Before 2011 barely anyone knew the name Jessica Chastain - but after the release and success of Terrence Malick's breathtaking film The Tree Of Life - that all changed. With a total of seven films in 2011, the name Jessica Chastain began appearing everywhere. She became the breakout star of the year and ever since then, has continued to climb higher and higher up the ranks. If you aren't already on board the Chastain train - get on it!
Jessica Chastain is hands down my favorite actress (or person) in the entire world. Go ahead and call me another "crazed obsessed fangirl" but you know what I will reply - you are damn right! As someone who has literally seen everything she has starred in, I have narrowed down the top 5 roles that any newbie fan (or really everyone) must watch. I should preface that this list could come from a completely bias stance. I mean come on, I had to restrain myself from ranking every single performance. I can honestly say I have never seen her in a role that sucked. Sure the film might be dull, but Jessica Chastain never is.
Her first major lead role after her breakout success in 2011. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the highly acclaimed thriller Zero Dark Thirty depicted the ongoing manhunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, with CIA agent Maya at the center of it all. Jessica Chastain has said that she is a very sensitive person in real life, so playing an unemotional-guarded character took a toll on her, stating in an interview that she had to walk off set.
Despite having to bottle up her feelings for months of shooting, her hard and effortless work certainly paid off, as she went on to gain her second Oscar nomination. To this day, I am still bitter about her losing, but nonetheless whether a win or loss, this is one of Jessica Chastain's best performances. Just check out the clip below and see for yourself *goosebumps*.
4. Miss Julie
Oh, the talent that occurs on a midsummer night's eve. I went into this film with no previous knowledge of the original play. The only knowledge I had was that my favorite actress was the lead, so I bit the bullet and watched. Liv Ullmann's Miss Julie received many mixed reviews. A contributor on Roger Ebert.com summed up my exact thoughts:
Reaction to the film will depend on how one feels about seeing three people stand around delivering lines at one another. But the acting is so good it creates its own mood.
Acting so good that I wasn't bothered by the fact, that I could barely understand what was going on. Jessica Chastain gave a complete powerhouse of a performance. As Miss Julie deteriorated into madness, Chastain managed to get better and better. Truly an emotional and thrilling act to witness, especially the entire bird sequence - watch and you will find out what I mean. With only three actors, she easily managed to steal the entire film. If one doesn't like the sound of "seeing three people standing around delivering lines at one another" at least give it a go to see Jessica Chastain at her finest.
3. Lady Lucille Sharpe
Call me weird but I loved this batsh*t-crazy character. If you still haven't seen Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, if not for the chilling Gothic vibe then at least watch to witness the entrancing lady that is Lucille Sharpe. Playing the eldest sibling to Tom Hiddleston's Thomas Sharpe, Lucille was a complete departure for Jessica Chastain. She has played many emotionally damaged roles in the past, but Lucille is the first character that was a true villain.
Being the more psychotic half of the Sharpe duo, Chastain sheds every kind and warming trait to immerse herself completely into the cold skin of Lucille. Despite only being in a supporting role, Chastain manages to captivate you to the point where you don't even give the main character Edith or handsome Hiddleston another look. I wasn't expecting it at all, but Lucille was truly evil and Jessica Chastain embodies all the rage entirely. Word of caution: never drink her tea!
Making her film debut in Dan Ireland's 2008 film Jolene, Chastain plays the title character - an orphaned teenager who goes through a journey of self-discovery, sex, heartbreak, and everything in-between over the course of 10 years. Jolene grows from a naive and optimistic 15-year-old to a grounded 25-year-old woman. Despite being surrounded by talents like Dermot Mulroney and Frances Fisher, your eyes are constantly focused on Jessica Chastain.
This is a character that shows the incredible emotional range that Chastain has. Her performance is beautiful and pulls at your heart strings, as Jolene goes through many highs and lows such as emotional and sexual abuse. The film itself has a repetitive story line that gets tiresome, yet it proves my earlier point - the film doesn't need to be great for Jessica Chastain to shine. All I have left to say is that Jolene was one hell of a debut performance.
1. Celia Rae Foote
If you don't think this is acting at its finest, then what is? The Help directed by Tate Taylor had everyone raving, as it was a story filled with timeless and hard hitting themes. There was a wide range of characters, that were all played by incredible actors; Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard to name a few. However, my eyes were completely glued to a certain bubbly blonde that came from Sugar Ditch - yes - her name was Celia Rae Foote.
The role of Celia Foote introduced the more mainstream audiences - more importantly though - introduced me, to the wonder that is Jessica Chastain. Gaining her first Oscar nomination, her genuinely kind and soulful performance made it hard to watch, as she was hit by constant lows. I was honestly shocked to find out that Celia Foote wasn't played by a blonde southern actress - literally - my jaw dropped when I saw the "real" redheaded Chastain. That's HOW GOOD SHE WAS! If you still haven't seen The Help, then drop everything you are doing and go watch it...right now...are you watching it?