Jessica Chastain: WHO ARE YOU?

by Meghan O’Keefe (@megsokay)

Okay, so obviously, I know who Jessica Chastain is.

She’s now a two-time Academy Award nominated actress. She’s appeared in countless popular and critically acclaimed films in the past few years (including Zero Dark Thirty, Mama, The Help, Tree of Life, and Take Shelter). And for one dark day, I was under the misconception that she was romantically involved with Tom Hiddleston.

That said, I still have no clue who Jessica Chastain is.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, WHO ARE YOU??

IS JESSICA CHASTAIN A MOVIE STAR?

Earlier this year, Jessica Chastain headlined the number one and number two films in the country, starred on Broadway and nabbed an Oscar nod…in the same week.

That is some pretty crazy movie star mojo.

However, she still is not really a big household name. As she herself told Vanity Fair, “I’m the unknown everyone’s already sick of.”

Almost in response, Bruce Handy, also of Vanity Fair, wrote an article questioning her ability to be a movie star. He explains that Jennifer Lawrence and Katharine Hepburn are movie stars because they embody a “combustion of craft and personality”, whereas “Chastain is more like an empty vessel.”

If you think that’s way harsh, then be comforted knowing that Vanity Fair did, too. The piece was dramatically pulled down, but the question remains…does Jessica Chastain have the personality to be a movie star?

JESSICA CHASTAIN, CAN PEOPLE CARE ABOUT YOU?

IS SHE A FASHION ICON?

Whenever Chastain exited the stage door after performing on Broadway in The Heiress, her chic winter outfits were snapped by paparazzi. On Oscar night, she dazzled in a gold Armani Prive gown and even got our own Janelle Snowden to declare she was having a “fashion-gasm”.  This week, Jessica Chastain has been photographed all over Paris where she’s been hobnobbing at fashion shows. She even got to pose with famously crotchety Karl Lagerfeld, whose acceptance is an invitation to be a member of international fashion royalty.

So, basically, she’s got great style, right?

Eh….maybe not.

See the thing that made the Armani Prive dress so amazing on Oscar night was that throughout the Awards season, Chastain repeatedly got it wrong. She got it wrong in color, she got it wrong in fit, she got it wrong in taste. The gold gown was well fitted and classic, but that also means it was safe. Tons of women before her have worn that same style. To be a fashion icon you have to set the style with what you wear and Chastain usually looks like she’s letting her clothes wear her.

But then again, clothes do wear her well.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF PERSONAL STYLE?

IS THAT HER REAL HAIR?

When Jessica Chastain appeared at the Academy Awards, her hair was perfect. 

Her long copper curls didn’t float in the wind. It was like the wind was cradling her hair.

But just last fall, I saw her filming The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby in Astor Place and her hair was a short, burnish bronze colored bob.

In Mama, she’s got jet black goth hair.

In The Help, she went full on Dolly Parton blonde.

Clearly, she’s changing her hair for her performances, but what is her hair supposed to look like naturally??

The only hint we have is an old yearbook photo where she looks like she might be blonde. Or strawberry blonde. Or maybe a light red. Or a dark red. Or maybe a sandy blonde. Is there some brown in there? Or maybe she’s wearing a wig there, too.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, DO YOU HAVE HAIR?

IS SHE AGING?

Okay, let’s just start by saying that Jessica Chastain has straight up lied about her age.

Or…at least…people think she has?

In 2012, her “official” age was supposed to be 30, but a quick google search revealed she is probably four years older. Not to mention, a former classmate blew the whistle on her by revealing yearbook photos that would age her anywhere from 4 to 7 additional years (and suggest she’s a blonde or a strawberry blonde or some kind of reddish blonde or something??). Now, she is widely regarded now to be 35, but who but God knows?

When Chastain is pressed on this, she refuses to give any sort of actual answer. Or at least, she told a reporter in January that “I will never say my age because I’m an actress, and I want to play different ages.”

Which is fine, I guess. In fact, it makes her sound like a serious artiste. But Jennifer Lawrence just played a 16 year old in The Hunger Games in the same year she beat Chastain to the Best Actress Oscar by playing Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook (a role written for a woman in her late 20s to early 30s).

So if Jennifer Lawrence clearly isn’t being held back by the disability of having Hollywood know that her real age is 22, why would Jessica Chastain need to hide that she’s in her mid-to-late 30s?

Because she buys into the gross idea that women have an expiration date.

Or maybe because she really wants to play a variety of ages.

I don’t know!!!!

JESSICA CHASTAIN, HOW OLD ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO EVEN BE?

IS SHE FRIENDS OR FRENEMIES WITH J.LAW?

Right now, everyone and their dark emo cousin loves Jennifer Lawrence. It’s kind of a social crime not to like her. So, it was really bad for Jessica Chastain when people started to gossip that the two didn’t like each other.

Chastain responded to these allegations on her FACEBOOK PAGE  by saying

I’ve done two photoshoots with Jennifer Lawrence over the years and have found her to be utterly charming and a great talent. I’ve told her how beautiful her film work is. Please don’t allow the media to perpetuate the myth that women aren’t supportive of each other. Every time an actress is celebrated for her great work, I cheer. For the more brilliant their performance, the more the audience demands stories about women. With support and encouragement, we help to inspire this industry to create opportunities for women. And as we all know: a great year for women in film, is just a great year for film.” – Jessica Chastain…..

Which is really, really nice and smart and lovely and totally makes you love Jessica Chastain.

In fact, when she spoke with our team on the red carpet she made it clear how much she loves Jennifer Lawrence and how much she loves Marion Cotillard and how much she loves Emmanuelle Riva and how much she enjoys being a girl:

However, even after the Oscars, there are still lingering reports that Chastain didn’t want to work/talk to/pose alongside J. Law. The only pesky thing that supports this is that you can find photos of Jennifer Lawrence with almost every Oscar nominee except Jessica Chastain. Not to mention, the rumors about keeping Jessica and Jennifer apart are coming more from reports of Chastain’s people pitching backstage fits, than from Chastain herself.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, DO YOU LIKE OTHER LADIES?

Kidding, she’s totally cool with other women. It says so on Facebook.

Thus begging the question…

JESSICA CHASTAIN, WHY ARE YOU LETTING YOUR PEOPLE SUGGEST YOU HATE OTHER WOMEN?

IS SHE HUMAN?

Finally, is Jessica Chastain a human being?

Is her reticence to divulge anything personal about herself a sign that she’s a cyborg sent to Earth by aliens to learn our ways?

Or is she really just a really dedicated character actress?

The thing about Jessica Chastain is that personality-wise, she’s kind of a void. A pleasant void, but a void. It makes it really hard to latch onto her as a brand or a movie star, but it makes it super easy to believe her as a variety of different people on stage and on screen. Her job is to become other people and she does it so well, I can’t tell if she’s a person or not.

Ultimately, I think Jessica Chastain is a nice person who is a great actress. She might even be the best actress of her generation. She could even be a new type of movie star.

But I still have this lingering feeling that she isn’t a movie star as much as she’s an actress giving a tour de force performance of a movie star.

JESSICA CHASTAIN: WHO ARE YOU?

[Photo Credits: Getty Images, Universal Studios]