Jessica Chastain Takes Aim at the Patriarchy in ‘Molly’s Game’: Awards Season Spotlight Profile

An enormous talent onscreen, Jessica Chastain has become a fierce advocate for women’s rights offscreen as well. Whether on her personal Twitter account or as a jury member for the Cannes Film Festival, the actress is steadfast in her commitment to calling out misogyny, sexual misconduct, and the patriarchy. In her latest role, as the titular character in Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game,” Chastain proves she chooses her projects as carefully as she chooses her words. “Things aren’t working with the status quo, and I think they all need to be challenged and stretched a bit,” Chastain recently told IndieWire in an interview for our Spotlight Awards series. “This game that women have been forced to play just doesn’t work anymore.”

“The more I could learn about Molly, the more he was allowing me to put in her flaws and her mistakes,” said the actress. “That was really important to me, because you can’t tell a story about a woman finding her integrity at the end of the story, unless you see her losing her integrity.”

Chastain took an active part in the character’s costume design, often calling up Sorkin to request a specific dress. “I felt physically uncomfortable in a lot of those costumes, and they were costumes that I was very adamant about wearing,” she said. “It was very important for me to copy that look, that transformation that she undergoes, because that says a lot about society and a woman’s place in society and about how a woman is valued for sexual desirability rather than what she says. I wanted to show all of the things of herself that she gives away in trying to play by these rules that these men have set forth.”

Chastain is done staying silent and accepting Hollywood’s sexism, and “Molly’s Game” continues her on the path toward complicated, messy, flawed women. “Women in Hollywood, it’s kind of hinted to us, ‘Just be grateful, be quiet,'” she said. “After ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ I just don’t want to do that anymore.”

This year’s Awards Spotlight series is produced with help from our partners at Xfinity, and filmed at the Variety Content Studio.