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Jessica Chastain on "Coriolanus" and "Take Shelter"

Each year, actors and auteurs head north for the Toronto International Film Festival. Vanity Fair Senior West Coast editor Krista Smith sat down with the biggest stars of TIFF 2011.

Released on 09/14/2011


(film reel clicks)

Jessica Chastain, happy to see you again.


Everyone, like I walk five feet,

Jessica Chastain, Jessica Chastain, Jessica Chastain.

It's been a buzz in the air all over the place.

So you're nine movies are finally coming out, right?


You had, last weekend, didn't you have two

movies back-to-back with number one was The Help

and then The Debt.

There was The Debt.

Yeah, it's funny.

There used to be a Chastain curse.

It was four and a 1/2 years I've been making

11 films and I would tell people

and all my friends said, You know you're cursed.

Even for Take Shelter, when I met Jeff.

First time I met him I said,

I really like you and I'd love

to do your movie but I feel

because you're a nice guy, gotta let you know,

if I'm in your film, it may not

come out for four years.

(laughs) But he took the risk?

[Jessica] He took the risk.

But speaking of that,

you might be, now, like a lucky rabbit's foot

because that film will not, I mean,

it's just going and going and going and going.

Obviously, you went from Sundance to Cannes

and now Toronto and I think.

I was in Deauville.

We won the Grand Prix in Deauville.

Oh wow.

We won the Grand Prix in Critic's Week in Cannes.

It really is.

This film we made for no money

and it was such a labor of love for all of us,

now, is just taking off, it's great.

You're here with, obviously, Take Shelter's here

and also Cory Alanis and Rafe,

who, I just was speaking to,

as ferocious as he is in that movie

which is very, you know,

there's anger and energy

and I always think of so much velocity

surrounding Ray finds, he's so, very, soft spoken.

Oh, he's so gentle isn't he?

[Krista] He's so gentle.

You're like, oh okay and I was like,

maybe it's just nine in the morning

but no, he really is at that demeanor, he's very.

I find that with a lot, actually,

I tend to work with a lot of high intensity male actors.

You think of Al Pacino or

well definitely Ray Fiennes and Tom Hardy.

All these guys that are that.

But at the end of the day,

you realize they're just these soft,

vulnerable, quiet, sweet men.

How did you get in that part?

How did you get, cause you're the only

non-English actress in there or actor.

It was a mutual friend.

There was someone who I'd just done

Tree of Life and someone from that

suggested me to Rafe and he asked

for my tape and they sent a little bit

of Wilde Salome, the film I did with Al Pacino.

With Al, right.

And then I had a coffee with him,

a meeting with him and talked about the play

and talked about the part and he told me

that Vanessa Redgrave would be playing Volumnia

and I was like, Oh my God, please let me do this.

I just wanted to be in the room with Ray Fiennes

and Vanessa Redgrave and watch them do Shakespeare.

But also, this Take Shelter and the end of the world.

And the thing about that movie is your like, the ending.

Don't give it away.

Okay, I won't give it away.

(both laugh)

I am not going to give it away

but call me when you see it.

'Cause it's literally, it's up for debate.

I think Jeff purposely made it ambiguous.

And he told me, when I first met with him.

He said he didn't want to make a film

about apocalyptic ideas, he didn't want

to make a film about schizophrenia,

he wanted to make a film about marriage and faith.

I thought, That's really interesting

for someone on their second feature

to chose the unexpected way of telling the story.

He uses it as an allegory for something else.

So, I think when you do that

it can't help but be ambiguous.

And Mike Shannon, I knew him from,

'cause he's such a New York theatre actor.

And he's like a genius.

He's like the king below 14th street, right? (laughs)

Yeah, absolutely and he can't hide

'cause he's this guy.

[Krista] A tree.

I know.

He's the kind of actor you see in a film

and you're always like,

no matter how long he's on screen,

you think, I want him to come back.

And here's a film where he's on screen the whole time.

It's great. That's great.

I think about it, just in hearing you talk.

A wife in The Debt, a wife in The Help,

a wife in Tree of Life, a wife in Coriolanus,

a wife in Take Shelter, some good wife roles.

I think it's I like to work with nice men.

That's great.

Well it's great to see you.

We'll see you again.

Thank you. I'm sure.

You're like our family now, I feel.

Starring: Krista Smith, Jessica Chastain

Featuring: Ralph Fiennes, Michael Shannon

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