Jessica Chastain on Her Wardrobe in ‘The Heiress’ and What She Whispers to Herself Every Night

After the announcement that Oscar-nominated workaholic actress Jessica Chastain would be making her Broadway debut in The Heiress in the lead role of Catherine, one wonders how Chastain feels about stepping out on a Broadway stage for the first time.  She spoke to New York magazine about one of the more trickier aspects of the productions: what she will be wearing!

Being a period piece set in the 1850s (the play, written in 1947, is based off Henry James’s novel Washington Square), Chastain had to not only learn the part but try to envision what her character would be wearing.  She says, “As an actor, you approach the characters from what the script tells you. You don’t think about, Well, what do I look like compared to what she looks like?” 

In fact, one of the more difficult aspects of the production for Chastain was getting used to the period clothing, which she actually tried to stay in as long as possible — even during rehearsals.  She explains, “I’m a jeans girl, but a blue-jeans way of moving is very different from wearing petticoats, so from day one, I was wearing the shoes, the skirt, the corset. I never really left the rehearsal room.  It took so long to put everything on every day, it’s like, Well, I’ll just bring my lunch and eat it here.

Making her Broadway debut is a nerve-wracking prospect, and Chastain admits being nervous, especially since The Heiress has long been a Broadway favorite (the play 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).  But it’s not like she hasn’t asked for this, and Chastain reveals, “Every night I whisper to myself, ‘You chose this, Jessica. You chose this. This is what you wanted to do your whole life.’”

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