felt so bad for him – that in his last year of high school, people he didn’t know would go up to him and say, “Hey, say hi to Jessica for me!” High school is already difficult enough, but I felt bad [because] he’s trying to see if people are really interested in him or they’re interested in him because he has a sister who is in the industry. How do you look back on high school? High school is terrible! Whenever someone says, “I loved high school!” I’m like, “Really? Hmm…” I hated it. I hated being in classes – I felt like I wasn’t learning anything – so I would sit in my car and read As You Like It. You were a Shakespeare geek? Completely true! It’s so nerdy. I have a key ring from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which my high-school boyfriend gave me. Inscribed on it, it says, “Looking forward to working with you here.” That was my dream, to work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In your new film, Miss Sloane, you play Elizabeth, a ruthless lobbyist who becomes embroiled in the gun- control debate. What did you learn about this contentious issue? In the US, the popular opinion is people want stricter gun regulations, right? But why can’t you get a bill passed? I love that the film explores [that] a politician can’t properly serve the people they represent because their priority is keeping their seat in office. When I went to [Washington] D.C, I saw this firsthand. They go to fundraisers every day, just to get money to maintain their spot. We know you can act, but do you have any hidden talents? I can sleep anywhere. I can sleep on an airplane – which is why I can travel back and forth so much for work. But I’ve also fallen asleep in the bathtub before. It’s a terrible situation, actually! Has the Hollywood diversity debate changed anything? It’s definitely changing. [The debate] has been strong for a year-and-a-half. [But] the danger is to say that it’s fixed. Whenever you have anything like that… like, “OK, I’m on a diet,” and you lose the weight and go, “I’m done!” Then you go back to the way you were before. I think it’s something that you have to keep working on. Miss Sloane is in cinemas on March 2.