Quote of the Day: Jessica Chastain’s Goal is to Work with a Female Director Every Year

Jessica Chastain in “Miss Sloane”

Jessica Chastain is among the most vocal Hollywood A-Listers championing inclusivity in the industry, both onscreen and behind the scenes. In 2015, she published an essay via The Hollywood Reporter in which she expressed how surprisingly different it was to be on a set with mostly women.

Shooting Niki Caro’s “The Zookeeper’s Wife” in Prague, Chastain wrote, “I’ve never been on a set with so many women. Usually on a movie it would be me and maybe two or three other women, even though there are 100 people there. It’s crazy.”

Chastain seems determined to make female-empowerment and inclusivity a part of her growing career. In two recent interviews with Variety, one for her new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and another for her upcoming gun control drama “Miss Sloane,” Chastain elaborated on how she plans to pursue inclusivity in her future projects.

“A few years ago I took stock,” Chastain explained. “I spend a majority of my life on film sets. What am I contributing to the world? How am I helping: am I asking questions about how our society runs and who we value and who we listen to and who we ignore? I’ve always worked with female directors. I’m looking to work with a female filmmaker every year. That’s my goal. They’re not given the same opportunities so if I have any influence in choosing a film or a script or finding a director I’m absolutely going to make a difference. That doesn’t mean I’m excluding men — it means I need some balance in my life.”

Chastain recently launched her own company, Fickle Films, to develop female-driven material. The company has optioned Greer Macallister’s novel “The Magician’s Lie,” which follows a female illusionist accused of murdering her husband. Chastain also recently wrapped Susanna White’s “Woman Walks Ahead,” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife” hits theaters in early 2017.

With all of this work, Variety asked her if she’s noticed any change in Hollywood regarding female-focused stories.

“I think it’s getting better,” she offered. “Something I realized is this is the first time I’ve played a lead character in like three years. I did ‘The Martian’ and ‘Interstellar’ and ‘A Most Violent Year,’ but I haven’t had the film be my character’s story in a long time, and I don’t know if that’s because there wasn’t a character that I felt was right for me to play and that would pass the Bechdel test or be someone who would pass the status quo, but I’m just now realizing it. And now I’m like — ‘Woman Walks Ahead,’ ‘Molly’s Game,’ it’s different.”

Chastain suggested that our current political climate is helping uncover some of these ongoing issues. “The one good thing [about the election] is all the hate speech and everything that’s going on has shown how important feminism is and that we’re a very, very young country, and we have a lot of growing to do and a lot of healing to do,” she observed. “I think a few years ago most people were complacent and they didn’t really talk about racism so much or sexism, and now we’re talking about it every day.”

“Miss Sloane” opens on November 25.

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