Jessica Chastain Career Milestones
Born: Jessica N. Howard
Birth Date: March 29, 1981
Birth Place: Sacramento, California, USA
Height: 5′ 4″ (1,63 m)
Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and was in a dance troupe by age thirteen. She began performing in Shakespearean productions all over the Bay area.
An actor in a production of “Romeo & Juliet” encouraged her to audition for Juilliard as a drama major. She became a member of “Crew 32” with the help of a scholarship from one of the school’s famous alumni, Robin Williams.
In her last year at Juilliard, she was offered a holding deal with TV writer/producer John Wells and she eventually worked in three of his TV shows. Jessica continues to do theatre, having played in “The Cherry Orchard”, “Rodney’s Wife”, “Salome” and “Othello”. She spends her time between New York and Los Angeles, working in theater, film and TV.
In 2011, she had a prolific year in film. She was nominated for and won a number of awards, including a 2012 Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Duygularin Rengi (2011).
Jessica Chastain has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most sought after actors of her generation. Born and raised in Northern California, Chastain attended the Juilliard School in New York City. While there she starred in Romeo and Juliet and went on to receive glowing reviews for her performances in The Cherry Orchard opposite Michelle Williams at Williamstown; and Richard Nelson’s Rodney’s Wife opposite David Strathairn off-Broadway at Playwright’s Horizons.
Chastain will next be seen starring opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in the drama The Tree Of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick for River Road Productions. The story concerns the loss of innocence as seen through the eyes of the son of the characters played by Chastain and Pitt. The film was shot in Texas in early 2008 and will be released in May 2011.
Chastain also stars as the female lead in Miramax’s The Debt alongside Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington. Chastain plays an Israeli Mossad agent sent on a mission to apprehend the WWII Nazi surgeon from the concentration camp who tortured Jewish prisoners. Production took place in Budapest and Tel Aviv.
Chastain will also be seen in Ami Mann’s upcoming feature film, The Fields. This psychological thriller is based on true events that took place in a small Pennsylvania town in 1973. Jessica stars alongside Sam Worthington and Chloe Moretz. Chastain recently wrapped production on Dreamworks’ adaptation of the best-selling Kathryn Stockett novel The Help playing Celia Foote, an insecure Southern lady constantly trying to fit in with the high society women who reject her. The story centers on black maids working in white households in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer are among the cast. The film will be released in August 2011.
Chastain will soon begin filming Wettest County in the World opposite Shia LaBeouf, Mia Wasikowska, Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. The film will be directed by John Hillcoat and produced by Douglas Wick.
In 2009, Jessica played the role of Desdemona in the classic play Othello opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Peter Sellars, the project ran beginning in Vienna, then Germany and finishing in New York.
At the senior class Juilliard showcase, Jessica landed a coveted talent deal with Emmy award winning executive producer and writer John Wells, the show runner of “E.R.”, “West Wing” and producer of White Oleander. After completing a pilot for John Wells and director PJ Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding), Jessica returned to the stage in the Los Angeles Wadsworth Theatre production of Salome, where Academy Award®-winners Estelle Parsons (director) and Al Pacino hand picked Jessica to play the title role of ‘Salome’ opposite Al. Continuing the collaboration, producer Barry Navidi commenced the film version of Salome entitled Wild Salome directed by Al Pacino, where they filmed behind the scenes and portions of the play’s production.
Chastain’s stage work in Salome received enormous critical attention and led to her landing the dynamic title role of Jolene in the Dan Ireland directed production opposite Rupert Friend, Frances Fisher, Dermot Mulroney and Michael Vartan. This adaptation of the E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime) short story, Jolene depicts a young woman’s odyssey of relationships over the course of ten years. Chastain won the Best Actress Award at the 2008 Seattle Film Festival for this role.
Chastain currently lives in California.