Jessica Chastain is ready to challenge Hollywood’s accepted way of doing business by revving up her “rebellious streak” and “creating new rules” for how women should be paid. Ahead of the release of female-led action-spy movie The 355, Chastain sat down with SheKnows to reveal how she pulled off this ambitious project and ensured the women involved would have proper ownership of the film. Chastain, who plays CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown, told us about what inspired her to push for herself, Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, and Fan Bingbing to all own a piece of the movie, what it was like to film stunt-heavy action sequences in gowns and heels, and more — watch the full video above and read on to hear what she had to say about her efforts to push Hollywood into a feminist future.
Chastain was a key driving force behind The 355 being made, and the 44-year-old star made sure that the film had strong powerful women on-screen and off-screen. As a producer, she guaranteed her four co-stars were paid equally and also owned a piece of the movie.
“I like doing the unexpected things, I like not following the rules. I like creating new rules or coloring outside the lines of what people think is possible,” she told SheKnows confidently. “That’s what brought me to this project. I loved the idea of making the actresses the owners of the film in an industry that for so long has devalued actresses. And I liked making them the bosses.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) August 25, 2021
While these are powerful words from an influential actress in the entertainment industry, Chastain honestly believes that she hasn’t reached her full potential in making a huge impact on changing the pay equality game.
“I always just ask myself when I think of something that hasn’t been done before, ‘OK, it’s not probable because it’s never been done before. But is it possible?’ That’s the theme of my life,” she explained. What she’s not looking for is a “repetition of history” which “hasn’t been the most equal to all members of society.” That’s why she maintains that “anything is possible” and why she’s “always pushing [herself] forward.”
Speaking of pushing herself forward: We had to ask about Chastain’s fighting footwear after seeing her play a secret agent in four-inch heels, but the actress had a surprising take on why a high-feminine wardrobe actually wasn’t bad for stunt-heavy scenes.
“To be honest, that wasn’t a difficult part, it was the least difficult part of filming that stuff,” she said of her shoes. “I found it easier fighting in that green dress than even wearing the suit [because] that constricts you…but the gown and stuff, it was so fluid and you’re completely free with your movement. To me, it was the easiest part of it.”
Co-star Kruger tells SheKnows that Chastain was “a tough cookie” on the set of the film (and Chastain returns the admiration, telling us she thinks Kruger “is a spy pretending to be an actress” and “fooled us all.”) The truth is, without Chastain taking charge of the financial gain for her cast, the studio would have likely not offered the same sweet deal that she demanded for herself, Kruger, Nyong’o, Cruz, and Bingbing. It’s a glaring reminder that Hollywood (and other industries) have a long way to go before narrowing the gender pay gap, and that work shouldn’t be all on the shoulders of actresses like Chastain — though we certainly appreciate her taking up the cause.