Apparently the trouble with doing movies with the notoriously deliberate Badlands director Terrence Malick—helmer of a scant five feature films in 37 years—is that your mom will keep asking when they’re going to come out. It’s been almost three years now since Jessica Chastain shot her scenes as the wife of Brad Pitt’s character in Malick’s new drama The Tree of Life. The irony is that the film is set to hit screens in May, just as the actress has a slew of other movies coming out. “It’s insane,” exclaims Chastain. “I did some of these movies four years ago. My poor mother! I tell her I’m doing a movie with Al Pacino and another with Brad Pitt. She tells all her friends, and years go by.” That Pacino movie, Wilde Salome, which both stars and is directed by the legendary Oscar winner, is based on the Oscar Wilde play about the famous Biblical femme fatale (Chastain plays the title role). But first, there’s the John Madden drama The Debt, in which she plays a Mossad agent who is part of a team dispatched to capture a Nazi war criminal. Chastain also has an upcoming role in the homicide detective thriller The Fields. But the Northern California native, who is currently living in Santa Monica, has learned that patience is a sought-after virtue in Hollywood. “I’ve actually been given a great gift,” says Chastain. “When I walk into an audition with a director, I’m carrying no baggage. They haven’t seen me in anything, even though I’ve done nine films.” A former dancer who studied acting at Juilliard, Chastain also has a performer’s propensity for superstition. She won’t get on a plane without touching the outside and putting both her feet on the lip of the door. Also, please don’t tell her a part is going to change her life, because, as she says, “Whatever anyone says, I think the opposite will happen.”
Photo: Jessica Chastain in New York, July 2010. Sweater and shorts: Salvatore Ferragamo. Top: Olatz. Socks: Gap. Shoes: Chloe. Cosmetics: Covergirl, including Trublend Liquid Makeup. Styling: Karen Kaiser. Hair: Peter Gray for Cutler/Redken/The Collective Shift. Makeup: Karan Franjola.