- Jessica Michelle Chastain
March 24, 1977 (age 44)
- Michael Monasterio, Jerri Chastain, Michael Hastey
Jessica Michelle Chastain (born March 24, 1977) is an American actress. She began her Hollywood career in guest-roles on a few television series, before making her feature film debut in Jolene (2008). She gained wide public recognition in 2011 for her starring roles in six film releases, including Take Shelter, The Tree of Life and The Help. Her performance as Celia Foote in the last earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. In 2012, she made her Broadway debut in The Heiress.
Chastain garnered critical acclaim in 2012 for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Drama and the Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Actress and receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Other notable films include Christopher Nolan's Interstellar (2014), A Most Violent Year (2014), for which she received her third Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nominations, Ridley Scott's The Martian (2015) and Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak (2015).
Chastain's performances in Zero Dark Thirty and in the horror-fantasy film Mama (2013) led film critic Richard Roeper to describe her as "one of the finest actors of her generation." In 2012, Time featured her as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."
Early life and education
Chastain was born in Sacramento, California. She was raised by her mother, a vegan chef, and her stepfather, a fireman. She is close to her grandmother Marilyn, who attended the Oscar ceremony with her in 2012 and 2013.
She graduated from El Camino High School in Sacramento in 1995 and attended Sacramento City College, where she was a member of the debate team (1996–1997). In 1998, she appeared as Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet staged by TheatreWorks, a professional theater company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chastain then attended the Juilliard School in New York City as a member of the Drama Division's Group 32 (1999–2003), which also included Michael Urie and Jess Weixler. The funding making it possible for her to attend was provided through a scholarship by Robin Williams. She was an active participant in the drama department and starred in several theatrical productions and student film projects. She graduated from Juilliard with a B.F.A.degree in 2003.
Shortly before her drama school graduation, Chastain attended a showcase for final-year students in Los Angeles, and was promptly signed to a holding deal by television producer John Wells. She relocated to California, took up residence in Venice Beach, and started auditioning for jobs. Facing early difficulty in even getting auditions for roles, she recalled that "being a redhead and not having very conventionally modern looks, it was confusing for people and they didn't know exactly where to put me."
In her television debut, The WB network's pilot remake of the 1960s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, she portrayed Carolyn Stoddard, who was originated by Nancy Barrett. Directed by P. J. Hogan, the pilot did not live up to the network's expectations and the series was eventually not picked up for broadcast. Chastian later appeared in a guest stint on the medical drama series ER, which marked a professional watershed as she subsequently found a niche playing eccentric characters in television. "I did a job on ER as a psychotic woman, and after that got a lot of jobs in TV where I wasn't the normal one," she later said. "I played a lot of girls who had something off. Maybe they'd been the victim of some horrible accident. Or they were crazy."
Chastain's biggest commercial success of 2011 was The Help, which was based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name. The movie received positive reviews from critics and became an immediate box office hit grossing $169,620,611 in North America, and $35,700,000 in other territories, as of February 2, 2012, for a worldwide total of $205,320,611. Her performance received praise from critics, and gave her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination, which she lost to her co-star Octavia Spencer.
Chastain is estranged from her biological father and has refused to confirm various news reports on his identity. In an interview with Vogue in 2013, she stated that no father is listed on her birth certificate and she considers Michael Hastey, her stepfather, to be her father.
Chastain is the eldest of five siblings; she has two younger sisters and two younger brothers. In 2014, she revealed that her involvement with the non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms was prompted by the suicide of one of her sisters.
Chastain is a feminist and she is a vegan. As of June 2015, she lives in New York.
She was in a long-term relationship with film director Ned Benson before breaking up in 2010. As of 2012, she is in a relationship with Count Gian Luca Passi di Preposulo, an Italian-born executive for French fashion brand Moncler.