Hollywood actor Jessica Chastain is known for her film role sin hits such as The Help, Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar and The Martian, and has also appeared on Broadway.
Born in Sacramento, California, Chastain was inspired by the theatre when her grandmother took her to see a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at age seven. Having struggled at school, Chastain used theatre as an outlet and would regularly stage plays with classmates, and read the works Shakespeare whenever she could.
She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and debuted professionally as Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at TheatreWorks in San Francisco. Having been talent spotted upon graduating, Chastain landed a number of roles in TV series such as ER, Veronica Mars, Law & Order and Close to Home.
Chastain made her movie debut in a film titled Jolene, a short story based on the song of the same name by Dolly Parton. Around the same time, she appeared on stage as Desdemona in a Public Theater production of Othello opposite Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Iago.
Her breakthrough roles came in 2011, when she appeared in six major motion pictures. These included Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus, opposite Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life, and possibly the biggest hit to date, The Help. Based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, Chastain played housewife Celia Foote in the film that exposed racism Black maids were exposed to in 1960s America. Chastain was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, losing out to her cast mate Octavia Spencer.
The following year, Chastain appeared in Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s drama about the decade-long manhunt to find Osama in Laden. Chastain was once again nominated for an Oscar, this time for Best Actress, while she won a Golden Globe for the same performance.
Chastain made her Broadway debut in the same year as Zero Dark Thirty, appearing in a revival of Ruth Goetz’s play The Heiress at the Walter Kerr Theatre.