British GQ got Jessica Chastain to strip down for a bedroom-set photo shoot–often the standard for young actresses breaking into the mainstream with sex-symbol status, whether they want to do it or not (in the THR Actresses roundtable the women share horror stories). But Chastain seems genuinely happy to be playing the part. In the accompanying interview, the "Zero Dark Thirty" star talks about growing up a tomboy, why she hopes her first boyfriend reads the article, and the similarity between being a CIA agent and an actress.
On being a sex symbol: "It’s a huge compliment when someone says you’re attractive, especially when I was such an awkward kid – I was very tomboyish, with very short red hair, running around with cowboy boots on. So when someone tells me I’m a sex symbol I’m like, 'what?'. But I’ll take what I can get. That’ll teach all those boys back in Junior High! In fact, I hope my very first boyfriend, the guy I dated for one month and who broke up with me at the Valentine’s Day Dance – I hope that boy reads this article."
CIA agents and actresses: "I can relate to those aspects of being in the CIA. For the last three years, my life has been work and only work. I do miss my family. I do feel cut off from my friends. Listen, I know being in the CIA is a lot more important that being an actress, but I do feel some empathy with the loneliness: you give away yourself."
On being a redhead: "You Brits are usually so mean to your redheads. Why is that? In America it’s seen as a good thing. Look at Julia Roberts – she’s cool, right? I was working in Thailand and I’d be walking down the street and people – British people – would stop the car and scream, 'ginger!' at me."