Actress Jessica Chastain savors success of ‘The Help,' ‘The Debt'
BY GENE TRIPLETT
BEVERLY HILLS — Jessica Chastain never paid much attention to ticket sales until one of her movies became the No. 1 moneymaker at the multiplexes.
“I didn’t understand the whole idea of box office or anything like that,” Chastain said during a recent press day at the Four Seasons Hotel promoting the spy thriller “The Debt.”
“The Help,” another film featuring Chastain in a prominent role, had opened earlier that week.
“And then Wednesday around 4 p.m., I started getting all these emails: ‘We’re having this huge Wednesday.’ Which is wonderful because I’m really happy with the film,” Chastain said of “The Help,” a drama from writer-director Tate Taylor about the relationships between privileged white families and their black maids in the American South of the 1960s.
“It’s great because I think it’s gone beyond what everyone’s hopes were,” the Juilliard-trained actress said. “God, I don’t know if I’m even supposed to talk about this, but I might knock on wood that it continues.”
Meanwhile, “The Debt” is paying its bills as well, ranking No. 4 in this week’s box office Top 10, just under the No. 2 ranked “The Help,” making the California-born Chastain’s face one of the most visible on the nation’s big screens right now.
But she wasn’t picking a favorite between the two films. Looking as sunny as the California morning that was filling the hotel windows, long reddish-blonde hair falling to the shoulders of her lacy white summer dress, Chastain seemed more enthusiastic about comparing the physical demands of “The Help” and “The Debt.”
The former, for example, required squeezing into some pretty uncomfortable period costumes.
“It is funny, there is something about being in the South, because I loved being able to eat whatever I wanted,” she said. “When you’re more curvy there’s just, like, more sensuality to you. You know, that’s really fun to be.
“The heat in Mississippi, I think we filmed that in July in Mississippi, so the heat with those girdles, that to me was a bit tough. And especially the outfit was so tight that they had to build a leaning board for me. The red dress, I couldn’t sit down in it because it was so sucked in in the waist, to try to give me the hourglass, that they built a leaning board. And so all the girls would be sitting around in the green room drinking their coffee or water. ‘Do you want a water?’ Like, ‘No, no, no, because I can’t actually even use the restroom. Like I couldn’t take the dress on and off. … But it was actually more fun than anything because everyone was laughing about it.”
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