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Jessica Chastain Deconstructs Strong Female Characters as “A Disservice to Women”

Jessica Chastain Deconstructs Strong Female Characters as "A Disservice to Women"

Jessica Chastain has called out for more female protagonists once more as part of her press tours for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her/Him (October 10), Interstellar (November 7), and A Most Violent Year (December 31). 

In an interview for Glamour’s November issue (on newsstands next week; images available here), Chastain explained why female strength can be a “disservice to women”: 

“When I play a female lead, like the role in Zero Dark Thirty, even if she’s strong, I try to give her as many flaws as I can. I think to play a female hero without faults is actually doing a disservice to women. I think it’s more interesting to see women on-screen with flaws. Then it’s not this unreasonable expectation that society then would put on you: ‘Well, a strong women can’t be like this….’”

She also affirmed the need for more female and racially diverse protagonists: 

“I’m really, really supportive of women in Hollywood. I love Meryl Streep. She’s such an incredible actress. But I feel like she’s the only one in her age group who gets those parts. I’d like to see Jessica Lange in a movie again, you know? Or Susan Sarandon. Why isn’t Viola Davis a lead in a film? She’s one of the greatest actresses alive.” 

Chastain would know, having co-starred with Davis in The Help and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. She continued:

“And where are the Asian actors and actresses? I’m not saying, ‘We don’t want movies about men.’ I’m just saying, ‘Come on, all the men I know love women. So let’s also have some stories about these women. Let’s write something for them, guys — and let’s make room for women writers, too.’”

The actress also expressed empathy for younger stars who get into trouble. Asked about becoming famous in her thirties instead of her teens, she said:

“I would have been a disaster. If I was 19 and I had the attention that I’m getting now, I would have just said stupid things. I would have partied more. All these expensive dinners and people giving me champagne? All these stupid things that we criticize 19-year-olds for doing when they’re famous, I would have done.”

Previously: Goodbye to Strong Female Characters

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