Jessica Chastain: A very private movie celebrity

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JESSICA CHATAIN With respect to her relationships with de Preposulo, with whom she often spends time visiting Italy, so much so that occasionally she has a slight Italian accent when she speaks, Chastain explains that they keep their work separate:  “Italy brings me so much serenity and the joy for living.  I especially love going there after working hard or being in fast-paced New York. Gianluca works in fashion, and we talk about everything together, but we try to keep our professional worlds separate.”

Together: Jessica, your character Elizabeth Sloane is a very formidable personality, to say the least. How did you see her?
Jessica Chastain: She’s a very ambitious woman who fought to establish herself as a lobbyist in Washington which is a very male-dominated world and highly competitive. But she is a perfectionist who is addicted to winning and she thrived on taking on very tough causes because of the high she would get from winning unwinnable cases. And the gun regulation bill was exactly that kind of case that she felt compelled to taken on. I learned so much about the political process from working on this film – it’s incredibly fascinating to explore that world.

Is this the kind of movie about a tough-minded woman that will remind audiences of Erin Brockovich?
I would hope that our film will inspire other women and show what women can achieve. This is a story about a woman who worked very hard, who was extremely well-prepared at all times, and who has this crusading spirit.

Usually, we see men cast in these kinds of roles or situations, where they get to be the rebel or the outsider, but this film shows how a woman can be just as tough and just as determined as any man. Elizabeth Sloane was always multi-tasking, always in a rush, and was always one step ahead of the game.

How did you prepare for the role?
I met with 11 female lobbyists in Washington D.C. and tried to learn as much as I could about their world. I was kind of taken aback about what a high pressure profession it was and how they all had to work much harder than male lobbyists to be successful.

What surprised you the most about Elizabeth Sloane and the lobbying industry?
I didn’t expect that they would all have this intimidating air and look as polished and commanding as they did. There were all perfectly dressed in these very chic, mainly black outfits that exuded power and poise. They also had an aggressive mentality that they needed to bring to their work in a field which is pretty much a men’s club.

How do you think audiences will view the film?
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story and Liz Sloane will surprise a lot of people, and you won’t always know what she’s planning next.  She would tell her team that they needed to be so well-prepared that they would always have the advantage over the other side and that’s the kind of energy and dynamic she brings to her work.

It took you a while before you found success as an actress. Lately, though, it seems you’re finding one great role after another?
It’s not that easy. It’s a very uncertain profession and you’re constantly fighting for the good roles. That’s why I like to work a lot because I love acting, and I love being able to do things that I would never be able to do in my own life. And I still carry lots of doubts about my work.

You’ve said in the past that you don’t like to believe in all the glowing reviews you get or when people pay you compliments?
I worry that if I feel too confident or positive, something bad is going to happen. When people pay me compliments, there’s a side of me that feels I don’t deserve them. I try not to get too excited when things are going well because that’s when I start thinking about how things could start going wrong for me. That’s why I like choosing parts that scare me, because I have this perverse sense of wanting to prove to myself that I’m not going to fail after all.