10 January

Jessica Chastain’s 5 most unlikely roles


As the beautiful redhead currently graces movie screens in Molly’s Game, Numéro looks back at her 5 most unlikely roles. Because despite her femme fatale aura, the sublime Jessica Chastain has ignored the Bond Girl roles for more much more subtle characters. But while each new movie sees her fan club grow exponentially, she wasn’t always topping the bill. We look back at the hidden gems and TV series overshadowed by elegance and success.

By Alexis Thibault

Jessica Chastain by Michelangelo di Battista

1 – TV time 


Long before playing the unscrupulously predatory Elisabeth Sloane in John Madden’s movie Miss Sloane (2017), Jessica Chastain adventured into Chicago’s most famous emergency room in the hit TV series ER. In the 10th season of the show (2003- 2004), she appeared in the episode “Forgive and Forget” where an unbalanced person seeks revenge on the doctors of Cook County Hospital and crosses town in a tank… Later on, we see her in the first season of Veronica Mars. Thanks to her youthful appearance, she stars as the young Sarah Williams who’s just turned 18, in the episode “The Girl Next Door”. Despite being 26 years old, the public don’t notice and love her. A carefree Sarah is having a mid-teenage crisis and falls pregnant. With perfect adolescent logic she leaves Ohio and her final year at school to join her art student boyfriend Andre. Sarah/Jessica is then hunted down by Veronica Mars...

Jessica Chastain - Dahlia Taslitz - S10E16 Forgive and Forget (2004)

2- Blackbeard


“The great fop who plays the lead role is insipid, he who plays Blackbeard is hammy and Richard Chamberlain is ridiculous. The script is basic and formulaic, the psychology of the characters is rudimentary… All that’s left is Jessica Chastain’s smile.” Thus ran one of two spectator reviews of the American miniseries Blackbeard(2006) in which Jessica Chastain played Charlotte Ormand, a cheaper version of Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean. An incredible pirate adventure that’s been unjustly forgotten because the bad guys were just that. The second spectator review remarked that never before had pirates been so clean and the intensity of the scenes were worthy of an episode of Dallas…

Blackbeard (2006)

3- Jolene or her first real role


In 2008, the Californian actress was given the lead role in Jolene, an American drama by Dan Ireland and adaptation of the short story Jolene: A Life by Edgar Doctorow. This road trip with as many hilarious as tragic moments presents Jessica Chastain in a modern epic, playing the formative years of a young girl’s life from 17 to 25. Along the way she meets a whole gallery of characters and her personal evolution reveals an extraordinary palette of acting skills: she goes from falling in love with a nerd to a topless dancer in a cowboy hat, she plays a frightened virgin, a shy kid and a sexy waitress. Five years later Jessica gets nominated for best actress Oscar for her role inZero Dark Thirty and while not everyone agreed about Jolene, no one ever doubted her acting ability.

Trailer “Jolene”

4- Wild Salome and her smouldering dance


Presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival of 2011, Wild Salome is a full-length feature film hybrid caught between documentary and stage play. It all started because Al Pacino wanted to make a film about the Irish playwright and writer Oscar Wilde but finally settled on adapting his work Salome of 1893. Behind the camera he interweaves scenes from the play, videos and biographical passages dedicated to the author. In this one-act tragedy inspired by a biblical event, Al Pacino plays the role of King Herod, desperately in love with his daughter Salome. Indifferent to the advances of the King, the heart of Jessica Chastain - who plays Salome – only beats for John the Baptist, an imprisoned prophet. For the first time, the viewer discovers a seductive and manipulative Jessica who plays on her charm, especially during that infamous dance…

Jessica Chastain & Al Pacino - Wild Salomé

5- Madagascar 3 and Gia the Jaguar


In 2012, Jessica’s red hair was replaced with the black spots of Italian jaguar Gia in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, as the actress lent her voice to a character in the Dreamworks animated movie. On the other side of the Atlantic, she was dubbed by Ethel Houbiers, the Belgian actress specialising in Spanish-language dubbing who regularly transcribes Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek in French-speaking countries.

Jessica Chastain recording “Madagascar 3”