Jessica Chastain on Hollywood's Big Woman Problem: I Was Just 'Lucky'
By Antoinette Bueno
Though Jessica Chastain has played some pretty fierce female characters throughout her career, according to the Oscar-nominated actress, women are definitely being under-represented in film.
In a new interview with Indiewire, the 37-year-old Chastain -- who proudly calls herself a feminist -- says she's just been "lucky" to have the opportunity to play such strong female roles in films like Zero Dark Thirty and Interstellar.
"When I speak out I'm not doing it from a selfish place because I get incredible opportunities," she says. "I'm speaking out as an audience member who is going to the cinema and noticing there's a problem here because I don't see women being represented. I don't see Asian-American actresses begin represented. I don't see women in their 60s being represented in film. ... There are these really fantastic actresses out there, but there are so few opportunities."
She points out the lack of female leads when it comes to the most critically acclaimed movies.
"If you look at the films of 2014 and you look at the films everyone is talking about on shortlists for Best Pictures and all that, and when people talk awards, there's not one film that's from a female protagonist," she says. "I mean, of course, there's the acting prizes. But if you think of Best Picture, there's not one that has a female lead. … We are missing female point of views."
While speaking out against Hollywood, Jessica does take the time to praise directors who turn roles originally written for men into female ones, such as what director Christopher Nolan did with her role as Murph in Interstellar.
"Men and women aren't that different," she says. "We all have the same hopes and fears and loves and anxieties. We all understand what that is. If a female character, if her purpose in a film is for her sexual attraction, if that is the actress' goal in the film, or what the character is about -- that's one thing. And I don't play those characters. I'm not very interested in those characters."
"The more we talk about this hopefully the more it inspires directors out there who have these scripts with 15 male characters and one female character," she adds. "And they look at it and go, 'What part of this is the important thing about the character that isn't based on their sex? It's their brain instead.'"
But is the Tree of Life actress passionate enough about the issue to launch her own production company a la Reese Witherspoon, specifically focused on producing female-fronted film such as Wild?
"I would love to do that," she says. "I think the problem is that that needs money."
Witherspoon talked to ET last month about why she fought so hard to make the film Wild, in which she stars as real-life heroin addict Cheryl Strayed.
"I was really seeing a deficit in the marketplace of strong female roles and women as the lead in films," Witherspoon told ET. "I realized if I wasn't going to start creating these opportunities for myself and other women, nobody was going to do it."