MEET MISS SLOANE

Jes­sica Chas­tain ex­plains why her pill-pop­ping lob­by­ist is the hero we need right now

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS HE­LEN O’HARA

JES­SICA CHAS­TAIN’S LAT­EST char­ac­ter, El­iz­a­beth Sloane, is hyper-com­pet­i­tive. “If Sloane was a man we’d be like, ‘I know this guy,’” says Chas­tain. “He’s gonna get things done, he’s the rebel, he’s the rene­gade. But we don’t see a woman in this kind of role. Some­one asked me yes­ter­day, is that be­cause women aren’t like this? I just think that for some rea­son our in­dus­try and our me­dia hasn’t shown women that way.” The pro­tag­o­nist of John Mad­den’s Miss

Sloane is a Wash­ing­ton DC lob­by­ist for right-wing trade ini­tia­tives who ar­mours her­self with high fash­ion, higher heels and lay­ered, Machi­avel­lian plans. Her look is based on one of the “for­mi­da­ble” real lob­by­ists Chas­tain met (“She was so done it put me off-guard,” she re­calls of one), but Sloane’s drug-abus­ing, es­cort-us­ing con­trol freak­ery is all her own work. She’s of­fered a job by Mark Strong’s ide­al­ist to fight for gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion and ac­cepts, though it’s not clear she’s a true be­liever.

For Chas­tain, it is a story whose time has come: “At first, I thought it would be in­ter­est­ing be­cause of the gun vi­o­lence in the United States.” But the re­cent US Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion made the char­ac­ter even more rel­e­vant. “Af­ter the first de­bate the big crit­i­cism against Hil­lary Clin­ton was that she was over-pre­pared, which I’ve never heard any­one say about a man. I think we as a so­ci­ety have dif­fi­culty with fe­male am­bi­tion and women who don’t apol­o­gise for know­ing what they’re talk­ing about. Peo­ple know I’m pas­sion­ate about in­ter­est­ing roles for women, [yet] I still some­times get scripts from ac­tors and di­rec­tors I’d love to work with, and I’m like, ‘Are you kid­ding me? She’s the set dress­ing!’”

The of­ten ruth­less Sloane — who is any­thing but set dress­ing — grad­u­ally finds her meth­ods chal­lenged, in par­tic­u­lar by Gugu Mbatha-raw’s

im­pas­sioned cam­paigner, Esme. “What Gugu’s do­ing is the heart of the film,” says Chas­tain. “Be­fore her, peo­ple were just col­lat­eral dam­age [to El­iz­a­beth]. She’ll sac­ri­fice her­self, she’ll sac­ri­fice ev­ery­one around her. But Esme is the first time she’s forced to con­front other peo­ple’s feel­ings and how she’s re­spon­si­ble for that.”

De­spite Sloane’s oc­ca­sion­ally bru­tal meth­ods, Chas­tain sees her as a pos­i­tive, if un­likely, role model. “What we re­alise is she will sac­ri­fice her­self be­cause she’s gotta ac­com­plish what she set out to, and I think that’s a re­ally good role model for men and women right now: Sloane at the end of the movie; not nec­es­sar­ily at the be­gin­ning!” Dogged, driven and adapt­able, Miss Sloane could just be the first in a new breed of po­lit­i­cal he­roes.

MISS SLOANE is in cin­e­mas from 10 fe­bru­ary

Jes­sica Chas­tain as the hard-as-nails but ul­ti­mately in­spi­ra­tional El­iz­a­beth Sloane.

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