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Jessica Chastain: ‘The Good Nurse’ Was the Most ‘Nerve-Wracking’ Experience on Set

The Oscar winner spoke to IndieWire about playing real-life "angel" Amy Loughren, who helped take down America's most prolific murderer.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Jessica Chastain attends Netflix's "The Good Nurse" New York Screening at Paris Theater on October 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/WireImage)

Jessica Chastain

WireImage

Jessica Chastain recently won an Oscar for portraying real-life hero Tammy Faye, but taking on a true “angel” caught up in a serial killer drama was a whole other story.

Chastain plays nurse Amy Loughren, who helped take down killer colleague Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), who is believed to have murdered as many as 400 patients over the course of his 16-year career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Netflix film “The Good Nurse” is helmed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Tobias Lindholm (“The Investigation”) and premieres in theaters October 19 and on Netflix October 26.

“It was different than anything else that I have ever done because I have never filmed a scene from someone’s life as they observed me acting it,” Chastain told IndieWire at the film’s premiere. “She was at the monitor. That was a very nerve-inducing, never-wracking, thing to do. It’s a great responsibility anytime you play someone’s story, but especially while they’re watching you do it.”

Chastain said Loughren was “so generous with me” when helping craft the scenes. “She was like an angel,” Chastain said. The “Eyes of Tammy Faye” alum previously called Loughren a real-life “superhero” for being a working single mother with a heart condition who worked with authorities to capture medical murderer Cullen.

Director Lindholm credited screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who adapted the true-crime saga from Charles Graeber’s 2013 book “The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder,” for making the film as relatable as possible.

“When I read the screenplay for the first time… [it] reminded me of my mom in the case that it was a portrayal of a struggling single mom who took down the most prolific serial killer in American history with the help of kindness. That was her superpower,” Lindholm said. “And that reminded me of all the hardworking moms out there, the unsung heroes that we never tell about, so that was my way in, celebrating Amy and her heroism.”

Lindholm revealed it was a “big challenge” to not “fall into the traps of the given structure of serial killer movies” and tell an entirely original true story.

“There are so many cliches in this genre, so to be able to find new ways and find more realistic ways to approach this was the aim,” Lindholm said. “But it’s hard because I’m a slave of the conventions as anybody. So we had to confront that, which was probably why it took so long.”

“The Good Nurse” recently premiered at the BFI London Film Festival, where it received a four-minute standing ovation. At the New York premiere at Netflix’s Paris Theatre, the film received a two-minute-plus standing ovation from the audience.

Reporting by Vincent Perella.

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