Jessica Chastain on her role in Zero Dark Thirty: "I just lost it "

Dec 18, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. ET

Jessica Chastain has quickly become a seasoned actress in Hollywood, but she has never faced a challenge like her character in her new film.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain has made her mark in Hollywood in a very short amount of time. Since playing Celia in the 2011 film The Help, the actress has starred in nine different projects. One of those projects is the film Zero Dark Thirty, a film based on the search for, and eventual killing of, Osama bin Laden. Chastain plays a CIA officer (Maya) involved in the search.

"While [screenwriter Mark] Boal acknowledges Maya was dramatized for the sake of a film built around one character," said The Huffington Post, "Chastain believes the film is '100 percent accurate' in depicting the operative's large role in tracking down bin Laden."

But the film proved to be one of the hardest of Chastain’s career. She told The Huffington Post that part of that had to do with evolving over a 10-year period, and another part is the subject matter itself. But the actress said playing such a focused, non-emotional woman was hard for her.

For one week of filming, the cast and crew flew to Jordan to film the "brutal interrogation scenes" in a Jordanian prison and it was hard for the emotional actress.

"There was a 10 minute break while I cried," she told The Huffington Post. "I had to go hide behind a building. I just lost it and started crying. I know I'm playing this woman who's supposed to be — it's her job — to be unemotional, but I still feel things. And I wasn't going to be able to do the scene again without letting out, without having a good cry."

The film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed The Hurt Locker, and from the beginning she knew Chastain was right for the part.

"We moved heaven and earth for this woman," Bigelow told The Huffington Post. "This is a fairly complex piece and required somebody with great verbal agility. But as importantly, the precision of her carefully calibrated and nuanced performance, I've seen in her other work but never to the extent I've seen in this."

Chastain is staying busy with her numerous roles, but wouldn’t change it for anything. She said she worked hard to get where she is and is enjoying every minute of it.

"A year and a half ago, I didn't know my life was going to be like this," she said.

Zero Dark Thirty opens Dec. 19.

Photo courtesy Brian To/