First sight: Jessica Chastain

A 29-year-old from California who is possibly the most prolific actor you haven't yet heard of

Who is she?

A 29-year-old from California who is possibly the most prolific actor you haven't yet heard of. Not for long – take your pick of her breakout roles this year.

What's she in?

Loads. The biggie is Terrence Malick's epic Tree of Life – arthouse's Avatar in the hype stakes. Then there's Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes; word is she holds her own against the mighty Vanessa Redgrave. She's an Israeli Mossad agent in The Debt. Oh, and Al Pacino was so taken with her ("a total revelation") when they appeared on stage in Salome, he's made a film of it.

We get it. She's busy. So why haven't we heard of her before?

Bad timing. For some reason her movies have taken a while to come out. She filmed her scenes for Tree of Life with Brad Pitt three years ago.

Must be frustrating

Mostly for her mum, who keeps telling her friends that yes, her daughter really has made a film with Brad Pitt, honestly. But Chastain says the wait has probably done her a favour in auditions: "I haven't been typecast, because none of my work has come out."

Is she spilling the beans on Malick?

And unleash forces scarier than Mossad? No way. Besides, she was more intimidated working with Pitt. She did watch all Malick's films back-to-back the day before her audition though. He wasn't present, but saw the tapes and she was summoned to Texas to meet him. She was only given a script after she got the part. Cath Clarke


Cath Clarke

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
First sight: Uggie
Cath Clarke: After labouring in obscurity for years, this Californian actor is finally making waves, and is even tipped for an Oscar. Oh and by the way, he's a dog

Cath Clarke

22, Dec, 2011 @9:59 PM

Article image
Salomé review – Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain explore Wilde sex
Pacino’s brooding Herod lusts after a pre-fame Chastain in this filmed 2006 staging of Oscar Wilde’s sensual power play, writes Mike McCahill

Mike McCahill

18, Sep, 2014 @9:00 PM

Article image
First sight: Aqib Khan
A Bradford teenager who landed the lead in the new East Is East sequel

Cath Clarke

20, Jan, 2011 @10:00 PM

Article image
First sight: Brit Marling
A 27-year-old economics graduate who turned down a job in banking at Goldman Sachs, telling them she wanted to be an artist

Cath Clarke

27, Oct, 2011 @10:44 PM

First sight: Salvatore Cantalupo

We can tell you this much: he is middle aged. You can extrapolate the rest yourself

Phelim O'Neill

25, Sep, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
First sight: Alden Ehrenreich
A 19-year-old American who took on a doubly daunting challenge with his first film, Tetro

Cath Clarke

06, May, 2010 @9:15 PM

Article image
First sight: Jake Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman's son plays his grandson in the new film adaptation of Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version

Cath Clarke

02, Dec, 2010 @11:01 PM

Article image
First sight: Derick Martini

A 34-year-old from New York who pulled together a blue-chip cast to star in his directing debut, Lymelife

Cath Clarke

20, May, 2010 @9:49 PM

Article image
First sight Jessica Brown Findlay
The 21 year-old-actor appearing in Downton Abbey and Albatross

Cath Clarke

21, Jul, 2011 @9:26 PM

Article image
First sight: Dustin Lance Black

The twentysomething writer of Gus Van Sant's new film Milk interviewed everyone he could find who had known Harvey Milk

Cath Clarke

21, Nov, 2008 @12:01 AM