Jessica Chastain on Making Her Broadway Debut in ‘The Heiress’

If you took a time machine all the way back to 2010 and started to talk to people about the Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain, there’s a big chance that nobody would know who you were talking about.  Of course, I could think of a lot better ways of using a time machine, but the point still stands: after starring in six (!) films in 2011 alone, including The Help, Chastain has become a praised actress in Hollywood and is often on the shortlist for many upcoming projects. 

But now that she’s become a star in film Chastain is returning to another one of her passions by making her Broadway debut in The Heiress in the lead role of Catherine Sloper.  She spoke to Yahoo! News about the challenges of taking on such a role and why she is returning to theater.

As for whether she feels any pressure starring in a show that has been on Broadway before (The Heiress has been previously performed on Broadway in 1947, 1950, 1976, and 1995 and was also made into a 1949 film starring Olivia de Havilland as Catherine), Chastain says, “I don’t feel trepidation because what it shows is what an exquisite role Catherine is.  There’s no way my Catherine will be the same as Olivia de Havilland’s Catherine or Cherry Jones‘ or Jane Alexander‘s. We’re such different women with different sensibilities. I don’t feel the nervousness of it, because I could never be the wonder that is them and I just have to find who Catherine is to me.”

On why she’s returning to theater when she obviously is a hard-working film actress, she says, “I”m always going to do both theater and film, always.  I love theater and I love the ensemble feeling of it. I love the community. I love being in New York. I love the idea of finishing a show and then seeing people from other shows and then all leaving for a late night dinner, but you know this is my first time so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Heiress opens on Broadway on October 6 at the Walter Kerr Theatre

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